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In conversation with 2 native German speakers I said,

Ich dachte, dass Sie mir gerade erklärt haben, dass sie der Rundfunk verwandt haben.

and they corrected me to:

Ich dachte, Sie hätten mir gerade erklärt, dass sie den Rundfunk verwandt haben.

I would like to understand why the change. According to Hammer's German Grammar Konjunktiv II is used to express a remotely-possible condition -- "something which typically did not come about." But the sentence given is attempting to confirm a condition that is thought to have actually occurred.

Of note, this post does not answer why this usage appears to me to be outside of that proscribed by Hammer's Grammar, so is not a duplicate.

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  • Ohne mehr Kontext ist die Frage schwer zu beantworten, besonders, weil der letzte Teilsatz des ersten Zitats einen weiteren Fehler enthält. "Ich dachte, dass Sie mir gerade erklärt haben, dass Sie den Rundfunk verwandt haben." (Kontext: Für eine Werbekampagne? Oder war es "dass sie der Rundfunk verwandt hat." (sie, die Dialoge?) "Ich hätte den Rundfunk benutzt, wenn ich die nötigen Kontakte gehabt hätte." Ansonsten erscheint mir die erste Variante nicht nur richtig, sondern besser. Oct 16 at 10:02
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Konjunktiv II is often used instead of Konjunktiv I for reported speech (or in this case, reported thought). This happens in spoken German where Konjunktiv I is almost never used, but also in written German when Konjunktiv I would be indistinguishable from Indikativ. The latter is the case here, because both 3rd person plural Konjunktiv I and Indikativ of haben is haben.

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    As often in statements introduced with "dass", it is ambiguous whether this is an instancee of reported speech in the first place. Do you report what they said, or do you describe the fact that they were talking about? Thus, indicative would be possible, as well. Oct 16 at 5:41

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