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Yesterday, I watched a episode of Tatort. I didn't understand the structure of following sentence.

Gibts einen Hinweis, wonach der Täter gesucht haben könnte.

I checked konjunktiv 2 Vergangenheit sentence structure. They have wären / hätten + Partizip II. Please explain the grammatic structure of the given sentence.

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I assume your question is about the verbal structure in

...wonach der Täter gesucht haben könnte.

First, lets rewrite this as a Hauptsatz:

Danach könnte der Täter gesucht haben.

From this we see that the predicate is just könnte: Konjunktiv II in Präteritum. The rest, gesucht haben, is only an argument of that predicate. And it is the perfekt infinitive of suchen. Just like the English construction

The suspect [could] [have searched] for it.

where "to have searched" fulfills the same role.

A minor point, and likely the source of confusion, is that wonach starts a relative sentence, which requires the verb-last order. The Hauptsatz-form with danach should make this clearer.

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  • Thanks. I understand the last-verb rule with wonach. I was confused with haben gesucht. I thought könnte gesucht haben is predicate in the sentence. Is it also correct to make it in following way. Danach hätte der Täter gesucht. Oct 18 at 9:06
  • That would be grammatical, but different: now it's suchen in Konjunktiv II Perfekt. You'd use it for reported speech, or potentiality ("he would have searched"). Oct 18 at 9:26

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