Could anyone explain them for me?
Why does every verb has those three different conjugations?

  • 1
    What is your native language? Commented Mar 24, 2018 at 16:48

2 Answers 2

  • Indikativ
    You use this mode when you want to tell facts. You say what really is.

    Wir unternehmen einen Ausflug.
    We make a trip.

    This means: We really do it. This is no phantasy. It is fact. And it is not a quote of someone else. We say it.

  • Konjunktiv I
    When you repeat something that you have heard, you can use direct or indirect speech. Direct speech means quoting exactly what was said:

    Kurt hat mir am Telefon gesagt: »Wir unternehmen einen Ausflug.«
    Kurt said to me on the phone: "We make a trip."

    In indirect speech you need Konjunktiv I:

    Kurt hat mir am Telefon gesagt, er unternehme einen Ausflug.

    You can transform this in a sub-clause beginning with "dass" with Indikative instead of Konjunktiv I, without changing the meaning:

    Kurt hat mir am Telefon gesagt, dass er einen Ausflug unternimmt.
    Kurt told me on the phone that he makes a trip.

  • Konjuktiv II
    You use this to describe irreal phantasies:

    Ach, wäre es nicht schön, wenn wir einen Ausflug unternähmen?
    Oh, wouldn't it be nice to make a trip?

    You are not making a trip, nor are you really planning to make some. You are just dreaming of something that probably never will happen.

There is another mode beside Indikativ and Konjunktiv:

  • Imperativ
    You use this mode for commands:

    Unternimm einen Ausflug!
    Make a trip!

You can use this modes in even more situations. But I understood your question in that way, that you have no idea what they are good for. I hope, now you know. Your grammar book will tell you much more usages.

  • Thank you so much that has aboslutely made it easier for me do you recommend a specific grammar book? Commented Mar 24, 2018 at 22:28
  • There is a follow-up question on one of the examples.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Jan 12, 2019 at 9:35
  • 2
    I strongly object to the proposition that a dass-clause in Indikativ is equivalent to Konjunktiv I in a main clause. If you say "Er sagte am Telefon, dass er einen Ausflug unternimmt", you present it as a matter of fact that he's actually going on the trip – like if you know it for sure. If you say "Er sagte am Telefon, dass er einen Ausflug unternehme", you leave it open whether the trip is undertaken, you just give an account of his statement. Commented Apr 22, 2020 at 23:02

There are three basic conjugations, these are Präsens Indikativ, Präsens Konjunktiv I and Präteritum. Konjunktiv II uses the same forms as Präteritum, apart from auxiliaries, modal verbs and some few irregular verbs. All other mood (apart from the imperative) and time forms are built with auxiliaries.

The conjugation of unternehmen is the same as for nehmen:

Präsens Indikativ: ich nehme, du nimmst, er/sie/es nimmt, wir/sie nehmen, ihr nehmt

Präsens Konjunktiv I: ich nähme, du nähmst, er/sie/es nähme, wir/sie nähmen, ihr nähmt

Präteritum: ich nahm, du nahmst, er/sie/es nahm, wir/sie nahmen, ihr nahmt

As you can see, nehmen is a strong verb, which means its conjugation follows the Ablaut pattern. The other common pattern is the -te- of the weak verbs, e.g. kaufen:

Präsens Indikativ: ich kaufte, du kaufst, er/sie/es kauft, wir/sie kaufen, ihr kauft

Präsens Konjunktiv I: ich kaufe, du kauftest, er/sie/es kaufe, wir/sie kauften, ihr kauftet

Präteritum: ich kaufte, du kauftest, er/sie/es kaufte, wir/sie kauften, ihr kauftet

Of course there are irregular verbs, but the most verbs fall into one of those two groups, so you only have to learn those two patterns each with 15 forms apart from the few irregulars.

  • Thank you for your help,i now understood the differences between them :) Commented Mar 24, 2018 at 22:28

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