Grammatica tedesca avanzata: Il congiuntivo (Konjunktiv)

The subjunctive mood, known as “Konjunktiv” in German, is a crucial aspect of advanced German grammar. In this article, we will look into the different forms of the subjunctive mood, its usage, and provide examples to illustrate its application.


What is the Subjunctive Mood?

The subjunctive mood expresses hypothetical situations, wishes, desires, possibilities, or uncertainty. It is often used in reported speech, formal language, and polite requests. In German, there are two primary forms of the subjunctive mood: the Konjunktiv I and the Konjunktiv II.


Konjunktiv I

Konjunktiv I is mainly used in indirect speech, reported speech, and formal contexts. It is formed by changing the verb endings. Here are the basic rules for forming Konjunktiv I:

  1. For regular verbs, the Konjunktiv I is formed by adding specific endings to the stem of the infinitive.

    • Esempio:
      • Infinito: spielen (per giocare)
      • Konjunktiv I: ich spiele, du spielest, er/sie/es spiele, wir spielen, ihr spielt, sie spielen
  2. For irregular verbs, the Konjunktiv I forms are often derived from the third-person singular (er/sie/es) of the present tense.

    • Esempio:
      • Infinito: sein (essere)
      • Konjunktiv I: ich sei, du seist, er/sie/es sei, wir seien, ihr seiet, sie seien


Konjunktiv II

Konjunktiv II is used for hypothetical situations, unreal conditions, and polite requests. It is also used in reported speech when the reported statement is contrary to reality. Here are the basic rules for forming Konjunktiv II:

  1. For weak verbs, the Konjunktiv II is formed by adding specific endings to the stem of the infinitive.

    • Esempio:
      • Infinito: machen (to make/do)
      • Konjunktiv II: ich machte, du machtest, er/sie/es machte, wir machten, ihr machtet, sie machten
  2. For strong verbs, the Konjunktiv II forms are often derived from the preterite (simple past) tense.

    • Esempio:
      • Infinito: gehen (per andare)
      • Konjunktiv II: ich ginge, du gingest, er/sie/es ginge, wir gingen, ihr ginget, sie gingen


Usage of the Subjunctive Mood

The subjunctive mood is commonly used in various contexts:

  • Polite requests and suggestions.
  • Hypothetical or imaginary situations.
  • Expressing doubt, uncertainty, or disbelief.
  • Reporting what someone else said.
  • In certain fixed phrases and idiomatic expressions.


  1. Polite Request:

    • Können Sie mir bitte helfen? (Could you please help me?)
  2. Hypothetical Situation:

    • Wenn ich reich wäre, würde ich um die Welt reisen. (If I were rich, I would travel around the world.)
  3. Expressing Doubt:

    • Er behauptet, er habe das Buch gelesen. (He claims he has read the book.)
  4. Reporting Speech:

    • Er sagte, er sei krank. (He said he was sick.)
  5. Fixed Phrase:

    • Es lebe die Freundschaft! (Long live friendship!)