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I want to say

I almost made the mistake.

Is it correct to say

Ich habe den Fehler fast gemacht.

? I'm not sure about the adverb "fast" here, since it is modifying the verb "gemacht" (as opposed to an adjective.)

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2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Fast is fine. Because the mistake wasn't really made, you would use subjunctive II:

Ich hätte den Fehler fast gemacht.

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I'm totally confused on the use of subjunctive II here. Normally it would be used for something that didn't happen. But here, "I almost made the mistake" was what happened. Why subjunctive II? –  Mika H. Oct 3 '13 at 15:18
    
German has a tendency to stress that something didn't actually occur. Here is a similar case: Es hätte zerbrechen können. Many other languages would say the possibility was real after all; but German is different. –  chirlu Oct 3 '13 at 16:39
    
I would like to ask a follow-up question, but perhaps it goes beyond the scope of this thread. I marked your answer as correct and posted the follow-up question here instead. Thanks! –  Mika H. Oct 4 '13 at 1:17

A synonymous alternative to fast is using beinahe here:

Ich hätte beinahe den Fehler gemacht, einen Kommentar zu schreiben, anstatt zu antworten.

Note that if you use the definitve article here, we do expect a further precision of the nature of the mistake in a following subordinate clause. In case the sentence stands alone it is better to use an indefinite article:

Ich hätte beinahe/fast einen Fehler gemacht.

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