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Chinese Modal verbs


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Chinese Modal Verbs // 能,会,要,敢,可以,必须,肯

I know that the basic Chinese Modal Verbs are : 能, 会,要,敢,可以,必须 and 肯.

However, I have difficulties to understand the difference of 能 and 会 and 可以 and 肯. How can I know which one I need to use in a certain situation/sentence? Any suggestions?

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你好 丹尼尔。It took my quite some time to prepare an answer for this but finally I am there :=) I hope you will enjoy this little "novel" :=)))

Modal verbs in Chinese are very much like those in English (e.g. can, must, should, etc.). They are placed directly before other verbs to indicate particular moods or attitudes. They are generally negated by bù (不) .

The modal verbs 要 and 想 are us to express wishes or desire:

我要/想喝啤酒。 ///  I would like to drink beer.                       

我要/想喝一杯咖啡。 ///  I would like to drink a cup of coffee.

我要/想喝可口可乐,不要/想喝茶。/// I would like to have a Coke.

你要/想学法语/德语吗? /// Would you like to study French / German ?

It is important to know that in a command or instruction, 要 used with a second-person pronoun can only express obligation:

Consider the following example sentences:

你要早点回来    /// you really have to  come back early

你要小心。      ///  You have to take care (of yourself)

不要对我撒谎。 //    You should not lie to me !  / Don't lie to me!

We got some more modal verbs in the pipeline :=)  Let's talk about 愿意 and 肯 now. Those two modal verbs both indicate "willingness". Consider the following sample sentences:

她肯/愿意帮助你吗?  // Is he willing to help you ?

她不肯/愿意认错。  // She is unwilling to commit her mistakes.

Another modal verb that we got in the Chinese language is 敢。

他敢提出自己的看法。He dares to express his own view ( about the topic...)

我不敢去见他    /// I don't dare going to see him.

你敢?            //  You dare?

你敢打我?      //  You dare hitting me ? :=)

Furthermore we also have the modal verbs 应该 and 得. The modal verb 应该 means "ought to" and the modal verb 得 means "have to".

你应该睡了/起床了。  // You should (ought to) sleep.

我得走了。              //  You have to go !

Next in line we got the modal verb 必须。 It means must/have to

Examples for the modal verb 必须:

明天我必须到达那儿。  ///  I have to be there (specific place) by tomorrow (tomorrow the latest)

我们今天必须完成这个工作。  /// we have to finish this work today.

Now, as for your question (finally haha) 能 means can/ may / be able to / be capable of and 可以 means can / may

你现在可以走了。  // You can go now

他十分钟能跑一英里。  // He can run a kilometer in 10 minutes

我能进来吗?  /// Can I (please) come one?

The modal verb 可以 implies permission from outside authority, whereas 能 refers to the ability to do something in special circumstances:

你不可以在这儿吸烟。  // You are not allowed to smoke here.

我昨晚不能来。          //  I was not able to come yesterday night. (I didn't make it yesterday.)

Lastly we also got the modal verb 会 that can either indicate a probability like "be likely to" / "be sure to" or inherent or acquired ability/skill: “can", "be able to", "be good at", "be skillful in":

明天会下雨吗?    /// Is it likely to rain tomorrow (Is it going to rain tomorrow?)

你会不会说中文吗?  // Can you speak Chinese (or not)?

So, consequently, the difference between 能 and 会 can be illustrated by the following example:

我会开车,但是现在喝了酒,我不能开。I can drive (a car), but now as I have been drinking beer, I am not going to drive.

我会喝酒,但是现在要开车,我不能喝。I drink beer, but now as I'm driving today , I am not going to drink ( I am not allowed to drink )

Feel free to correct me or to give me some props for this rather long text ::=)))

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thaaaaaaaank uuuuuu. that's what I am talking about. thank you for taking the time to answer my question about chinese modal verbs. May I ask you one ore thing ? what about if the verbs are negated? are there some special things about it or I just use 不 to negate the modal verbs? a short answer will do this time hehe

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