Konjunktiv 2: Anwendung & Bildung – Präsens, Futur & Vergangenheit

Using the Konjunktiv 2 with modal auxiliaries works the same way that it does with “würden”, but obviously you have the option of adding another verb to the mix, which will be in the infinitive form at the end of the clause or sentence. 

To form the modal verbs in the Konjunktiv 2, start with the Präteritum indicative form and add umlauts with everything except “sollen” and “wollen“.

“dürfen”

ich dürfte – I would be allowed
du dürftest – you would be allowed
er, sie, es dürfte – he, she, it would be allowed
wir dürften – we would be allowed to
ihr dürftet – you would be allowed to
sie, Sie dürften – they, you would be allowed to

Examples of “dürfen”

Ich dürfte kein Eis essen, wenn ich laktoseintolerant wäre.
I wouldn’t be allowed to eat ice cream if I were lactose intolerant. 

Dürftest du mit mir ins Kino gehen, wenn wir älter wären?
Would you be allowed to go to the movies with me, if we were older?

“können”

ich könnte – I could
du könntest – you could
er, sie, es könnte – he, she, it could
wir könnten – we could
ihr könntet – you could
sie, Sie können – they, you could

Examples of “können”

Könntest du bitte leise kauen?
Could you please chew quietly? 

Er könnte eine ganze Stadt kaufen.
He could buy an entire city.

“sollen”

ich sollte – I should
du solltest – you should
er, sie, es sollte – he, she, it should
wir sollten – we should
ihr solltet – you should
sie, Sie sollten – they, you should

Examples of “sollen”

Er sollte ins Bett gehen.
He should go to bed. 

Wir sollten unsre Hausaufgaben machen.
We should do our homework.

“müssen”

ich müsste – I would have to
du müsstest – you would have to
er, sie, es müsste – he, she, it would have to
wir müssten – we would have to
ihr müsstet – you would have to
sie, Sie müssten – they, you would have to

Examples of “müssen”

Wir müssten das nicht tun.
We wouldn’t have to do that. 

Müsstet ihr den Fernseher zurückbringen?
Would you have to bring back the TV?

“wollen”

ich wollte – I would want
du wolltest – you would want
er, sie, es wollte – he, she, it would want
wir wollten – we would want
ihr wolltet – you would want
sie, Sie wollten – they, you would want

Examples of “wollen”

Was wolltet ihr Einstein fragen?
What would you want to ask Einstein? 

Die Kinder wollten alles aufessen.
The children would want to eat up everything.

“mögen”

ich möchte – I would like
du möchtest – you would like
er, sie, es möchte – he, she, it would like
wir möchten – we would like
ihr möchtet – you would like
sie, Sie möchten – they, you would like

Examples of “mögen”

Möchten Sie etwas trinken?
Would you like something to drink? 

Ich möchte den Rinderbraten bestellen.
I would like to order the roast beef.

You get the general idea by now. If you are unsure if you should use the “würden” + infinitive construction or the simple past + umlauts construction, choose the “würden” + infinitive format. It is the more common option and avoid you using some weird form of a verb that you are unsure of. 

Konjunktiv 2 in the Past Tense –
Konjunktiv 2 in der Vergangenheit

All of what I have told you so far is about the Konjunktiv 2 is in the present tense. If you want to talk about the future in the Konjunktiv 2, simply use the “würden” + infinitive construction I mentioned before. If you want to talk about the past, however, unlike in the indicative, there is only one past tense with the Konjunktiv 2.

Start with the Perfekt tense. This will give you the past participle you need at the end of the sentence and your helping verb, either “haben” or “sein”. Then conjugate the helping verb “haben” or “sein” in the Konjunktiv 2 and formulate the rest of your sentence like you would in the Perfekt tense. For example: 

Mein Bruder wäre Anwalt, wenn er sein Studium fertig gemacht hätte.
My brother would be a lawyer, if he had finished his studies.

In this sentence you can see that the verb “haben” changed to the Konjunktiv 2 version “hätte”. The other verb in the clause “machen” is used as a Partizip 2 (past participle). I chose “hätte” instead of “wäre” in that clause, as “machen” requires “haben” in the Perfekt tense.

Examples in the Past with Konjunktiv 2
Beispiele in der Vergangenheit mit dem Konjunktiv 2

Ich habe viel Spaß gehabt. Ich bin zu Hause geblieben.
I had a lot of fun. I stayed at home.

Ich hätte mehr Spaß gehabt, wäre ich nicht zu Hause geblieben.
I would have had more fun, if I wouldn’t have stayed at home.

Ich habe die Lektion nicht verstanden. Ich habe nicht wirklich zugehört.
I didn’t understand the lesson. I didn’t really listen.

Ich hätte die Lektion verstanden, wenn ich wirklich zugehört hätte.
I would have understood the lesson, if I had really listened.

Meine Schwester ist ins Kino gegangen. Sie hat kein Geld.
My sister went to the movie theater. She has no money.

Wäre meine Schwester nicht ins Kino gegangen, hätte sie Geld.
If my sister hadn’t gone to the movies, she would have money.

Hätte er den ganzen Kuchen nicht gegessen, hätte er keine Bauchschmerzen.
Had he not eaten the entire cake, he wouldn’t have a stomach ache.

Wären wir nicht ins Kino gegangen, hätten wir unseren Chef nicht getroffen.
Had we not gone to the movie theater, we wouldn’t have met our boss. 

Konjunktiv 2 with the Song “Was wäre wenn” by Thomas Godoj

The song “Was wäre wenn” by Thomas Godoj can teach you a lot about the Konjunktiv 2 in German. In the video above I talk about how it can teach you the basics of the simple past (preterite/Präteritum/Imperfekt) and of the conditional (Konjunktiv 2). Watch the video above to learn more about the Konjunktiv 2 and watch the video below to listen to the song.

Herr Antrim
Herr Antrim is a German teacher with over 10 years of teaching experience. In 2011 he started his successful YouTube Channel "Learn German with Herr Antrim". In 2015 he created this website to enhance the German language lessons he was providing on YouTube. He is now the author of his own e-book, "Beginner German with Herr Antrim". He has also been featured on numerous blogs and other sites. *This site uses a variety of affiliate links. If there is a link that leads to an outside site from which you could potentially make a purchase, it is very likely an affiliate link for which Herr Antrim will receive a small portion of your purchase. This does not cost you any extra, but it does help keep this website going. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you would like more information about the affiliate programs this site uses, click here.
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