there is this line that I read in Spiegel article, and I was wondering about the translation of it.

Sie hätten sich statt mit den sportlichen Leistungen der Spieler mehr mit Gerüchten über diese beschäftigt.

The context of this is

He also criticised his fellow journalists for the coverage after the first two matches.

My translation would be

They concerned themselves, instead of with the sporting performances of the players, more with the rumours about them.

So first off is this right? Am I right to assume the use of 'hätte' is simply as the subjunctive rather than the conditional past tense?


  • I've googled that article and modified your context. Hope you agree.
    – user568
    Jun 23, 2016 at 14:20
  • Unclear because: What is your differentiation between conditional and subjunctive? Also off-topic because this is a translation checking question.
    – Jan
    Jun 24, 2016 at 21:29
  • I know the conditional is a type of subjunctive (sort of, I think) but I meant the subjunctive as in when it is used to report indirect speech as not necessarily true, as opposed to the conditional which would be translated as 'they would have concerned themselves...' Jun 26, 2016 at 4:07

1 Answer 1


In the context of that particular article, Sie hätten sich ... is simply indirect speech.

I think Konjunktiv I is standard for indirect speech. But this would be indistinguishable from Indikativ (both are haben). That's why Konjunktiv II (hätten) is used here.

If the above sentence was about a single journalist, this would not apply, since Konjunktiv I (habe) is different from Indikativ (hat). In such cases, using Konjunktiv II (hätte) instead of Konjunktiv I could express disagreement with what is said in the indirect speech. But not here.

  • Ok that's what I was thinking, thanks for the help :) Jun 23, 2016 at 15:14

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