Are these German verbs in Konjunktiv I? or what?

How does this third person conjugation work?
I have collected 3 examples below (unternehme, fordere, erschwere) but I often encounter many others.

It should be in present verb, with the verb ending in -t, and instead? Is it Konjunktiv I?


  1. Einige Produktkategorien würden auch niemals die Kriterien für die Bezeichnung “gesund” erfüllen können, so das Dokument demnach weiter - ganz gleich, welche Anstrengungen Nestlé zu diesem Zweck unternehme.

  2. Der FC Turin habe jedoch abgelehnt und fordere mindestens 30 Millionen.

  3. Die Delta-Variante erschwere es, Vorhersagen für den 21. Juni zu machen, räumte Hancock jetzt ein.

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Somebody with much better knowledge will have to confirm, but I think you’re correct. I’m wondering if it’s being used for “reported speech” or “indirect speech”. i.e. did these sentences come from a newspaper or something along those line?

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Yes, you have here some examples of Konjunktiv 1.
We use Konjunktive to express some suppositions, assumtions, desires, instructions, indirect considerations and in mathematic tasks, for example:
Man nehme Salz und löse es in Wasser auf.
Die Strecke zwischen den Städten Berlin und Köln sei 500 km.
Es sei noch erwähnt, dass wir das Ergebnis des Versuchs bekanntgeben werden.
But pay attention to the fact that in spoken German we use now more often Indikativ than Konjunktiv.


Thanks. I still have to study or learn about it because I basically just would use the indikativ.

Thanks. All of these come from newspapers. It’s what I use for reading in this moment. Generally short or medium articles. I’ll have to look at the grammar sooner or later.

Hi, Eric & Davide!

Eric is right, Konjunktiv I is used in those sentences because it’s reported speech.
Often, such “Konjunktivsätze” contain (explicit) indications that the information comes from another source:

  • so das Dokument demnach weiter = laut dem Dokument
  • räumte Hancock ein = laut Hancock
  • Der FC Turin habe jedoch abgelehnt und fordere - laut einer offiziellen oder inoffiziellen Quelle, die Insiderinfos über den FC Turin hat (the official / inofficial source is implicit here).
    So, there is some uncertainty about the quality of the information → Konjunktiv, kein Indikativ.
    Have a nice day



Thank you very much Peter, this info is very useful.

I understand easily the Konjunktiv II, that I would have used for uncertainty. But the Konjunktiv I is something very rarely used in my language and I can see that in German is used quite often in many situations.

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You’re welcome, Davide!

But, you don’t have to worry too much about Konjunktiv I and II. From a communicative point of view, the “Indikativ” is the dominant mode in German. In contrast, the “Konjunktiv” is a bit like the underdeveloped little brother of the much more sophisticated subjunctive mode in Romance languages.

Is the “Konjunktiv” important for communication? Usually not. Often, German native speakers will understand what you say/write just fine even if you use the “Indikativ” instead of the “Konjunktiv”.
Besides, even German native speakers, especially those without an academic background, can be quite “sloppy” when using the “Konjunktiv” in everyday communication. In short: They just use the “Indikativ” :slight_smile:

I know this isn’t the view of those German native speakers (e.g., some teachers) who believe that “ein gepflegtes Deutsch” is important. Of course, the “Konjunktiv” is important for nuance. But many informal communication processes work well even when “Konjunktiv” forms are omitted.

Perhaps as a communicative rule of thumb:
The more formal and academic the situation, the more important is the correct use of the “Konjunktiv” (and of a “gepflegtes Deutsch” in general) So, the two main distinctions in this context are:

  • informal or formal?
  • oral or written?
    I’d say in many informal and oral situations, omitting Konjunktivformen is the standard in German (because a lot of people consider it too complicated). But this also depends on the social milieu (keyword: sociolects).

Have a nice weekend


Thanks for this explanation Peter, it really helps.

Do you think that in written language, which means if I write without pretending to be sophisticated, I could use the indicative or the K II instead of the K I without any problem?

I know there are people that even think that we should write like we speak (of course in a correct grammar). But those examples above, and others similar, could be easily written in indicative or K II without being considered bad mistakes by casual German readers?

That would avoid me to learn to write in K I but still understand it when I read it.

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Do you think that in written language, which means if I write without pretending to be sophisticated, I could use the indicative or the K II instead of the K I without any problem?
The important point here is the degree of (in-)formality:

  • the more formal the written (or oral) situation, the more likely the nuanced use of the Konjunktiv I / II. This is the case with newspaper articles and literary, academic, administrative, etc. texts.
  • the more informal the communication (i.e. in everyday dialogs, emails / chats, Youtube comments, etc.), the more likely it is that the Indikativ will prevail almost entirely.

Can you use K II instead of K I ?

  • The most common use case for K II are polite requests / tentative questions, e.g.: Könntest Du mir helfen? Wärst Du so nett / freundlich, mir zu helfen? etc. Other use cases (mentioned here: Konjunktiv – the Subjunctive Mood in German Grammar) are less frequent and usually found only in more formal communication, i.e., elaborate, written texts.
  • K II refers to the past, K I to the present. So, it makes a difference which form of Konjunktiv you use. In general, you use K II instead of K I when you want to distinguish “Indikativ” and “Konjunktiv”, but the forms of Indikativ and Konjunktiv I are the same. That is. “There is no difference between the subjunctive (PB: Konjunktiv) I and the indicative in the 1st person singular (ich), as well as the 1st and 3rd person plural (wir, sie) which is why we have to use the subjunctive (PB: Konjunktiv) II in this situation. Example:„Sie gehen joggen.“ – Er sagt, sie gingen joggen. (subj. II)” (Konjunktiv – the Subjunctive Mood in German Grammar) However: in everyday (informal) communication, German native speakers will just say: “Er sagt, sie gehen joggen” (Indikativ) or “Er sagt, sie würden joggen gehen. (Konjunktiv II von werden + Infinitiv)”

The general long term trend in German usage is to replace more complicated synthetic with much simpler analytical verb forms. That is:

  • Past tense → present perfect tense. For example: Ich tat, du tatest, er / sie es tat, etc. (infinitive: tun) → ich habe getan, du hast getan, er / sie / es hat getan, etc.
  • Konjunktiv II verb forms → Konjunktiv II of werden + infinitive. For example: ich täte, du tätest, er / sie / es täte, etc. (infinitive: tun) → ich würde tun, du würdest tun, er / sie / es würde tun, etc.
    The communicative reason for this long-term substitution process: Analytical verb forms (Hilfsverb haben + past participle and Hilfsverb werden as K II form + infinitive) are easier to build, understand, and memorize.

“I know there are people that even think that we should write like we speak.”
I’d say this opinion is nothing more than an “illusion / wishful thinking”.
I don’t know if you want to dive deeper in this topic, but here’s a nice article comparing theoretical and statistical approaches as to why we have to deal with graphic / phonetic media and a “proliferation” of oral / written conceptions:

That would avoid me to learn to write in K I but still understand it when I read it.
Unfortunately, it depends on the type of text you want to write and the overall communication situation. It’s ok to use Indikativ instead of K I / II in “informal / orally oriented” texts ( emails, chats, etc.). But, you will definitely use Indikativ, K I and K II in more formal / elaborate, i.e. not orally oriented (“written” - see the link above) texts. In the latter case, more nuance is expected and the distinction between these three grammatical moods is a part of it.

For simplicity’s sake, my recommendation would be:

  • If you want to consider the forms of Konjunktiv, it’s a good a idea to focus more on Konjunktiv I [esp. the most common verbs, that is: sein (ich sei, du seist, etc.) und haben (ich habe, du habest, etc.)] than on Konjunktiv II because the former are more frequent than the latter. And the typical use case for K I is: reported speech.
  • For Konjunktiv II, it’s probably enough to focus on the use case mentioned above (“polite requests / tenative questions”): Könnten Sie / könntest du …? and Würden Sie / würdest Du…?
    This isn’t a “perfect recipe”, but a pragmatic application of the Pareto principle.
    Hope that helps.

Have a nice Sunday in Bella Italia


Thank you Peter. You have been very helpful with your reply. I understand very well what you wanted to express and the differences are very clear.

I will definitely take in consideration your suggestions.

Thanks again :slight_smile:

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