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Conditional Part 2 (Konjunktiv II) Subjunctive II Verb Forms


I. Recap

The conditional in German is expressed through the Konjunktiv II also known as the second subjunctive. There are two ways to convey the conditional in German: using the modal verb würden with an infinitive (the method used most of the time), or by using the specific conditional conjugation of the verb (the subjunctive II form). The würden option is discussed further in another lesson.

Ich würde es wissen (conditional conveyed with würden).
I would know it.

Das wüsste ich nicht (subjunctive II).
I wouldn’t know that.

II. Subjunctive II vs. Würden

A. Most verbs, especially in the spoken language, use würden to express the conditional. This is mainly due to the fact that the subjunctive II forms of regular verbs are indistinguishable from their simple past forms because both take the endings: (-e, -est, -e, -en, -et, -en). Subjunctive II forms may be found in older texts, but the use of würden is becoming more and more popular even in writing.

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