Modal particles

We can use the words denn, doch, ja, eben, halt, etc., to express nuances such as interest, surprise, resignation, etc., in everyday spoken German.

Das ist wunderbar! Das ist ja wunderbar!

That's wonderful! → That's really wonderful!

These are the most common modal particles:

  • Doch: to seek confirmation when asking a question, when making a request, and to express known facts

Das stimmt doch, (oder)? (Frage)

That's right, isn't it? (question)

Komm doch vorbei. (Aufforderung)

Come on over. (request)

Das weiß doch jeder. (bekannter Fakt)

But everyone knows that. (known fact)

  • Denn: to express interest in questions, to show slight impatience or surprise

Wann ist denn deine Prüfung?

So when is your exam?

Ist da denn kein Zucker drin?

Is there no sugar in it then?

  • Ja: to express surprise or issue a warning

Das ist ja wunderbar! (Überraschung)

That's really wonderful! (surprise)

Mach das ja nie wieder! (Warnung)

Don't ever do that again! (warning)

  • Eben or halt: to express resignation

Das funktioniert eben/halt nicht.

This just doesn't work.

  • Bloß: for warnings or to express impatience or despair in questions

Hör bloß auf!

Just stop it!

Wo stecken sie bloß?

Where on earth are they?

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