Subjunctive mood

The subjunctive ( from late Latin modus coniunctivus, actually " the set connection statement serving manner " to Latin coniungere " connect ", " bind " ) is the German next to the indicative and the imperative of the three modes of a verb. The subjunctive is used for the representation of an opportunity and therefore also known as Possibility form.

In German, there are two types of the subjunctive: the subjunctive I and the subjunctive, which are each subdivided into time steps of the present, the past and the future. The subjunctive I finds its main use in the indirect speech. The subjunctive is often used in conditional sentences, but also as a replacement for the Subjunctive I in reported speech.

In some types of functions can be used in the correct standard German instead of the subjunctive and the indicative.

  • 2.1 Education of the subjunctive II
  • 2.2 Use of the subjunctive II 2.2.1 Irrealis condition whose realization is impossible or very unlikely
  • improbable or impossible condition consequences
  • unreal comparison theorem
  • hesitation, doubt at a question, suggestion or finding
  • 2.3.1 Replacement form for the conditional I
  • 2.3.2 expression of doubt on the contents of the Reported
  • 4.1 English
  • 4.2 Latin
  • 4.3 Spanish 4.3.1 The conditional I
  • 4.3.2 The Conditional

Subjunctive I

The German Subjunctive I go back to the form after the Indo-European optative present tense.

Formation of the subjunctive I

The forms of the subjunctive I are formed from the root word of the basic form ( the infinitive ):

At the root ( infinitive minus - (e ) n: race · en, be · n ) the subjunctive endings are added. An orientation is possible to the indicative forms of the present tense, the perfect tense, the future tense and the future tense I II.

Be the following, the personal endings of the subjunctive I, derived from the present indicative, as well as the exemplary conjugation and install:

Only a few verbs differ, be like, be, want, have, in the subjunctive I strongly from their present indicative forms. However, this only comes when the people of the present indicative of regular education differ - the subjunctive I itself is formed through regularly.

Other times and for example, the passive process can be formed by the required auxiliary verbs " be ", " have " or "will" be put in the Subjunctive I:

Use of the subjunctive I

Indirect speech

The continuous I will be - used in reported speech - especially in written language. The utterance of a person may be mediated indirectly by a reporting party (indirect speech, more rarely dependent speech, Latin oratio obliqua ). This mode is made clear that no one's opinion or perception, your own question or a separate request is reported, but the expression of a third party is rendered. Indirect speech is often used in logs, reports and the like. (: Indirect question also ) or of desire (also: indirect request ) In indirect speech, the speech unit as a function of verbs of saying, of questioning.

In indirect speech is used usually in the form of the subjunctive I ( coniunctivus obliquus ). If the forms of the indicative and the subjunctive I are the same, reference is made to the forms of the subjunctive II to illustrate the amenability of what is said. Are the corresponding subjunctive II forms identical with indicative forms, then the corresponding subjunctive II form with "would" be used. A form of equality between indicative and subjunctive is always in the 1st and 3rd person plural ( we / they ) and usually ( regular verbs always) in the first person singular ( I ). The most common statements in the third person are reproduced in indirect speech.

To print the prematurity of the action is the past tense (Perfect form) of the subjunctive I in expression of simultaneity the present tense (present form) the subjunctive I, to represent a posteriority the future tense ( future tense - form) of the subjunctive I used. The subjunctive I holds Germans not tense form which has the main clause. As a point of reference for the assessment of post-, gender - and anteriority of the date the statements is largely determined by the third party. There is no reference to the date of indirect reproduction.

For the subjunctive I therefore are only three tenses are available, which are explained with examples in the following.

Simultaneity of events and playing by the third party




Prematurity of the action in respect of the representation by the third party


Posteriority the action in respect of the representation by the third party


Other Uses

It also forms the optative ( optative ) of the 1st and 3rd person singular and plural, often with the word order is inverted:

Subjunctive I is also at the invitation form ( jussive ) to the 3rd person singular and plural in use:


Is within the Indo-European system of conjugations actually a perfect optative; the Germanic and thus German preterite continues the Indo indicative of the perfect; the real Indo-European subjunctive Perfect is omitted in German.

Formation of the subjunctive II

The subjunctive II of the present is derived from the Simple past. Irregular verbs with strong umlautfähigem stem vowel are translated is: come → → came would sing → ​​sang → sang, bake baked → → Buke; in a subset of strong verbs of the third Ablautreihe is the "a" of the past tense, which was formerly in the plural, "u", mostly replaced by a " ü", for example: die died → → die. Then the corresponding personal ending is appended to the possibly modified in this way stem.

The personal endings of the subjunctive II are the same as in the subjunctive I, exemplified conjugated "meet" on the basis of the strong verb ( past tense met ~, träf umlauted ~, ) and the weak verb " install " ( past tense installed ~ ):

"Meet" The strong verb has its own vice was inflection for the subjunctive and is well distinguishable from the past tense. In contrast, the "Install " in the regular verb forms both completely identical; in this case is usually dodged the " would " form (see below).

The formation of the times past perfect, future tense and future tense II corresponds to both the active and passive in the process the rules of the indicative. The inflected auxiliary verb is set instead of the main verb in the subjunctive:

The future tense of the active now serves mainly to form the subjunctive itself ( " would " form )

Use of the subjunctive II


The subjunctive is also called counterfactual. The subjunctive is used to designate an impossible and improbable conditions or consequences condition or to express that will retire itself among several potential consequences as a result of human decisions by discretionary use a certain sequence. By formulating conditions and their consequences, it is also ideas and desires that are not likely to occur or are impossible, or bring the doubts of the speaker at certain issues expressed.

Condition whose realization is impossible or very unlikely

The unreal conditional sentence is often " when " or " if " started with. The subordinate clause is a condition during which the ( impossible or unlikely) entrance accesses a sequence that is referred to in the main clause. It is used both in the main clause, as in the subordinate clause subjunctive II.

The conjunction " when " or " if " can be omitted, so that the sentence with the finite verb begins.

The subordinate clause can be omitted if the condition can be inferred from the context.

The same applies if the subordinate clause can be "otherwise" or " but " is replaced by an infinitive, or a Präpositionalkonstruktion sets.

It can also eliminates the main clause, if the condition result is deducible from the context; the subordinate clause is the simple sentence. The development of the condition result is possible with expectations, the occurrence of which is impossible or very unlikely.

Improbable or impossible condition consequences

The subjunctive is also used when the specific condition - related consequences is unlikely or impossible. The occurrence of a condition sequence may be unlikely or impossible, because the result unreal in itself ( unreal result set) or because the one on which the condition is based, among several possible consequences of a choice option and a possible se episode discretion due (probably) eliminated. It is important that the condition of the underlying condition result is real.

A) unreal corollary

In the unreal corollary the result is impossible or unlikely, although the condition entry is possible and the result is not precipitated by the exercise of a discretionary power.

B ) Discretionary Conditional deletion of a potential to be a result

This group of cases is when it is expected that a certain condition imaginable result would not occur under several conceivable condition because of consequences of an unlikely discretionary use. A discretionary conditional resignation of a possible consequence in itself is cause for scientific contexts unthinkable, but only in human decisions. Clears one who can exercise the discretion, one that has a certain discretionary decision is unlikely we also speak of granting sets.

Unreal comparison theorem
Hesitation, doubt at a question, suggestion or finding

Polite form

The subjunctive is also used as a polite form. It is used on the one hand, if one directed requests to other people:

Secondly, the conditional can act as a form of modesty in relation to themselves:

The ability to form here serves to formally mitigate the desire or the right to performance.

Subjunctive in reported speech

Replacement form for the conditional I

True in the case of groups in which the subjunctive I is the correct subjunctive form of the present indicative match, then the subjunctive I through the subjunctive be replaced in order to prevent confusion with the present indicative, in particular, in the first Ps. singular and the 1st and 3rd Ps plural is often given.

Expression of doubt on the contents of the Reported

The subjunctive is also used when the speaker towards what he reported, doubt or it is incorrect holds (implicit evaluation). for example

  • Paula said she had diligently learned ( the speaker but it does not believe ).
  • Rosa said it could not be helped.
  • Hitler was convinced that international Jewry were to blame for Germany's defeat in World War I ( no serious historian today believes more in this Dolchstosslegende ).

Subjunctive form with " would " (substitute form of the subjunctive II)

If the subjunctive II preterite form can lead to misunderstandings as a result of identity with the forms of the indicative, can an auxiliary construction with " would " be dodged. Consequently, the use of " would - subjunctive " allows for the formation of indirect speech when the subjunctive I because of its identity with the present indicative is replaced by the conditional and that its derived from the past tense normal form of the subjunctive with the indicative past tense.

On closer inspection, these are the original Futurformen the subjunctive II that have changed their function, since the future of the Germans with the present tense lexis (tomorrow, tomorrow, in two years, etc. ) is expressed more and more (see conditionalis ):

Becomes in reported speech


Formation of the forms of " would - subjunctive ": Example: go

Example: go

Example: sing

Colloquial language

In everyday language the subjunctive I is now rarely used and is usually replaced by the indicative:

Instead of

For the subjunctive is in vernacular usually the " would " form used:

Instead of

In the Bavarian dialects of the subjunctive is formed morpheme -at- the, eg findàt ( would find ), frågàt ( " asked " to mean " would ask " ), etc. However, in addition there are also irregular shapes or irregular forms with a suffix of the morpheme -AT, such as transition, and found gàngàt, fàndàt ( would, could find ). In High German, however, the displaced " would " conditional always more subjunctive I and II and is therefore already summarized by some to its own structural system of the subjunctive III.

Subjunctive in other languages

The subjunctive mode is used as a more or less visible in all Indo-European languages ​​, but usually has completely different functions. Some languages ​​distinguish additionally a optative from the actual subjunctive. Most languages ​​have similar to the German one or two special forms (such as subjunctive subjunctive I and II). Some, particularly older languages ​​( Ancient Greek, Sanskrit ), but also the French language, in addition to indicative and subjunctive verb forms other (modes ) which enable more nuances in the language.


In English, the subjunctive I is still in use in several forms. Examples include some fixed formulas as God save (instead saves ) the Queen! contactors for God (instead protects ) the Queen! or the expression of a purpose as in He closed the window read anyone see him. for He closed the window, so no one can see him .. The most important use, however, there is the expression of commands, suggestions or requests. Example: She asked did he not be ( was: is not ) told. asked this for you, that you can not tell him (instead of telling ). The subjunctive is found in systematic use in the form of words such as might, would, or could, and were in unreal "if- clauses", for example in If he (instead of what) here ( ... ) or It Looked as though it were about to start raining ..


Historical ( in Latin still clearly visible ) the subjunctive was the counterpart of the Indicative. Just as there are three times that in the indicative present tense, past tense and future tense (in each case with the early forms perfect, pluperfect and future II ), these forms would be expected also an appropriate subjunctive form for all.

While during the past two millennia these forms have partially lost in the Romance languages ​​, they are still largely obtained in latin. There are:

  • Present subjunctive
  • Imperfect subjunctive
  • Perfect subjunctive
  • Pluperfect subjunctive

The subjunctive of the two Futurformen is Latin in Coniugatio periphrastica by the past participle Present perfect with the appropriate form of the auxiliary verb esse, or it will replace it: instead of the subjunctive future tense is chosen present in relation to a Hauptempus the subjunctive, which in terms of a by Tempus imperfect subjunctive instead of the subjunctive future II in relation to a main tense of the subjunctive perfect, in terms of a by- tense of the subjunctive pluperfect.

The subjunctive is used in Latin in main clauses as Iussiv, as optative, as Hortativ, as Deliberative and as prohibitive, in conditional sentence structures as counterfactual and as potentialis, as well as in subordinate clauses, which is initiated by the conjunctions ut, cum, ne and some other introduced be, and in indirect interrogative sentences.


The subjunctive I

The German Subjunctive I has no direct equivalent in Spanish. In indirect speech applies in the Spanish consecutio Temporum, that is, the choice of tense in the subordinate clause depends on whether the statement is relative to that of the main clause prematurely, simultaneously or nachzeitig. This is illustrated in the following example. While the Germans several times the subjunctive I is used, it will change in the Spanish between different times to illustrate the sequence of events:

Despite a certain formal similarity of the Spanish subjunctive del presente is not with the German subjunctive I equate; it is generally not used in reported speech, but in a variety of other contexts in which in German the indicative would be (example: I hope it does not rain vs. Ojalá no llueva. ).

The subjunctive II

The subjunctive II corresponds to the Spanish subjunctive ( subjunctive ) and conditionalis ( condicional ).

In unreal conditional sentences are used in Spanish in the subordinate clause the subjunctive in the main clause and the conditionalis:

In no real desire and comparison sets to use in Spanish is usually the imperfect subjunctive or in the pluperfect subjunctive in ( ' condicional perfecto '):