Translation:He said to me that it would have rained.
What does this sentence mean? Are we to understand that there was some condition in another (hidden from us) part of the conversation?
the drop down hints suggest to me that -had- is an alternate translation to -would have- which would make this sentence - He said to me that it had rained - which even makes sense as a sentence. is there a reason this is not a valid translation?
If you translate "zou hebben geregend" with "had rained", you suppose the reader knows "had rained" is to be interpreted as a subjunctive pluperfect. As you indicated, that looks exactly the same as the indicative pluperfect, which has a different meaning. Therefore it is better to translate "zou hebben geregend" with the conditional perfect: "would have rained".
I'm sorry. I think you have confused me even more. I went and tried to understand about conditional, subjunctive and indicative pluperfect as it applies to Germanic languages and still do not understand your reply. I am getting the feeling that if a condition was applied to the sentence stating why it would have rained the concept may be clearer to understand. As it stands alone, the sentence does not seem to indicate a condition. i.e. why it would have rained. Hence my wanting to interpret as subjunctive.
Please explain indicative pluperfect I cannot find anything on it. Tks
A subjunctive is a form that has mostly disappeared in many languages. It is used to express for example an uncertainty or a desire. In English it is especially hard to find, because most forms look equal to their indicative counterparts.
See for example: http://www.verbix.com/webverbix/English/be.html
Some examples where you can recognise a subjunctive:
"God save the queen." (Indicative would be "God saves the queen.")
"God be with us." (Indicative would be "God is with us.")
"I wish I were on a sunny beach." (Indicative would be "I was on a sunny beach")
Nowadays both in English and in Dutch the use of a subjunctive is mostly replaced by a conditional construction: "Would (have) ..." / "Zou (hebben) ..."
So back to the sentence "Hij zei tegen me dat het zou hebben geregend.": The most common way to translate "zou hebben geregend" is "would have rained", so with the conditional construction both in Dutch and in English. If you use a subjunctive in English instead, it becomes "had rained", but since "had rained" is equal to the indicative mood, it is most likely interpreted as "had geregend" in Dutch, which obviously has a different meaning.
Thanks. I appreciate the clarity of your reply. Love the link too.
your first answer had me saying "what was that?!!?". Thank you very much for being patient and explaining it it more detail. I am much closer to understanding now. Have never given a Lingot before. Have now.