The Modal Verb “dürfen”

"Dürfen" is a modal verb which means "allowed to."

On this page I'll explain how "dürfen" is used, how to conjugate it, and things to watch out for, as well as provide some examples to help you really understand this important verb that you'll use very often when speaking German.

Conjugating "dürfen"

Using "dürfen"

As permission:

  • „Wir dürfen eine Stunde Computer spielen.“
    (Papa lets us.)
  • „Er darf meinen Computer benutzen.“
    (I allow him to.)

As prohibition:

  • „Wir dürfen heute nicht Computer spielen.“
    (Papa forbids it.)
  • „Er darf meinen Computer nicht benutzen.“
    (I forbid him from doing it.)

As a guess (with the subjunctive 2)

High probability that you're right.

  • „Der Schal dürfte Maria gehören.“
    (As an answer to: „Wem gehört dieser Schal?“ ⇒ I think so.)
  • „Das Haus dürfte 30m hoch sein.“
    (As an answer to: „Wie hoch ist dieses Haus?“ ⇒ I think so.)

To politely ask for permission

  • Darf ich Sie etwas fragen?“
    (polite)
  • Dürfte ich Sie etwas fragen?“
    (very polite)

Additional Modal Verbs

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