Subjunctive & Conditional Forms

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Subjunctive & Conditional Forms

Postby Flautist » 2018-01-21, 13:38

Hi,
I'm only recently beginning to learn German, and there has already been a lot of quick progress (particularly adjectives, nouns, determiners etc), but when reading through various sources - both online and in numerous texts - I find that there is a very big difference in how the subjunctives are presented. Are there 2, 4, 6 or 8 forms? As I recall, Hammer's grammar text stated that all the forms of the indicative forms appear in the subjunctive, as well as the corresponding passive forms. However, that is the only source I have encountered to say as such. An online conjugator, Reverso I believe, noted that the perfekt and plusquamperfekt of the subjunctive are only used in colloquial speech and note recommended. Again, the only such source to say this. Often the material I read through doesn't include the conditional forms. I have seen 2 and 4 forms. Why 2 in one instance, and 4 in another? I find all of this quite confusing and irreconcilable. I'm in the process of producing a conjugation table in excel and want to memorize the irregular verbs, but my progress is stymied because I haven't the faintest idea what I am supposed to be doing for the subjunctive or conditional! Can someone please tell me what the full set of forms are for both of these and put me out of my misery? Any help very much appreciated.

Kind regards

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Re: Subjunctive & Conditional Forms

Postby linguoboy » 2018-01-21, 15:12

I confess to being confused myself. Unlike most Romance languages, German has no conditional forms, which is probably why you can't find them. As for subjunctive forms, it has two: Konjunktiv 1 and Konjunktiv 2. Konjunktiv 1 looks very similar to the indicative, differing chiefly in the 3S forms, e.g. habe for hat. It can also be replaced with the indicative in its chief use, which is to represent reported speech: Sie sagt, sie habe ein Auto and Sie sagt, sie hat ein Auto are both correct, with the latter being more common in speech. Here's what the full set of forms looks like for the verb haben: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/haben#Conjugation.

It sounds like a lot of work to create your own Excel file. The book 501 German verbs, which lists out full conjugations for all the irregular verbs, is cheap and easy to find. I've seen copies online selling for as little as $2.
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Re: Subjunctive & Conditional Forms

Postby caleteu » 2018-01-21, 19:52

German does have a conditional: Würde + Infinitive. Back when I was learning German, we were taught never to use the conditional instead of Konjunktiv 2, but nowadays everyone does:
Also:
"Wenn ich das machen würde, würde ich gewinnen" instead of "Wenn ich das machte, würde ich gewinnen"
The Konjunktiv 1 (and nowadays the Konjunktiv 2) is used for indirect speech, when you are unsure whether the statement is true or not. The indicative indicates that you believe the statement.

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Re: Subjunctive & Conditional Forms

Postby linguoboy » 2018-01-21, 21:37

caleteu wrote:German does have a conditional: Würde + Infinitive.

That's a compound verbal construction, not a synthetic form. If you're going to include that in a conjugation chart, you might as well include könnte + infinitive, müsste + infinitive, dürfte + infinitive, and so on and so forth.
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Re: Subjunctive & Conditional Forms

Postby kevin » 2018-01-22, 11:08

linguoboy wrote:As for subjunctive forms, it has two: Konjunktiv 1 and Konjunktiv 2. Konjunktiv 1 looks very similar to the indicative, differing chiefly in the 3S forms, e.g. habe for hat.

The second person forms differ, too, retaining the "e" that the indicative forms have lost: "du sagest/ihr saget" compared to indicative "du sagst/ihr sagt".

What cannot be seen from these simple examples is that verbs with umlaut in the second/third person indicative don't have that umlaut in the subjunctive, also irregular verbs tend to use a stem closer to the infinitive: "ich will/wolle", "ich kann/könne", "ich darf/dürfe", "ich bin/sei", ..., "du trägst/tragest", "du gibst/gebest", "er läuft/laufe".

It can also be replaced with the indicative in its chief use, which is to represent reported speech: Sie sagt, sie habe ein Auto and Sie sagt, sie hat ein Auto are both correct, with the latter being more common in speech.

Using the indicative there is colloquial speech, and as you say very common there. Still, in a newspaper, I wouldn't consider it optional. If a newspaper uses the indicative instead of subjunctive, that looks unprofessional to me. Which is at least partly because...

caleteu wrote:The Konjunktiv 1 (and nowadays the Konjunktiv 2) is used for indirect speech, when you are unsure whether the statement is true or not. The indicative indicates that you believe the statement.

...Konjunktiv I is the proper neutral form for reported speech. Konjunktiv II signals doubt, whereas indicative accepts the reported statement as true.

German does have a conditional: Würde + Infinitive. Back when I was learning German, we were taught never to use the conditional instead of Konjunktiv 2, but nowadays everyone does:

Why would you call that "conditional"? Just because it's formed like the English conditional? It doesn't have a separate grammatical function, it's merely an alternative form for the Konjunktiv II that means exactly the same. A common stylistic recommendation is to use "würde" when the subjunctive form would be the same as the indicative preterite, but it's only stylistic.

Flautist wrote:I find that there is a very big difference in how the subjunctives are presented. Are there 2, 4, 6 or 8 forms?

So, to sum up what we discussed so far: It depends on how you count. The basic undeniable fact about German is that there are Konjunktiv I and II with a full conjugation of separate verbs forms. For all tenses that use a compound form in the indicative, you just use the Konjunktiv I/II of the auxiliary verb (sein/haben/werden), so for example "ich bin gerannt" -> "ich sei gerannt" (Konjunktiv I) / "ich wäre gerannt" (Konjunktiv II). Some people may count this as separate forms of "rennen", but as you can see, there's nothing really new in those.

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Re: Subjunctive & Conditional Forms

Postby linguoboy » 2018-01-22, 16:38

kevin wrote:
linguoboy wrote:As for subjunctive forms, it has two: Konjunktiv 1 and Konjunktiv 2. Konjunktiv 1 looks very similar to the indicative, differing chiefly in the 3S forms, e.g. habe for hat.

The second person forms differ, too, retaining the "e" that the indicative forms have lost: "du sagest/ihr saget" compared to indicative "du sagst/ihr sagt".

Thus why I said "chiefly". Presence or absence of a shwa is a small difference compared with a complete change of ending. Also, IME, the 3S forms are the most commonly used (partly because they're the most distinctive).

There are a lot of quirks to subjunctive usage in German (as there are in any language with this sort of modal distinction), but the OP was asking first and foremost about distinctive forms. I question the value of memorising slews of conjugated forms devoid of context, but in the end it's about what works for you personally when learning a language.
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Re: Subjunctive & Conditional Forms

Postby kevin » 2018-01-22, 18:05

linguoboy wrote:Thus why I said "chiefly". Presence or absence of a shwa is a small difference compared with a complete change of ending.

Yes, though both changes in the ending feel small compared to the changes in the stem in those cases where it happens (and it happens for many common verbs). But maybe that's just me.

Also, IME, the 3S forms are the most commonly used (partly because they're the most distinctive).

I think it's mostly because in colloquial language the Konjunktiv I isn't used much, and in formal contexts, you're just less likely to use first or second person verbs. If someone uses subjunctive forms for the third person, I would be surprised if they didn't use them for the first/second person.

Did you see people use the 3S forms, but avoiding subjunctive forms otherwise?

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Re: Subjunctive & Conditional Forms

Postby Flautist » 2018-01-29, 12:33

Hi,
My apologise for not posting sooner. I think I have this sorted now and am settled upon the following forms:

Indicative

Present
Past
Future 1
Perfect
Pluperfect
Future 2 (Future Perfect)

Konjunktiv 1

Present
Past
Future 1
Future 2

Konjunktiv 1

Present
Past
Future 1
Future 2

And of course the imperative forms, the two participles and four infinitives. It took me some time but I see where the confusion arises; It's to do with the naming of these tenses and moods. Observe:

Present: Is usually called Präsens or Gegenwart.

Simple Past: Is usually called Präteritum or Imperfekt. Other English names for the simple past include the 'Imperfect', 'Preterite' and 'Narrative Past'.

Present Subjunctive 1: Is usually called Konjunkiv 1 Präsens, or simply Konjunktiv Präsens. Other English names include the 'Present Subjunctive', 'Present Subjunctive, Primary' and 'Special Subjunctive'.

Present Subjunctive 2: Because the form of this tense is based on the simple past form, it is called Konjunktiv II Prõteritum or Konjunktiv Imperfekt in German and sometimes called 'Simple Past Subjunctive' or 'Past Subjunctive' in English. This can be misleading, however, because the tense expresses time in the present. Other names in English include the 'General Subjunctive' and 'Present Subjunctive, Secondary'.

Future: Is usually called Futur 1 or simply Zunkunft in German.

Future Subjunctive 1: Is usually called Konjunktiv Futur I in German. Other English names include 'Future Subjunctive, Primary', and 'Future Subjunctive'.

Future Subjunctive 2: Is usually called Konjunktiv Futur II in German. Other names in English include 'Future Subjunctive, Secondary' and 'Present Conditional'.

Present Perfect: Often called Perfekt. In English, the 'Perfect Tense' or 'Conversational Past'.

Past Perfect: Usually called Plusquamperfekt in German. In English, another is 'Pluperfect'.

Past Subjunctive 1: Often called Konjunktiv Perfekt in German. In English, the 'Perfect Subjunctive' or 'Past Subjunctive, Primary'.

Past Subjunctive 2: Often called Konjunktiv Plusquamperfekt in German. In English, 'Pluperfect Subjunctive', 'Past Perfect Subjunctive', 'Past Subjunctive, Secondary'.

Future Perfect: Usually called Futur II or vollendete Zunkunft in German.

Future Perfect Subjunctive 1: Usually called Konjunktiv Futur II in German. In English, 'Future Perfect Subjunctive, Primary'.

Future Perfect Subjunctive 2: Often Konditional Perfekt in German. In English, the 'Perfect Conditional', 'Past Conditional', 'Future Perfect Subjunctive, Secondary'.

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Re: Subjunctive & Conditional Forms

Postby vijayjohn » 2018-09-13, 6:37

I have always been confused as to why der Konjunktiv and the Italic subjunctive are both called subjunctive in English. Or, in general, how the English term applies cross-linguistically (how do you decide that 'I would go' is "conditional mood" in Spanish but "subjunctive mood" in German?).

Is it that these two kinds of "subjunctive" overlap in English and some other languages?

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Re: Subjunctive & Conditional Forms

Postby Ser » 2018-09-13, 15:25

vijayjohn wrote:I have always been confused as to why der Konjunktiv and the Italic subjunctive are both called subjunctive in English. Or, in general, how the English term applies cross-linguistically (how do you decide that 'I would go' is "conditional mood" in Spanish but "subjunctive mood" in German?).

Is it that these two kinds of "subjunctive" overlap in English and some other languages?

In the ancient Roman and early medieval Latin grammars there was originally no "modus subiunctivus". What we call the subjunctive in Latin was called "modus coniunctivus", but then the term subiunctivus appeared and spread partially replacing it.

And yeah, the Latin subjunctive is used to say "I would go" (sī id facerēs, īrem) and "I would've gone" (sī id fēcissēs, īssem), since Latin doesn't have a distinct conditional, explaining the origin of all this.
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Re: Subjunctive & Conditional Forms

Postby vijayjohn » 2018-10-18, 6:03

Sorry for being so late, but thanks! :)


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