Modal verbs in the simple past tense

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Modal verbs in the simple past tense

Modal verbs Modalverben are conjugated in the simple past tense without an umlaut but with regular endings:

ich musste
du musstest
er/sie/es musste
wir mussten
ihr musstet
sie/Sie mussten
ich wollte
du wolltest
er/sie/es wollte
wir wollten
ihr wolltet
sie/Sie wollten
ich mochte
du mochtest
er/sie/es mochte
wir mochten
ihr mochtet
sie/Sie mochten

The verbs dürfen (may) dürfen, Präteritum and können (can) können, Präteritum follow the same conjugation as müssen (must).

‑Konnte Sigi das Paket abholen? ‑Nein, er durfte das Hotel nicht verlassen.

‑Was Sigi able to collect the parcel? ‑No, he was not allowed to leave the hotel.

We conjugate the verb sollen (should) sollen, Präteritum in the same way as wollen (to want).

Du solltest gestern pĂĽnktlich zum Termin kommen.

You should have come to the appointment yesterday on time.

Note: In speech, modal verbs are mostly used in the Präteritum (simple past tense), not the perfect tense:

‑Hallo Fred, wie war deine Konferenz gestern? ‑Super, ich konnte nach 5 Minuten gehen.

‑Hello Fred, how was your conference yesterday? ‑Great, I was able to leave after 5 minutes.

‑Musstest du keine Präsentation halten? ‑Nein, ich durfte es nicht, weil ich kein Englisch sprechen wollte.

‑Did you not have to give a presentation? ‑No, I wasn’t allowed to because I didn't want to speak English.

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