Konjunktiv II

Although, I had asked the query before related to würde and wäre but, I am not satisfied much with answer.

I tried to make more examples to understand but get confused more when used along with sein form. Apologies!

  1. Ich würde nicht von diesem Regen durchnässt sein.
  • I would not be drenched in this rain.

A slight change of would not be to would not have been has changed the example. Could this sentence still be meaninful, if the "sein" from first example and "gewesen" from second example is removed?

  1. Ich wäre nicht von diesem Regen durchnässt gewesen.
  • I would not have been drenched in this rain.

I thought "to be = sein" verb conjugation is applicable to becoming something. For exampele:

  1. Ich wäre kein Lehrer gewesen.
  • I would not have been/become teacher.
  • 3
    what makes it impossible to work on the last question to clarify where you struggle? As of today I do not see any comments that try to clarify your question/problem. Because a new question for the same problem seems inadequate - a new question on a new problem would fit. Dec 11, 2020 at 11:02

2 Answers 2


The problem with the examples is that a lot of different uses of the verbs "sein" and "werden/würde" are mixed up in them. So much that I'm unsure what to explain to really help you. My suspicion is that you're struggling with the different uses of "werden", and are mixing them up, so I will go through that, refering to your examples where they fit in, and hope that helps.

The verb "werden" has three totally different uses as helper verbs plus its normal use as a full verb (meaning "to become"), and it's important to know how to not mix them up.

  1. "Werden" as "to become":

Eine Raupe wird ein Schmetterling. (present tense: A caterpillar becomes a butterfly)

Ich bin Lehrer geworden. (perfect tense: I have become a teacher)

Wenn ich nicht Schauspieler geworden wäre, wäre ich Lehrer geworden. (Konjunktiv, past tense: I would have become a teacher.)

Ich würde Lehrer (Konjunktiv II: I would become a teacher)

Ich würde Lehrer werden (Konjunktiv II in its "würde"-Form: I would become a teacher.) Note that "werden" is the main verb here and "würde" is just the Konjunktiv II helper verb, which incidentally is also a form of "werden".

  1. "Werden" as the modal verb for passive voice. This is different from English. In english, "to be" is used for passive voice. This use of werden always goes with a participle:

Ich werde gesehen (present tense, "I am seen")

Ich wurde gesehen (past tense, "I was seen")

Ich würde gesehen (Konjunktiv II, "I would be seen")

Ich würde gesehen werden (Konjunktiv II in würde-Form, "I would be seen")

Don't confuse this with "sein" + participle:

Ich bin durchnässt.
Ich war durchnässt.
Ich wäre durchnässt,
Ich würde durchnässt sein.

In these cases, the participle is used as an adjective. Not an action but a state of things. "Ich bin vom Regen durchnässt" is different from "Ich werde vom Regen durchnässt." The first is a state - it's what you say when you stand in you friend's apartment asking to borrow some clothes. The second is an ongoing action - that's what you say while you're in the rain and the rain is now, at this point, drenching you.

Back to the uses of werden:

  1. "Werden" as the modal verb for future tense. You can distinguish that from passive voice in that future tense is werden + infinitive, while passive voice is werden + participle.

Nach dem Abitur werde ich zur Universität gehen. (I will go to university)

Mit 30 werde ich Lehrer sein. (I will be a teacher)

In Konjunktiv II, this is indiscernible from the "würde"-Form of Konjunktiv II. In this example, only the "mit 30" gives away that this is future tense (if the person is not yet 30):

Mit 30 würde ich Lehrer sein, wenn ich mich jetzt mehr anstrengen würde.

  1. "würde" + infinitive, the "easy" variant of Konjunktiv II. "Würde" itself is Konjunktiv of "werde".

Ich würde jetzt nicht vom Regen durchnässt sein, wenn ich einen Regenschirm gehabt hätte. (I would not be wet right now from the rain if I had had an umbrella.)

has exactly the same meaning as the other form of Konjunktiv II of sein:

Ich wäre jetzt nicht vom Regen durchnässt, wenn ich einen Regenschirm gehabt hätte.

Note that the main verb is "sein" in both cases, and "durchnässt" is again used as an adjective, a description of a state. If you wanted to use "durchnässt" as the main verb, you would use passive voice and "werden" instead of "sein":

Ich würde jetzt nicht vom Regen durchnässt, wenn ich einen Regenschirm hätte. (The rain would not be drenching me right now if I had an umbrella.)

or, with the würde-Form of Konjunktiv II:

Ich würde jetzt nicht vom Regen durchnässt werden, wenn ich einen Regenschirm hätte. (same meaning)

So the difference between your first and second example is that the first uses the "würde" flavor of Konjunktiv II, and the second one can't do that because that flavor cannot be put in past tense.

For your second example, also note that this is another point in time again. Your second example is what you would say when you're not soaked any more, sitting on your friend's sofa in her dry clothes that she gave you.

"Durchnässt sein" and "durchnässt werden" are different things here, as are "Lehrer sein" and "Lehrer werden". You generally cannot just use "sein" (to be) meaning "werden" (to become). "To be something" does often imply that you "have become something" before, and if both are in the past, well, then you are able to use "have been"/"gewesen sein" to mean "have become"/"geworden sein", but definitely not in all cases.


Perhaps the best way to answer this question is to just focus on your examples and why they feel so wrong to me as a native German speaker.

  1. "Ich würde nicht von diesem Regen durchnässt sein."

This is very odd.

You can actually use "durchnässt" without the "sein".

"Ich wurde von diesem Regen durchnässt."

"Ich bin von diesem Regen durchnässt worden."

I cannot come up with a reason I would want to say your sentence.

Would I ever use "würde" as an auxiliary verb with "sein"?

Let's look at what you think it means in English:

"I would not be drenched in this rain."

A slight change of would not be to would not have been has changed the example. Could this sentence still be meaningful, if the "sein" from first example and "gewesen" from second example is removed?

I certainly would feel much less startled about

"Ich würde von diesem Regen durchnässt."

Would need to combine this with something. Such as

"Ich fürchtete dass ich von diesem Regen durchnässt würde."

  1. "Ich wäre nicht von diesem Regen durchnässt gewesen."

That too sounds weird. So let me try to go from "ich wäre" to "ich war" just like above I changed from "ich würde" to "ich wurde". And I think there is your answer emerging from the fog! But let's first play it through here:

"Ich war nicht von diesem Regen durchnässt."

Why do you even use the negative here? Doesn't that rather serve to confuse? Shouldn't you, if you want to contrast two words in their function cut out all the clutter and look at it in their simplest example possible?

Your translation also seems to be missing something: "I would not have been drenched in this rain." You mean to add some "If" clause in front? Like "If I had only left an hour earlier, I would not have been drenched in this rain." -- "Wenn ich nur eine Stunde früher gegange wäre, wäre ich nicht von diesem Regen durchnässt geworden."

Now I come closer to your example. But I need to use "geworden" not "gewesen", because it happened to me, it is not my essence.

  • "sein" vs. "werden"
  • "gewesen" vs. "geworden"

I thought "to be = sein" verb conjugation is applicable to becoming something. For example:

"Ich wäre kein Lehrer gewesen."

No! This doesn't sound right again! And I don't know what you intend to say.

"Ich wäre kein Lehrer geworden."

You cannot logically put into question your being a teacher, but your becoming a teacher.

"I would not have been/become teacher."

See, in English to, "I would not have been a teacher" doesn't seem logical, you'd have to say "become". That becoming is what happened in the past not your being.

I am sure if you

  • simplify your examples
  • cut out all words that are not relevant
  • but complete your example so it's a full sentence, not just a clause
  • pay attention to the logic

then you might not only figure this out yourself, but also you will get better answers.

Now, I find that the confusion -- not just yours, but mine too -- is the word family tree of to be and to become and then the subjunctification of it.

  • sein vs. werden
  • ich bin vs. ich werde
  • ich war vs. ich wurde
  • ich wäre vs. ich würde

werden is really not just a future form of sein. In German we don't even have future form!

All future is formed with "werden". Compare with Latin languages where you have a real future (such as in Spanish "comprar" - "yo compro" - "yo compraré") and then a future formed with the auxiliary verb "to go" ("yo voy (a) comprar"), like in English "I'm going to buy" vs. "I will buy". German and English also has no future form of a verb. And "werden" is not a future form of "sein". It is rather a "continuous" form of sein, as in progressively becoming. And in English "to become" is not a future of "to be". In German it gets murky because "werden" seems so directly related to "sein" because of "sein's" simple past "war".

Now I give you some real German that you can hear people say all the time to contrast:

"Ich wäre mir da nicht so sicher." - from "Ich bin mir sicher" - the reason I need the negation and the "da" is because you hear this in the negative, and "da" is pointing at the situation in which I imagining myself would I not be so sure.

"Ich würde das so sagen." - from "Ich sage das so" - "Ich werde das so sagen."

So, "wäre" you can only use in adjective assignments or in passive voice verb constructs.

But "würde" you use in active verb constructs.

This is how I explain this phenomenon to me.

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