German Subjunctive

In German, there are several modes: the indicative, the subjunctive and the imperative. There are two types of subjunctive, they are used in different cases.

I. Subjunctive I (Konjunktiv I) in German

There are three main tenses to the Subjunctive I: the Subjunctive I Present, the Subjunctive I Past (with sein or haben to the perfect) and the Subjunctive I Futur (with werden and the infinitive of the verb).

The main use of the subjunctive I is indirect speech. It is used to relate someone’s words. It can also be used in some formulations.

1. Subjunctive I Present

The Subjunctive I (Konjunktiv I) is formed by adding the following endings to the present tense: -e, -est, -e, -en, -et, -en. The only exception is the verb sein, which has a special construction. Here are two examples to illustrate :

Subjunctive I Present sein
ich sei
du seist
er, sie, es sei
wir sein
ihr seiet
sie, Sie sein
Subjunctive I Present machen
ich mache
du machest
er, sie, es mache
wir machen
ihr machet
sie, Sie machen

2. Subjunctive II Past

In the past participle, the Subjunctive I is formed with the auxiliary haben followed by the verb in the infinitive.

Subjunctive I Past machen
ich habe gemacht
du habest gemacht
er/sie/es habe gemacht
wir haben gemacht
ihr habet gemacht
sie/Sie haben gemacht

3. Subjunctive I Futur

In the future tense, the Subjunctive I is formed with the auxiliary werden (in Subjunctive I Present) followed by the verb to the infinitive

Subjunctive I Futur machen
ich werde machen
du werdest machen
er/sie/es werde machen
wir werden machen
ihr werdet machen
sie/Sie werden machen

II. Subjunctive II (Konjunktiv II) in German

Subjunctive I is used primarily for indirect speech, while Subjunctive II replaces Subjunctive I where there is a risk of confusion. Subjunctive II corresponds to the English conditional.

1. Subjunctive II (Present)

For weak verbs (regular verbs), the Subjunctive II Present has the same form as the preterite. If the verb is strong, it is formed with the stem of the verb in the preterite with the following endings: -e, -est, -e, -en, -et, -en and a verbal inflexion for a, o and u.

2. Subjunctive II (Past)

In the past tense, the Subjunctive II is formed with haben or sein (in the Subjunctive II Present) and the past participle II

3. Subjunctive II (Futur)

In the future tense, the Subjunctive II is formed with the verb in the infinitive preceded by the auxiliary werden.