This is the answer given to a question in my Grammatiktrainer:

Hätte ich keinen Unfall gehabt, hätte ich in Urlaub fahren können.

My question is this: Why isn't "wäre" used in the second clause seeing as "fahren" uses "sein" as the auxiliary when forming the Perfekt?

1 Answer 1


Because hätte does not refer to fahren but to können. In the second clause (which is actually the main clause), können is an Ersatzinfintiv which plays the role of a perfect participle.

So without können it's

Ich wäre gefahren.

but with können it's

Ich hätte fahren können.

  • 1
    Note that hätte … können is the main clause, not the subordinate clause.
    – David Vogt
    Dec 19, 2020 at 21:25
  • That's right, I corrected my answer.
    – RHa
    Dec 19, 2020 at 21:35

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