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Happiness lies neither in vice nor in virtue; but in the manner we appreciate the one and the other, and the choice we make pursuant to our individual organization.
Marquis De Sade
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Old High German muozan, originally muotan. Compare moeten.



müssen (strong, third-person singular simple present muss, past tense musste, auxiliary haben, past participle müssen or gemusst)

  1. (auxiliary[[Category:Template:lang:de auxiliary verbs]], Template loop detected: Template:context 1) to have to (do something); must; to be obliged (to do something); to need (to do something).
    Wir müssen es machen. — “We must do it.”
    Wir müssen es nicht machen. — “We need not do it.” or “We do not need to do it.”
    Ich habe es tun müssen. — “I had to do it.”
  2. (intransitive, Template loop detected: Template:context 1) to have to do something implied; must; to be obliged.
    Ja, ich muss. — “Yes, I must.”

Usage notes

  • Müssen expresses the necessity of doing something. Sollen expresses moral duty or the suggestion that something ought to be done.
  • As shown in the example above, nicht müssen translates into English as “need not” rather than “must not”. For the English “must not”, use nicht dürfen.


Before 1996, several of the conjugated forms of müssen were spelled with an ß (that is, muß, mußte, müßte, etc.). Since the German Spelling Reform of 1996, however, the correct spelling is with ss.

infinitive müssen
past participle gemusst
person singular plural
first second third first second third
indicative ich du er, sie, es wir ihr sie
present muss musst muss müssen müsst müssen
past musste musstest musste mussten musstet mussten
subjunctive ich du er, sie,es wir ihr sie
I müsse müssest müsse müssen müsset müssen
II müsste müsstest müsste müssten müsstet müssten

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