Conjugation of the Konjunktiv II

CA84

 

The temporal aspect is important in the use of the Konjunktiv II. As in the indicative, certain tense forms are used also in the Konjunktiv II to express the present, past and future.

 

indicative
 
time
 
Konjunktiv II
         
present tense
 
present
 
Präteritum (A)
würden + present infinitive (B)
 
       
Präteritum
present perfect
past perfect
 
past
 
past perfect (C)
 
       
simple future (Future I)
 
future
 
würden + present infinitive (B)
future perfect (Future II)
würden + perfect infinitive (D)

 

 

Rules:

 

1. To express the present, two forms are used in the Konjunktiv II, the Präteritum (A) and würden + present infinitive (B). In theory, the Präteritum (A) is selected for irregular verbs and würden + present infinitive (B) for regular verbs.

 

However, in everyday spoken language, the Präteritum (A) is mostly used with auxiliary verbs (sein, haben, werden), modal verbs (dürfen, können, müssen, sollen, wollen), as well as with irregular verbs like kommen, gehen, lassen, geben.

 

Otherwise, and as a principle, the form würden + present infinitive (B) is selected. A summarized overview follows below:

 

expression of present time in the Konjunktiv II Präteritum (A) würden + present infinitive (B) tense form
auxiliary verbs regular verbs verb categories
modal verbs irregular verbs
(certain irregular verbs)  

 

The reason that the form würden + present infinitive (B) is selected instead of the Präteritum (A) is attributed to the fact that:

a. the form of the Präteritum indicative is identical to the Konjunktiv II Präteritum form of regular verbs and

b. the Konjunktiv II Präteritum form of irregular verbs sounds old-fashioned and obsolete.

 

 

2. In the Konjunktiv II, only one form is used to express the past : the past perfect (C). As in the indicative, verbs in the Konjunktiv II are also categorized in verbs that form the past perfect with the auxiliary verb haben and those that form the past perfect with the auxiliary verb sein.

 

3. In the Konjunktiv II, as in the indicative, two tenses express future time: simple future (Future I) würden + present infinitive (B) and future perfect (Future II) würden + perfect infinitive (D).

 


 

 

Notes:

 

1. The Präteritum (A), like the form würden + present infinitive (B), can also express the future.

 

2. The form würden + perfect infinitive (D) can (rarely and only in everyday spoken language) be used instead of the past perfect (C).