4. Würde Construction

This construction is a common way of expressing the subjunctive II mood. You will encounter it as predominant in spoken, informal, and contemporary German generally, and for those verbs whose subjunctive II form of the verb is indistinguishable from simple-past tense. Like the English “would” construction, it is based on the subjunctive II form of werden plus an infinitive, which makes it quite easy to read for English speakers:

Person Singular Plural
1st ich würde wir würden
2nd du würdest ihr würdet
3rd er/sie/es würde sie/Sie würden
Examples:

Wenn Sie fleißig lernten, so würden Sie das Examen bestehen.
If you studied hard, you would pass the exam.

Wenn ich mehr Zeit hätte, würde ich um die ganze Welt reisen.
If I had more time, I would travel around the whole world.

Wenn sie die Ruinen entdeckt hätten, würden sie ein Buch darüber geschrieben haben.
If they had discovered the ruins, they would have written a book about it.

The above examples could also have been expressed using subjunctive II forms of the main verbs. This is less likely, but in any case, the meanings would be identical:

Wenn Sie fleißig lernten, so bestünden [or:] beständen Sie das Examen.
If you studied hard, you would pass the exam.

Wenn ich mehr Zeit hätte, reiste ich um die ganze Welt.
If I had more time, I would travel around the whole world.

Wenn sie die Ruinen entdeckt hätten, hätten sie ein Buch darüber geschrieben.
If they had discovered the ruins, they would have written a book about it.

Last revised on February 6, 2017.