Which verb form is used in the following sentence?
Sie müssten eine E-Mail erhalten haben.
Is it past tense? Does it mean that "Sie" got an e-mail or "Sie" will get it?
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Conditional II / Konjunktiv Präteritum
To find out the tense/Tempus of
"Sie müssten eine E-Mail erhalten haben",
by using an auxiliary verb / Hilfszeitwort (also "haben, sein, tun, sollen, können, dürfen ...etc) as a complex predicate / mehrteiliges Prädikat.
This is the simple rule to create the conditional II / Konjunktiv Präteritum with auxiliary verbs:
Complete complex predicate:
--> auxiliary verb in conditional II + proper (eigentliches) verb in present perfect tense
Examples "müssen" - "dürfen" - "sollen":
--> the conditional II is based on the past tense.
... now you need the proper (eigentliche) verb in the present perfect tense:
Examples: "erhalten haben" - "gewesen sein" - "gegessen haben"
So the completed complex predicates in the examples for conditional II are:
The meaning of conditional II: when you don't believe, that sth. has happened or you wish it hasn't happened ... sth. which is fantastic, unlikely, improbable, implausible ...
ad conditional I / Konjunktiv Präsens with auxiliary verbs
Complete complex predicate:
--> auxiliary verb in conditional I + proper (eigentliches) verb in present perfect tense
--> The conditional I is based on infinitive.
and as like as conditional II with past perfect tense.
The completed complex predicates in the examples for conditional II are:
The trouble with conditional I in German starts, if the substantive = plural, because then you need the Flexion/Suffix -en ...
NO difference to present tense, in case of plural. So we simply use in German in this misleading formulations conditional II.
But to create no misunderstanding, it's better to use an additional phrase: Examples:
The meaning of conditional I: you are not sure or you don't know, if (ob) sth. really happens or happened, but you decide to declare a neutral position. Mostly you'll find conditional I in newspapers, literature ... and of course in juristic text types (in juristischen Texten) etc., less while talking, in correspondence etc.
By the way: Usually native German speakers don't make a big difference between conditionals I and II - and a lot of people don't know this and they don't intend the meaning. So the most people use conditional II for both variations ... so don't be strictly ... but if anyone talks with you or writes some words in conditional I and II, then you maybe should read/listen a little more carefully (aufmerksamer).
It is a form of subjunctive clause.
It can be translated as:
You should have (already) gotten an eMail
You = Sie as a formal term of address in a letter.
If it was about a third person, it would be
Sie müsste eine E-Mail erhalten haben
Watch the missing "n" in "müsste". This would be translated as:
She should have (already) gotten an eMail