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I saw a poster with this text:

So wären es Träume nur gewesen?

The subject seems to be "es", not "Träume". Why is the Konjunktiv plural? I'd write:

So wäre es Träume nur gewesen?

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It's from "Don Carlos" it's ancient German. The Konjunktiv is nowadays used in indirect speech to disassociate from a message. To Topic: You have to know the context - always in German, the context is important, in Don Carlos:Carlos: "Du sprichst von **Zeiten**, die vergangen sind. **Auch mir hat einst von einem Carl geträumt[...] – O, der Einfall War kindisch, aber göttlich schön!** Vorbei Sind **diese Träume**." – Marquis:"Träume, Prinz? – So wären **Es** Träume nur gewesen?" es for Zeiten & former ideals and actions of Carlos. –  infinitesimalLeanne Jul 31 '11 at 14:18
    
so "sie" for plural of "es" is not applicable. Sorry the first source was in ancient font. I've read it again and realized my first answer was wrong. –  infinitesimalLeanne Jul 31 '11 at 14:21

2 Answers 2

The "real" subject in this sentence is "die Träume". The pronoun "es" is just a "dummy" word. It's easier to understand if you simplify the sentence and change the word order:

Die Träume sind es.

This structure is called "Prädikatsnominativ", "Gleichsetzungsnominativ" or "Nominativobjekt" in German grammar. You can only use it with following verbs:

  • sein
  • werden
  • heißen
  • scheinen (zu sein)
  • bleiben
  • gelten (als)
  • (sich) fühlen (als)
  • (sich) dünken (als)
  • (sich) erweisen (als)
  • (sich) entpuppen (als)
  • sich glauben (als)
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Finally I can answer again:

So wären es Träume nur gewesen?

It is a quotation from Schillers "Don Carlos" in ancient German (follow the link for the passage).

The "Konjunktiv" is nowadays used in indirect speech to disassociate from a message (like the anchorman from the news).

To Topic: You have to know the context -- always in German, the context is important. The passage from Schillers Don Carlos:

Carlos: "Du sprichst von Zeiten, die vergangen sind. Auch mir hat einst von einem Carl geträumt [...] – O, der Einfall War kindisch, aber göttlich schön! Vorbei Sind diese Träume." –

Marquis:"Träume, Prinz? – So wären Es Träume nur gewesen?"

Es for Zeiten & former ideals and actions of Carlos.


From Schiller's sämmtliche Werke in Einem Bande, Cotta 1834, p 249. the passage in an ancient font:

copy

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