19.4.2 Conjunctive in reported speech

The reported speech in German is independent from the introductory verb. The conjunctive I is to be used. The orientation into future, present or past just gives the mode of the conjunctive form.

Reported speech in German
pronoun introductory verb (orientation into)
use of
subordinate phrase  
sagt (future) dass sie Schuhe kaufen werde.
sagte compound conjunctive I for future dass er ein Haus bauen werde.
hat gesagt (present time) dass sie Schuhe kaufe.
hatte gesagt simple conjunctive I for present tense dass er ein Haus baue.
wird sagen (past) dass sie Schuhe gekauft habe.
wird gesagt haben compound conjunctive I for past dass er ein Haus gebaut habe.

In reported speech the conjunctive I is not distinguished in its function from conjunctive II. The conjunctive II can only occur in the reported speech for two reasons:

1. It substitutes the conjunctive I that is identical to the indicative present and for this reason ambiguous. In this case it is legitimate to use the conjunctive II.

The speaker does not know the correct form of conjunctive I and therefore uses the conjunctive II. In these cases the use of conjunctive II would be wrong. But it happens so frequently that nobody notices anymore phrases with conjunctive II as an error.

contact privacy statement imprint