Konjunktiv II – usage


As pointed out before, the Konjunktiv II forms of verbs are used in a variety of contexts. Here are the most important ones.

Hypothetical situations

Konjunktiv II expresses ideas and situations which are not real but just imagined, often indicating a possibility:
Dann hätte ich mehr Zeit. Then I’d have more time.
Da gäbe es mehrere Möglichkeiten. There would be several possibilities.

Conditional sentences

Conditional sentences, when expressing imagined conditions and unreal consequences, use Konjunktiv II:

Wenn ich mehr Zeit hätte, ginge ich öfters spazieren.
If I had more time I’d go for a walk more often.

Wenn ich im Lotto gewänne, machte ich eine Weltreise.
If I won the lottery I’d go on a trip around the world.

Konjunktiv II also occurs in sentences which contain phrases such as Wenn ich Sie/du wäre . . . ‘If I were you . . .’ and An Ihrer/deiner Stelle . . . ‘In your position’/‘If I were you . . .’ and is frequently used when giving advice:

An Ihrer Stelle machte ich mir nicht so viel Sorgen.
In your position/If I were you I wouldn’t so worry much.

Wenn ich du wäre, ginge ich mal zum Friseur.
If I were you I’d go to the hairdresser.

Expressing wishes

Konjunktiv II is often used in connection with wishes. These sentences also often start with wenn:

Wenn sie doch bloß pünktlicher wäre!
If only she were more punctual!

Wenn er nur bald nach Hause käme!
I wish he’d come home soon!

Adding politeness

Konjunktiv II can add a tone of politeness to a question or request and also frequently appears with indirect questions:

Wären Sie bereit, länger zu arbeiten?
Would you be prepared to work longer?

Könnten Sie mir sagen, wie viel Uhr es ist?
Could you tell me what time it is?