Person 1: We would kill bears, if we were bored.

Person 2: What did person 1 say?

Person 3: Er sagte, dass wir …

I’m not sure how person 3 would respond. He’s using indirect speech to report something said in the subjunctive 2.

According to this page:

If the original quotation contained a [subjunctive II] form, it is retained:

Ich würde es tun, wenn ich könnte, aber ich bin jetzt zu krank.
I would do it if I could, but now I am too sick.

This becomes:

Er würde es tun, wenn er könnte, aber er sei jetzt zu krank.

So I keep any subjunctive 2 stuff, and everything else becomes subjunctive 1. Is that correct?

1 Answer 1


First, in speaking, most people use "würden" for subjunctive all the time. "Er sagte, wir würden Bären töten, wenn uns langweilig wäre."

If you say "Er sagte, wir töteten Bären, wenn uns langweilig wäre", the "töteten" sounds is the same form as for the past tense, and this may confuse readers (or listeners).

  • All the time except if they are Bavarian and use täte ;)
    – Jan
    Jun 5, 2016 at 15:54
  • 1
    Wo die Hasn Hosn hasn und die Hosn Husn hasn do bin i dahoam. Mir tätn Bärn tötn, wenn's uns fad wär. Jun 6, 2016 at 13:11

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