In English the conjunctive, conditional and reported speech are structured and used in a much defined
way. Let's say right away that the Germans themselves
don't even use their rules correctly not to mention
that they don't actually know the rules of the Duden.
And Germans would mostly only notice really big mistakes
in the use of the conjunctive, conditional and reported
speech. So, if you don't actually intend to study in
Germany then you can start to relax and not try too
hard to get through the chaos we are about to present
you. First for reasons of comparison the English version:
I: identical to infinitive
God Save the Queen!
God bless you!
imperfect: identical to imperfect
If he really tried
he could make it.
If you asked
me nicely I would bring you some tea.
past perfect: identical to past perfect
If I had
been in the same situation I would
have done it better.
He would have brought
you the tea if you had
I: imperfect of will (= would) + infinitive
bring you the tea if you asked nicely.
buy the shoes.
English conditional II: perfect of will
(= would have) + perfect participle
If we had known we would
have brought you the tea if you had
The conjunctive I is used only in certain phrases.
Usually the conditional takes the place of the conjunctive.
These forms are also used for conditional clauses (we'll
come back to them later). For reported speech it is
used as well, but only to indicate the use of future
tenses (we'll come back to that one later, too).
Then we have the German way that has actually own forms
for conditional I and conditional II. And in addition
to this the Germans use (actually mostly) a conjunctive
with würde (past
tense forms of werden). The use is in conditional clauses
and in all types of reported speech-sentences. There
are rules - but as already said - most Germans are not
really aware of them. They are too confusing even for
native speakers. However let's have a look at the formation
of the conjunctive I.