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I've been learning about K2 and I'm confused about the difference between "hätten" und "wären". They seem to have the same meaning.

Z.B.

Wir wären gern im Zoo.
Wir hätten gern im Zoo.

and

Du hättest gern weniger Stress gehabt.
Du wärst gern weniger Stress gehabt.

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  • 5
    It is probably helpful to explain your confusion with some examples.
    – tofro
    Jun 11, 2021 at 11:28
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    They are, respectively, Konjunktiv 2 conjugations of »haben« (to have) and »sein« (to be). What makes you think those words have the same meaning? From your examples only the very first one »Wir wären gern im Zoo.« is a correct sentence. Jun 11, 2021 at 12:07
  • because in english both are past tense.
    – Gustyani
    Jun 11, 2021 at 12:22
  • Your examples are seriously flawed: Just the first is example is a correct sentence. Without adjustment this question is likely to be closed for being unclear.
    – guidot
    Jun 11, 2021 at 14:20
  • @Gustyani: please include your reason for "have the same meaning" into your question. "past tense" seems to broad for me, because I remember several pasts my teacher tried to teach me back then. Jun 14, 2021 at 7:59

2 Answers 2

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In short:

  • "hätten" = Konjunktiv von "haben" = "to have" in english

  • "wären" = Konjunktiv von "sein" = "to be" in english

To your examples:

  • "Wir wären gern im Zoo" translates to "We would like to be in the zoo"

  • "Wir hätten gern im Zoo" is not a complete german sentence, similar to ""We would like to have in the zoo" not being a complete english sentence.

So I guess the difference in meaning is better understood by not focussing on the Konjunktiv - the difference is already there in the infinitive.

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There is no difference. Using "sein" vs. "haben" with certain verbs is pure inflection; there is no more meaning behind this alternation than between the alternation of gender, e.g. "masculine" for "Tisch" vs. "feminine" for "Tür".

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  • You should probably clarify that you're only refering to the difference between "haben" and "sein" as the modal verb for Konjunktiv 2 perfect tense. Which might be the heart of the question, but there's so much more that would have to be explained, especially since the incorrect examples show some wider lack of understanding.
    – HalvarF
    Jun 12, 2021 at 18:57
  • @HalvarF It's not our aim to explain that some sentence is incorrect. That would be proof-reading.
    – c.p.
    Jun 13, 2021 at 6:38
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    @c.p.: Answering this question with "There is no difference" is just plain wrong, especially when the OP doesn't seem to understand that they can only use either sein or haben with a given verb. These sentences are obiously examples, discussing them has nothing to do with proofreading imo.
    – HalvarF
    Jun 13, 2021 at 8:19
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    @c.p. But the other answer is pretty good, while giving an explanation why one of the sentences is incorrect. I don't see how language learners can ask questions at all if a wrong example automatically disqualified their questions. OP does not seem to have been aware that one of their sentences is incorrect, therefore there is certainly no request for proofreading involved.
    – David Vogt
    Jun 13, 2021 at 9:42
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    Opinions and ambiguous meditations aside, this doesn't answer the question and to say that there's no difference between "to be in the zoo" and "to have in the zoo" is incorrect and motivates my downvote. Unfortunately downvoting damages the downvoter, but I can't understand how this unreflected stuff can be upvoted. This is a very concrete case that has a concrete answer.
    – user41853
    Jun 13, 2021 at 12:34

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