Some Spanish modal verbs

8
votes

I recently was asked what are the modal verbs in Spanish. For those interested, some of them are:

poder = can / to be able to

deber = must

querer = to want to

soler = to used to... / I normally...

45132 views
updated May 15, 2017
edited by lazarus1907
posted by lazarus1907
to be use to
to be used to
oops ! Thanks Nick. But the English Modal is "used to" - not "to be used to".
I'm not sure that I agree in "to be used to" is translated into "soler"
Right you are! Thanks.
Soler ... To be accustomed to
I'd say soler = to normally do something. To be accustomed to & to be used to are *acostumbrarse*
I'd say soler = to normally/usually do something. To be accustomed to & to be used to are *acostumbrarse*

10 Answers

5
votes

Hecho en Mex asked.

What does a "modal" verb mean?

The problem is that all the teaching books refer to Modals as "auxiliary verbs".

The main auxiliary verbs in English are:

to do

to be

to have

These are also normal verbs which have past / present / future tenses and "aspects" such as Simple - Perfect - Continous - Perfect continuous.

Modals have none of these qualities and therefore in my opinion should not be called "auxiliary verbs"

The 11 Modals are

can - could

will - would

shall - should

used to - ought to

may - might

must.

If I make a simple sentence such as:

"I eat a lot."

I can put any of the 11 Modals before "eat" to make 11 new sentences. Which is a really powerful characteristic of the English language.

Example: I can eat a lot - I could eat a lot - I will eat a lot - I would eat a lot etc.

I can also change the pronoun "I" for any other ones without modifying anything else in the sentence.

Example:

He can eat a lot - We can eat a lot etc.

I hope this helps you.

updated Jun 4, 2017
edited by ian-hill
posted by ian-hill
5
votes

To the English ear to use to and to be used to says different things.

So does it to a Spanish one. "Estar acostumbrado a algo" and "soler hacer algo" are, in my humble opinion, totally different concepts.

I usually + verb = Suelo + infinitivo

I used to + verb = Solía + infinitivo

I'm used to ...= Estoy acostumbrada a ...

updated Jun 4, 2017
posted by cogumela
I agree, but look how our dictionary defines soler. to be used to like acostubrar, it do not define it as to use to
I agree Laura
3
votes

This is where I have to "butt" in - these may be verbs that can be used as one would use "to have to" or "to need" in English.

The "but" is that the 2 I quote above are not Modals but regular verbs - as are the those quoted by Lazarus.

Those quoted by lazarus are of course the Spanish verbs most used to derive the Spanish when writing English sentences that contain Modals.

That does not make them the equivalent of English Modals.

updated May 15, 2017
posted by ian-hill
I guess that modal does not imply itself that the verb has to be irregular, as it happens in English
The problem Laura is thast English Modals are not verbs. Not even auxiliary verbs. They can not be conjugated - they have no tenses - past / present / future.
Aren't they verbs? Then why can I say: I will! and it makes sense?
It can only make sense as a short answer Laura. Example - "Will you do that for me?" - "yes, I will"
The same is true for all 11 Modals.
If you just say "Yes, I will" out of context peope will ask you "What will you do?"
3
votes

And here comes the question: What exactly is a modal verb in Spanish?

Querer is but desear is not?

updated Dec 26, 2016
posted by cogumela
2
votes

Acabo de leer un texto muy interesante al respecto en el que de hecho el verbo querer no se incluye como modal . De hecho comparan el comportamiento del verbo querer que admite complemento directo a un verbo modal puro como puede ser el verbo deber.

Este texto es muy interesante . Pero no sé después de todo si muy fiable, ya que está escrito por un americano, me supongo por su nombre.

repaired link

updated Jul 6, 2017
edited by 0074b507
posted by 00494d19
great, quentin, please, can you fix the link?
No, the problem is the blank spaces in it, which can't be removed.
well, does not work as a hyperlink, even though it actually gives you a link there :::sigh::: but just copy and paste and it works alright
I fixed it. see below
Fixed....Next time, try running your URL through this site: http://bit.ly/
Or tinyurl.com.
2
votes

Modals have none of these qualities and therefore in my opinion should not be called "auxiliary verbs"

While I understand the reasoning behind this statement, I would point out that verbs which demonstrate an incomplete conjugation (such as has been described of the English modal auxiliaries) are generally categorized as "defective verbs" yet verbs, nonetheless. Aside from English, defective verbs occur in many languages including Spanish, French, Dutch, Latin and Arabic.

One argument for the terminology of "modal auxiliary verb" is that these words perform exactly the function specified by such a title (i.e. they exhibit exactly those qualities which define an auxiliary verb). That is, auxiliary verbs are those which accompany the main verb and provide further information (semantic or syntactic) or alter slightly its function to make distinctions in mood, voice, aspect or tense. In the case of modal auxiliary verbs, the distinction made is in regards to mood (as indicated by the word "modal").

updated Dec 26, 2016
posted by Izanoni1
The problem Iza is that Spanish speakers learning English think " I can " = "puedo" when "puedo" really means "I am able to" - this can lead to all sorts of problems.
In my opinion Modals are more akin to adverbs.
Certainly, it is a complex topic. Personally, I generally try to avoid any set one-to-one translations when going from one language to another but instead try to first get a feel for the overall semantic meaning. In any case, I can definitely see how...
teaching this topic to a non-native speaker might present several challenges. I wonder...Are you familiar with the idea of semi-auxiliaries or the NICE acronym which some authors propose?
2
votes

to be use to

We know that he knows the difference in meaning for an English speaker since he mentioned in the other thread about soler.

To the English ear to use to and to be used to says different things.

I used to [to use to] lie, cheat, steal, and profane, but since then I have seen the light.

I am used to [to be use to] checking to see if a member is new to the site.

I think the 2nd acostumbrado meaning is closer to Spanish soler.

When we use to use to we often imply that we do not still do it.

But that is all off topic concerning modals.

A few more listed here:

alt text

updated Apr 30, 2011
edited by 0074b507
posted by 0074b507
To use" is a regular verb. "used to" is the Modal.
"I used to do it" = I did but I do not anymore. Only in a question or in the negative the "d" is dropped.
1
vote

I know I'm late to the party but have been reading most of the comments on this thread thinking about soler.

I learned that 'soler' was more closely related to 'always'. For example, "Los domingos solía ir al parque para caminar," which I would translate as "On Sundays I always went to the park to walk" or, perhaps more accurately, "I would always go to the park to walk on Sundays"

For me, 'accustomed to" and 'used to' have different connotations, but I'm curious if I am using it incorrectly, or if it just has wider use.

updated Apr 30, 2011
posted by shakedowndave
1
vote
updated Apr 29, 2011
edited by 0074b507
posted by 0074b507
jejeje, hey, I am not paying....:::sigh:::: I will have to delete it then, as I am not willing to pay:P
Just pay the man
0
votes

What does a "modal" verb mean?

updated Apr 29, 2011
posted by Rey_Mysterio
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