Summary of the comparison

  1) Change of the mode

In English the mode of the verbs are not changed. In German the mode is changed from indicative to conjunctive.

  2) Change of the tense

In English the tense of the introductory verb defines the change of the tenses in the subordinate clause. In German the tenses are not changed (only the mode - see 1)).

  Have a look at these examples

He says: "I bought a car." Er sagt: "Ich kaufte mir ein Auto."
He says that he bought a car. Er sagt, dass er sich ein Auto gekauft habe."
He said: "I bought a car." Er sagte: "Ich kaufte mir ein Auto."
He said that he had bought a car. Er sagte, dass er sich ein Auto gekauft habe."

  3) The English system is stable

The English system is stable. Persons that have English as mother tongue do not necessarily know the rules but they follow them. The German system is not stable. There are too many rules and actually hardly anyone follows them (not to speak about knowing them). Therefore the construction with the conditional form is widely used (even though it is not correct in many cases).

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