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Konjunktiv


learning target


Aim of this section is how to learn to use the Konjunktiv.

German

English

Könntest du mir helfen?
Ich wünschte, du wärst schon hier.
Er sagte, er habe keine Zeit.

Could you help me?
I wish you were here already.
He said he had no time.



rules


 

What is Konjunktiv?

Konjunktiv is NOT a tense like Präsens, Präteritum, Perfekt, Zukunft...
Konjunktiv is a mood!


There are three moods in German:

The Indikativ is the real world. It's used to speak about all things which really happen.
We've always used this mood so far. You just wasn't conscious of it.

The Konjunktiv is exactly the opposite of the Indikativ.
The Konjunktiv is used to speak about fictional things, things which are not real, things we would like to become reality.

The Imperativ you know already quite well. It's used to give a command or a request.
You address something directly to somebody.

An example will make it clear:

example:


For what do you need the Konjunktiv?

There are two different forms of Konjunktiv:

  • Konjunktiv I
  • Konjunktiv II


Konjunktiv I

Konjunktiv I is used for:

examples:


Konjunktiv II

Konjunktiv II is used for:

examples:

I want us to concentrate on Konjunktiv II for now and leave out Konjunktiv I completly
because in almost all cases you'll need Konjunktiv II and we can still speak about Konjunktiv I later.


How do you form Konjunktiv II?

To form the Konjunktiv II in the present tense:

  • take the Präteritum form of the verb
  • change the vowel (a, o, u) into an "umlaut" if possible
  • add an "e" if there is not already an ending "e" or "en"


example (verb: be in the "ich"-form)

Präsens

Präteritum

Konjunktiv II

ich bin

ich war

ich wäre


This rule doesn't work for "sollen", "wollen" and "werden", however.
That's why I suggest you learn these 9 verbs by heart because then you have covered almost everything you need for the Konjunktiv II.


The "real" Konjunktiv II of sein, haben, werden and the modal verbs

Infinitiv

ich

du

er / sie / es

wir

ihr

sie

Englisch

sein

wäre

wärest

wäre

wären

wäret

wären

be

haben

hätte

hättest

hätte

hätten

hättet

hätten

have

 

dürfen

dürfte

dürftest

dürfte

dürften

dürftet

dürften

may

können

könnte

könntest

könnte

könnten

könntet

könnten

can

mögen

möchte

möchtest

möchte

möchten

möchtet

möchten

would like

müssen

müsste

müsstest

müsste

müssten

müsstet

müssten

must

sollen

sollte

solltest

sollte

sollten

solltet

sollten

should

wollen

wollte

wolltest

wollte

wollten

wolltet

wollten

want

 

werden

würde

würdest

würde

würden

würdet

würden

become



The würde + infinitive construction

You might ask, what's about all the other verbs? You can apply the same rules for them, too and
it would be grammatically perfect German but it's quite sure that people won't understand you or look at you rather sceptically.

The reason is that the "real" Konjunktiv II has disappeared more and more out of the German language.
Nowadays, people use for all verbs (except the 9 verbs above) the "würde + infinitive construction" instead of the "real" Konjunktiv II.

example

The "real" Konjunktiv II of the verb gehen (to go) is:

Infinitiv

ich

du

er / sie / es

wir

ihr

sie

Englisch

gehen

ginge

gingest

ginge

gingen

ginget

gingen

go


That's grammatically 100% correct but I've never said in my life "du gingest" or "ihr ginget".
Instead we use the "würde + infinitive construction".

Infinitiv

ich

du

er / sie / es

wir

ihr

sie

Englisch

gehen

würde gehen

würdest gehen

würde gehen

würden gehen

würdet gehen

würden gehen

go


The general rule to form the "würde + infinitive construction" is:

  • conjugate "würden"
  • add the infinitive form of the verb



Konjunktiv II in the past tense

So far, we just spoke about using the Konjunktiv II in the present tense.
To make it complete I'd like to show how it's formed in the past tense.

All you have to do is to combine your knowledge of the "Perfekt" tense and what you learned so far about the Konjunktiv II.
The Perfekt tense is formed with: helping verb (haben or sein) + Partizip II of the main verb.
You keep the Partizip II of the main verb and you just transform the helping verb in the Konjunktiv II.


Indikativ sentence - "Perfekt" tense

Konjunktiv II sentence - past tense

Ich habe gelernt. (=I learned.)

Ich hätte gelernt. (=I would have learned.)

Ich war gewesen. (=I was.)

Ich wäre gewesen. (=I would have been.)


The Konjunktiv II - past tense can only be formed in this way. There is no Präteritum form.
The word order is the same as in "normal" Perfekt sentences.


further examples:

An exception are sentences in the Konjunktiv II - past tense form which contain a modal verb.
Sentences like this are in my oppinion the most difficult grammatical constructions.
I just want to give you the rule here. I won't torture you with exercises of this special topic.

You form the Konkunktiv II - past tense which contain modals verbs with:
helping verb (haben or sein) in the Konjunktiv II form + main verb in the infinitive form + modal verb


examples:


 

exercises


Konjunktiv II - 1

 

tom homework

 

Lösung

 

Konjunktiv II - 2

 

tom homework

 

Lösung

 

Konjunktiv II - 3

 

tom homework

 

Lösung

 


summary - documents for your folder


Konjunktiv (theory, 5 pages)