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Hast du schon einmal so getan, als ob du schlafen würdest?

Does it mean "Have you ever acted as if you slept" or "Have you ever acted as if you wanted to sleep"?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

"würde" is not the correct form either way:

Hast du schon einmal so getan, als ob du [schliefest / schlafen würdest].

means: "Have you ever acted as if you slept." Würde is used as an auxiliary for the subjunctive form of "schlafen". But there is also the "correct" pure subjunctive. Only a few verbs are still built that way, because it is way easier to just append the correct form of "würde" than memorize the correct subjunctive form of the word.

On the other hand "Have you ever acted as if you wanted to sleep?" would be:

Hast du schon einmal so getan, als ob du schlafen wölltest?

"wollen" is one of the words, where the subjunctive is built the old-fashioned way. But this is also gradually getting replaced by "wollen würdest".

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The correct translation of: "Hast du schon einmal so getan, als ob du schlafen würdest?" is: Have you ever pretended to be asleep. Or Have you ever acted as if you were/would be sleeping. (Were/would be because würdest is Konjunktiv)

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slept is subjunctive (Konjunktiv) too. See section subjunctive preterite : de.wiktionary.org/wiki/sleep_(Konjugation) – Vogel612 Jan 25 '14 at 16:41

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