I want to know, how one says this sentence in german:

He told me, I would be paid.

  • Er sagte, ich werde bezahlt.

  • Er sagte, ich würde bezahlt.

  • Welcome to German.SE. As far as my english understanding is - what intention do you have: that you will get paid or that there is a likelihood because "he" does not know it for sure just someone told him so? (and please include the intention into the question) – Shegit Brahm Mar 25 '20 at 16:12

Both ways are correct.

"Er sagte, ich werde bezahlt." is Indikativ but also Konjunktiv I. "Er sagte, ich würde bezahlt." is Konjunktiv II. (see Table of Conjugation)

The difference is very well explained by these sites:

  • German konjunktiv I: Tenses & Examples
    "If you want to talk about something another person said, you may use one of the two special moods in German - the Konjunktiv I (Subjunctive I).
    This is not a very common form, since it's primarily used for indirect speech. It's rarely used in spoken language, but you will find it in newspapers and articles. Let's learn how to build the Konjunktiv I in the present, past and future tense."
  • German konjunktiv II: Tenses & Examples
    "The Konjunktiv II is a verb form that you will mostly find in indirect speech. You use it when using Konjunktiv I is ambiguous, meaning the verb would be the same as another form of the verb. ..."

In this case "Er sagte, ich würde bezahlt." is the correct Konjunktiv, because Konjunktiv I is ambiguous (Konjunktiv I same as present for the word "werden").

As a native speaker I would go with the first sentence. I would use the second one only in very formal situations. It sounds a little bit spiteful to use the Konjunktiv in everyday life (especially the second one). It can trigger a tense situation.

Depending on the context and how you emphasize "würde", the sentence "Er sagte, ich würde bezahlt." can be interpreted to mean that you (or he) have already expected that the payment should already have been made, or even you (or he) don't trust that you get payed, etc.

Translation of terms: Indikativ ~ indicative; Konjunktiv I ~ subjunctive; Konjunktiv II ~ conditional

  • Please consider including your term translations into the answer, comments are a bad place for useful parts. – Shegit Brahm Mar 26 '20 at 7:08
  • @ShegitBrahm Done. – Niklas E. Mar 26 '20 at 10:32

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