While teaching German online, I often see that students have problems when it comes to understanding the real difference between “mögen” und “möchten”. After reading this article and solving its free worksheet, you will be prepared for your next conversation!


“Mögen” vs “möchten”

In German, there are two very similar words: “mögen” and “möchten”. And as much as they sound similar, their meaning is very different. Therefore, mixing these two German verbs up might cause tricky situations: The fact that the meaning of “mögen” is “to like” and the meaning of “möchten” is “would like to”. Besides, an accusative object follows both words, which are irregular verbs.

If you want to improve your skills, you should also check out the self-studying book A-Grammar: German grammar exercises for levels A1 & A2, which includes all grammar aspects for these levels, English descriptions, explanations, and an answer book. Also, you can take a look at this playful German modal verbs wheel.


Verb conjugation in the present tense

mögen (to  like) möchten (would like to)
ich mag ich möchte
du magst du möchtest
er/sie/es mag er/sie/es möchte
wir mögen wir möchten
ihr mögt ihr möchtet
sie / Sie mögen sie möchten


How to use “mögen” and “möchten” in past tense

Now, when we would like to use both verbs in the past tense, a little problem shows up! When “mögen” becomes “mochte” in Präteritum, so one asks oneself, what should happen with “möchten”? Well, that’s quite easy! This verb does not have a real past tense since, in German logic, it would share the same verb with “mögen”. Therefore, we can fall back to the past tense of “wollen” (to want) as “möchten” is its “light” version.

Mögen Möchten
Präteritum Perfekt Präteritum Perfekt
ich mochte habe gemocht wollte habe gewollt
du mochtest hast gemocht wolltest hast gewollt
er/sie/es mochte hat gemocht wollte hat gewollt
wir mochten haben gemocht wollten haben gewollt
ihr mochtet habt gemocht wolltet habt gewollt
sie / Sie mochten haben gemocht wollten haben gewollt


After reading this article, you can practice your knowledge with the free worksheet – The Difference between “mögen” und “möchten”. Finally, you will not be confused anymore while using these similar-sounding verbs.

Bis bald!



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2 Replies to “The difference between “mögen” and “möchten””

  1. Hello, I am a beginner (A1 level only), but i’m pretty sure möchten is just the conditional tense of mögen and not a different verb as you say. Is that not correct?? Certainly möchten doesn’t appear as an infinitive in my German dictionary or grammar books…

    1. Hi, you are right that “möchten” is actually the subjunctive II of “mögen”, but today, it is used in the present tense as a separate modal verb (for forming its past tense, we use the past tense of wollen).

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