Wrong word in the lesson?

Hi, guys! I am new on LingQ, studying German by now, and I have a question about a word I saw in a lesson:

“Sie sollten Ihre neuen Wörter und Sätze regelmäßig wiederholen.”

When I was looking for this word on the online dictionaries (a verb) I only found the word sollen. That makes me question if maybe the word is wrong in the lesson… If so, I saw the possibility to edit the lesson on LingQ. But I would like to know how this works, I have afraid to change a word for all the users and, in the end, the word was correct. I would like to know if our changes pass through a preview evaluation before. What is the LingQ’s polity on these cases?

Can you please post a link to that lesson? I’ll check.

Everything is fine here. “sollen” is the verb, obviously “sollten” is a conjugation. Should be subjuntive II (= “Konjunktiv II”). Depending on context you either talk to someone directly or you talk to someone about other people, in this case the “Sie” would be plural. But that’s kinda unlikely, so I think you talk to one person directly and use the polite “Sie” instead of the casual “du”.

Basically it just means: “You should review your new words and phrases regularly”


The phrase translates as “You should repeat your new words and phrases regularly", which is fairly standard advice in language acquisition and the basis of the Spaced Repetition System (SRS).
Technically the verb form here, “sollten”, is the formal “Sie” third person conjugation of the present subjunctive II of the modal verb “sollen”, which you have identified. This modal (auxiliary, Hilfsverb) “sollen” is mighty useful and the verb in its various forms can be thought of as “should, to be supposed to”, so making polite suggestions here.
Konjunktiv Zwei, as this verb form is called in German, is used in several ways: a wish, a fantasy, but here it is being polite! In my experience, many Germans are very good at ”Höflichkeit”!
You probably already use the Konjunktiv Zwei form without even thinking too much about it:

Möchten Sie eine Tasse Kaffee?
Ja, ich hätte gerne einen Cappuccino.

Könntest du mir kurz helfen?
Würdest du mich am Sonntag vom Flughafen abholen?
Dürfte ich dein Handy schnell benutzen?
Entschuldigung, hätten Sie einen Moment Zeit für mich?

These are examples of K2 in German given in a (free) YouTube course by Julia Brodt in her “Lingster Academy” series. She is a University lecturer doing research in linguistics at the University of Saarland and is a self-described “Fanatikerin” for syntax and sentence structure - which I am certainly not! Her YouTube channel has won several awards and Frau Brodt is now supported in her endeavours by Duden.

You seem to be making good progress in German if you “noticed” the subtle addition of “T” in “sollen”, but like many on this site you probably want to follow Steve Kaufmann’s excellent advice to do as little grammar as you can get away with! If so, then the “Lingster Academy” probably ”fits the bill” - and it is of course free.

“German grammar: Subjunctive II simple explanation│A2 - C1”

“German grammar: Easy explanation! The most important rules for learners”:



Excellent answer, bembe!

Bembe’s explanation of the use of “Konjunktiv II” is very good.
However, this is a “special case” where the Konjunktiv II form of the modal verb “sollen” is used to sound less harsh in the sense of: “you should do XY” = “it’s a good idea to do XY”

On the other hand, sentence variants that are too direct and sound too harsh would be:

  • Imperative: “Wiederholen Sie neue Wörter und Sätze regelmäßig!”

  • A command with “müssen”: “Sie müssen neue Wörter und Sätze regelmäßig wiederholen (damit Sie sie nicht vergessen)!”

Therefore, in order to soften direct demands for fulfillment (by means of imperatives or commands with “müssen”), the Konjunktiv II is used as a modesty form.

Instead of the Konjunktiv II (“sollten”), you could also use more verbose sentences such as:

  • Ich würde vorschlagen, dass Sie Ihre neuen Wörter und Sätze regelmäßig wiederholen.
  • Es wäre eine gute Idee, Ihre neuen Wörter und Sätze regelmäßig zu wiederholen!"
  • Es wäre eine gute Idee, wenn Sie Ihre neuen Wörter und Sätze regelmäßig wiederholen!"
  • Es wäre gut / nicht schlecht, wenn Sie Ihre neuen Wörter und Sätze regelmäßig wiederholen!"

In sum:

  • The Konjunktiv II as a modesty form (“Du solltest / Sie sollten” is less direct / harsh than commands with “müssen” / imperatives and, at the same time, less verbose than equivalent sentences (“ich würde vorschlagen / es wäre eine gute Idee / es wäre gut”, etc.).

  • The forms of modesty and politeness that use Konjunktiv II share a similar logic (of softening) in German, but they aren´t identical because there is a semantic difference between “modesty” and “politeness”.

  • @BiaMidori: The German sentence with Konjunktiv II is correct. So, you don´t have to change anything! :slight_smile:


Wow, I was not expecting such kindness and attention with my question! Thanks to all to take the time to answer and helping me to understand what was going on. Now is way more clear, thanks a lot!

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Here is the link @zoran. Although now I understood that the phrase is correct in fact.
(If the link doesn’t work, it is the lesson 6 from the Book LingQ 101 - Getting Started)

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The german sentence is correct. It means you have the possibility to repeat it (you “should” repeat it not you “have to” repeat it)

Hi BiaMidori,
let me assure you, “sollten” is perfectly right in this sentence. It is what we call a “Konjunktiv” in Germany, meaning “you should”. “sollen” would mean something like “you have to”. kind regards from Germany, Klaus