If I want to say, I told you I was proud of you, what do I say?

Ich sagte dir, dass ich auf dich stolz sei.

Ich sagte dir, dass ich auf dich stolz wäre.

  • Indirect speech -> Konjunktiv 1 -> "ich sei". What is your question about, do you know about Konjunktiv? Do you know what to do in indirect speech? Are you unsure if you have to take present tense or preterit? – Em1 Jul 28 '13 at 15:01
  • @Em1 What is my question about? I don't know if I can get any more concise than that. I just want to know which of the versions in my question is correct. Is that so hard to give an answer to? And yes, theoretically I know everything about grammar. That's why I almost always ask this way: If I want to say... Because I'm trying to check if theory does indeed follow in the steps of practice. So what is so hard about that? This is my own method of really mastering grammatical theory. – indoxica Jul 28 '13 at 15:18
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    Use "..., dass ich stolz auf dich bin."! everything else is wrong or means something different – Emanuel Jul 28 '13 at 18:50
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    @Emanuel: Aber im Original ist es doch "I was", wieso übersetzt man es nicht "dass ich stolz auf Dich war"? Der Stolz könnte bereits Geschichte sein. Und wie würde der Brite sagen, dass er stolz war, aber nicht mehr ist? – user unknown Jul 29 '13 at 12:48
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    Indirekte Rede in Deutsch, soweit sie nicht im Konjunktiv steht ist wie eine direkte Rede mit anderer Satzstellung. Das gilt auch für Sachen wie "Ich dachte, ..." oder "Ich wusste nicht,..." Der erste Teil des Satzes transportiert uns sozusagen in die Vergangenheit, der zweite Teil ist dann "live". Wenn man zum Beispiel sagt... "Ich wusste, wo du bist." dann meint man, dass man im Moment des Denkens weiß wo jemand ist. Sagt man "Ich wusste, wo du warst" dann wusste man im Moment des Denkens wo jemand VORHER gewesen ist... bevor man das denkt. Deutsch ist ein bisschen eigen was das angeht – Emanuel Jul 29 '13 at 16:52

The German appropriation is neither wäre nor sei as you suggested, but simply

Ich hab dir gesagt, dass ich stolz auf dich bin.

Indirect speech works with a different mechanism in English (Please, read about backshift of tenses to understand how it works in English). Ich bin, which is "I am" (Simple Present) in English, turns to "I was" (Simple Past) in indirect speech, because of that mentioned English grammar rule. That is why you get I was proud of you but it's originated from ... dass ich stolz auf dich bin. German has no backshift of tenses here, so it remains bin in this language, and it does not turn to sei, wäre, war or similar words.

We also use German Indikativ ich bin here since be are sure it is as it is, we know we were proud since we have lived it. Konjunktiv is used if the fact is not sure or true, which may be the case if we speak about another person and we were not there when it happened; then we would rather use er sagte, er sei. More details about Indikativ and Konjunktiv can be found here. Sei puts uncertainty in the sentence and indicates it may be not true, but it's actually only used in written German, and you must not use it. For example I told you I was proud of you, but that was a lie can be expressed in German either a bit stilted/antiquated Ich habe dir gesagt, ich sei stolz auf dich, aber das war gelogen or also (preferred) Ich habe dir gesagt, ich bin stolz auf dich, aber das war gelogen.

Ich sagte, ... ich ... wäre would need an additional condition with wenn, for instance Ich sagte, dass ich stolz auf dich wäre, wenn du dich mehr anstrengen würdest.. In this case you tell a conditional in indirect speech.

  • @falkb I don't need to read about "backshift of tenses" In English. That was not what I asked. That's not even what this site is for. We're not on this site dedicated to the German language to ask questions about English. – indoxica Jul 29 '13 at 9:19
  • @falkb: in German it doesn't turn to anything in fact... the second part stays in present. You really should remove the link since it has nothing to do with the question – Emanuel Jul 29 '13 at 11:29
  • I think your basic idea for including it was fine but maybe you should elaborate a bit and point out the different mechanics between English and German in that regard... or at least say that the links tells us how it DOESN'T work in German ;) – Emanuel Jul 29 '13 at 12:03
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    For non-colloquial German, bin is always wrong here, since indirect speech (or similar) is always in one of the subjunctive (Konjunktiv) moods. The default case is subjunctive I (here: sei). The subjunctive II (here: wäre) is used to indicate that the statement is not true (or if the subjunctive I is identical to the indicative, which is however not the case here). – Wrzlprmft Mar 11 '14 at 14:15

If you are looking for what a native speaker would say in an everyday conversation, use:

Ich habe dir gesagt, dass ich stolz auf dich bin.

It may not be absolutely correct, gramatically, but everything else would sound too formal, use it only in written language!

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    I merely wanted to know which of those two sentences is correct in German. If none is, you should have said so. If only one is, you should have told me which one is. But I don't need to hear that "It may not be absolutely correct"; this is an amateur way of dealing with grammar. Any grammar. And I certainly didn't want to hear that "everything else would sound too formal, use it only in written language!". I may know nothing about German, which is almost entirely true, but your way of answering questions about it is completely unsatisfactory. – indoxica Jul 29 '13 at 9:25
  • marsze, your sentence is grammatically fine but not more or less formal than "Ich sagte, ich sei stolz auf dich" and "Ich sagte, dass ich auf dich stolz sei". - The second sentence of OP (@indoxica), however, is wrong. – Em1 Jul 29 '13 at 10:40
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    @indoxica If you "merely wanted to know" which was correct, or which rules apply, you should have said so in your original question, not a vague "what do I say..." – marsze Jul 29 '13 at 11:12
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    Questions on "what do I say" can not always be answered with a grammatically correct version. In this case the answer above is correct, as it is probably the most common variant in spoken German. This is not so in a written text, where grammar rules for indirect speech are different but this was not asked here. We should treat people who contribute here with respect. In case we feel our question is not answered - use your votes, but please don't accuse people of not having understood the question properly. It may then also be that the question needs an edit. – Takkat Jul 29 '13 at 13:11

In non-colloquial speech the variant with sei is almost certainly what you want to use. The default mood for reported speech is the subjunctive I (here: sei) and using it does not indicate any uncertainty about the correctness of the reported information – and thus it does not make any difference that you are reporting your own speech (see also this question).

Using the subjunctive II (here: wäre) would state that you do not consider true whatever is reported. So, in your example you would only use this, if you lied about being proud.

Note that the subjunctive II can be also used instead of the subjunctive I, if the latter is identical to an indicative form (which is not the case here). The subjunctive II in turn can also be replaced by a würde construct, if it is identical to a past indicative form.

In colloquial speech it is most common that no subjunctive at all is used (i.e., bin instead of sei or wäre).


Ich sagte dir, dass ich auf dich stolz sei.

no, you don't speak about yourself in the disjunctive

Ich sagte dir, dass ich auf dich stolz wäre.

no, same, --> In the past you said: ich bin auf dich stolz. So in order to reflect that the correct expression is:

Ich sagte dir (doch), das ich auf dich stolz bin. (Warum hörst du mir denn nicht zu?) Warum hast du mir denn nicht zugehört?

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