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A: Remember when we had dinner together at that restaurant?

B: That must have been a year ago!

To translate:

A: Erinnerst du dich, als wir zusammen Abendessen in diesem Restaurant hatten?

B: Das muss vor einem Jahr gewesen sein/wären.

I'm wondering in particular what is the correct translation of "must have been" here. Should I use "muss... gewesen sein" or "muss... gewesen wären"?

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Alternative: "Das muss ja schon (über/mindestens) ein Jahr her sein!" or, more generally applicable, "Das ist ja (ewig her/bald nicht mehr wahr!)" – Raphael Jun 6 '14 at 6:56
@raphael addition: those are applicable if the essence of the statement is to stress that it's been long already. However, none of ja schon (über/mindestens) is to be found in the OP's example. – user5513 Jun 7 '14 at 14:10
up vote 8 down vote accepted

The construction is müssen + infinitive. "Gewesen sein" is the past infinitive of "sein" (participle "gewesen" + infinitive "sein").

"Wären" is not an infinitive, you can only use "gewesen wären" in a context where the verb comes last (subclause) and is conjugated (e.g., "Wenn sie dort gewesen wären, ...").

So only "sein" is correct.

Erinnerst du dich noch daran, wie wir abends in diesem Restaurant zusammen gegessen haben

for example is more natural than your literal translation of "to have dinner". "Abendessen" has the connotations of a (cold) German evening meal (bread, sausage, etc.), while "dinner" in a restaurant means a warm meal with several courses.

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Das muss wohl ein Jahr her sein

translated back leads to

"This may have been a year ago"

..But it catches the meaning of what you try to say. Although you use "must" you are not really 100% sure, right?

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I don't think there is a difference in meaning between the English and German versions in the OP. Both express the same vague reference to how long ago this was. – Hulk Jun 6 '14 at 7:41

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