What is a subjunctive verb mood


If you read our up-to-date grammar material, you would learn how to create a conjunctive mood in German. So what is that? Namely, what "would" be transmitted by the particle. That is, we express an assumption, describe what is desired or describe the action. In German, these forms are almost identical in Russian and are expressed by subjunctive I and subjunctive II. The first is used pretty rarely and we'll talk about that later. And today we are going to talk about subjunctive II.

The present form of subjunctive II is formed by adding personal endings to the second form of the verb (past tense) and umlauts in the root “a”, “o”, “u” (except for the verbs “wanted” and “should”). Let us consider the example of the verb "haben" - "zu haben". The second form of this verb (simple past) is "had". We add umlauts and get “would”. Next we add the personal endings:

  • I - would havee;
  • You - would havest;
  • He, she, it - would havee (remember that in the second form the third person of the singular gets the same ending as the first person of the singular - "I");
  • We - would haveen;
  • You - would haveet;
  • You, you - would haveen;

The verb "kann" on the same principle is "could" in the past tense and "could" in subjunctive II:

  • If I had more money, (then) I could travel to Spain (“then” - “then” often missed).

We look further into different situations, let's take the verb "try". According to the founding scheme of subjunctive II (past tense + umlaut), the forms of subjunctive II and simple past are absolutely identical:

  • tried - "tried" (formerly simple past);
  • tried - "would try" (the subjective slant of subjunctive II).

I agree, "tried it out" and "tried it out" are completely different things. To avoid confusion, use the verb “werden”, which in the subjunctive II reads “would”:

Not many words will differ from the simple past in subjunctive II, so the auxiliary verb “would” is usually used to form conditional clauses with a “would”. You do not use it with modal verbs, with the verb “to be” (“would”) “to be” and with the verb “have” (“would”) “to have”:

One of the most popular uses of the subjunctive II, as in Russian, is a polite form:

  • I would like some tea;
  • Could you speak more quietly, please?

We continue to decompose the subjunctive mood - Konjunktiv II in German. The form of the past tense - perfect is formed in the same way, but instead of the usual auxiliary verbs “haben” and “sein” we use the same verbs in subjunctive II: “would”, “would”:

  • If I had gone to the cinema yesterday, we would have met.

Compare it with the usual perfect offer without subjunctive II:

  • I went to the cinema yesterday and we met.

The only difference is that the auxiliary verbs in the first sentence are in subjunctive II, so they express a particle "would", and "if" changes the word order and sends the declination verb to the end.

Note that the Russian language has such a nuance that we say, "When I go to the cinema". This is of course a form of the past tense, but we can keep an eye on the past as well as the present and the future (“when I go to the cinema tomorrow”), but in German we use the form described above for the past tense.

The future time, like the present, is expressed by the verb “would” + verb in the infinitive. And the modal verbs, the verb “sein” (“would”) “to be” and the verb “haben” (“would”) “have”, as in the present, are used directly in the subjunctive II (past tense + umlaut) :

  • I would move to Germany next year;
  • I would have more time tomorrow.

Now that you know everything you need to know about subjunctive II. Next we will talk about the less popular form of the subjunctive I used for direct speech. Still, it is used and knowing about such things would not harm your language skills.