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     Table of Contents Chapter 19 19.2 English System vs. German System
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Chapter 19: Conjunctive, Conditional and Reported speech

  19.2 English System vs. German System


In English the conjunctive, conditional and reported speech are structured and used in a much defined way. Let's say right away that the Germans themselves don't even use their rules correctly not to mention that they don't actually know the rules of the Duden. And Germans would mostly only notice really big mistakes in the use of the conjunctive, conditional and reported speech. So, if you don't actually intend to study in Germany then you can start to relax and not try too hard to get through the chaos we are about to present you. First for reasons of comparison the English version:

   English conjunctive I: identical to infinitive
God Save the Queen!
  God bless you!
   English conjunctive imperfect: identical to imperfect
If he really tried he could make it.
  If you asked me nicely I would bring you some tea.
   English conditional past perfect: identical to past perfect
If I had been in the same situation I would have done it better.
  He would have brought you the tea if you had asked nicely.
   English conditional I: imperfect of will (= would) + infinitive
He would bring you the tea if you asked nicely.
  You would buy the shoes.
  English conditional II: perfect of will (= would have) + perfect participle
  If we had known we would have come.
  He would have brought you the tea if you had asked nicely.
The conjunctive I is used only in certain phrases. Usually the conditional takes the place of the conjunctive.

These forms are also used for conditional clauses (we'll come back to them later). For reported speech it is used as well, but only to indicate the use of future tenses (we'll come back to that one later, too).

Then we have the German way that has actually own forms for conditional I and conditional II. And in addition to this the Germans use (actually mostly) a conjunctive with würde (past tense forms of werden). The use is in conditional clauses and in all types of reported speech-sentences. There are rules - but as already said - most Germans are not really aware of them. They are too confusing even for native speakers. However let's have a look at the formation of the conjunctive I.

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