Subjective meaning of modal verbs

Indirect speech (reporting someone's statement)

 

Modal verbs sollen and wollen are used to report someone's words.

 

Sollen reports the statement of one or more people - who are not mentioned in the sentence- regarding the subject of the sentence. The speaker reports this statement without expressing his/her own attitude towards the truthfulness of the statement.

 

Example transcription
Lisa soll schwanger sein.
=
Eine dritte Person / man behauptet, dass Lisa schwanger ist.

 

We use wollen to report a statement made by the sentence subject regarding the subject itself. This subject can only be in the 2nd or 3rd person. Thus, the speaker can report someone's statement regarding oneself and, at the same time, express a doubt regarding the truthfulness of this statement.

 

Example transcription
Anton will der schnellste Läufer sein.
=
Anton behauptet, dass er der schnellste Läufer ist.