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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 wären 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. Jul 31, 2011 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. Jul 31, 2011 at 14:21

2 Answers 2

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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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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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