6.3 Conjugation of the modal verbs

All the verbs we have seen until now were main verbs, they describe an action. The verb 'to speak' for instance for instance is a main verb. About someone who speaks we know that he doesn't open his mouth to respire like a fish, but to inform us about the results of the activity of his brain. Modal verbs don't describe an action, but the circumstances in which an action is executed.

  Example  
He has to read the book. => He has no alternative, because there is an institution powerfull enough to constrain him.
  He want to read the book. => Nobody compels him to read the book, he wants to read the book.

It is obvious that the circumstances in which the action is executed are different in these sentences. There are differences in the use of the modal verbs between English and Italian, but for the moment we are not interested in analysing them, we are going to do that later. For the moment we only want to know, how to conjugate them. All modal verbs are very irregular in Italian.

Summary      
potere => can volere => want dovere => must
  io posso I can voglio I want devo I must
  tu puoi you can vuoi you want devi you must
  lui p he can vuole he want deve he must
  lei p she can vuole she want deve she must
  noi possiamo we can vogliamo we want dobbiamo we must
  voi potete you can volete you want dovete you must
  loro possono they can vogliono they want devono they must
   

Examples  
  Io devo leggere il libro.
I have to read the book.
  Tu puoi scrivere la lettera.
You can write the letter.
  Lui vuole bere una birra.
He wants to drink a beer.
  Voi potete andare a casa.
You can go home.
  Loro devono lavorare.
They have to work.
  Loro vogliono dormire.
They want to sleep.
  Voi potete andare a dormire.
You can go to sleep.





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