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"Sie sagten, sie hätten dieses Auto nicht geprüft."

Translation:They said that they did not test this car.

January 7, 2014



Duolingo is giving two translations here: "They said they would not have tested this car" and "They said they did not test this car." I THINK only the first is correct, but the subjunctive still rattles me. Which is correct?


Actually it's the second one. "Hätten" is used because the speaker cannot say for certain if they really didn't test the car.


But isn't that the case with either translation?


The first is correct because it's a literal one-to-one pairing of subjunctives. The second is correct because another use of the German subjunctive is to paraphrase someone, but dissociate yourself from the statement. Like if you want to say "hey man, they said it, not me, and I don't know if they were lying or not."

English lacks the subjunctive in that case, but in German you can use subjunctive or a indicative. The indicative is you just paraphrasing. The subjunctive is you paraphrasing AND distancing yourself from the statement in case it's not true.


Thank you. So, if I understand you correctly, the first is straight-up subjunctive. The second is subjunctive because it's indirect speech?


In 'grammatically correct' formal English it should be "They said (that) they had not/hadn't tested the car" (ie using the 'past perfect' for the 'indirect' or 'reported' speech)


THIS COMMENT IS ONLY SUPERFICIAL AND IT HAS NO INTENTION TO BE 100 % ACCURATE . In proto indo european language when you want to paraphrase someone or when you want to express wish ,desire , imagination of something than you use the verb in aorist(past simple tense ) but with some modifications to the root of the verb . That is why in all modern indo european languages the konjuktive(subjunctive ) is very similar to the past simple tense or in some languages the subjunctive is made by simply changing the tense of the verb from present tense to past tense.


I like the subtle dual mindedness of thus German subjunctive.


in other languages subjunctive is distinguished from conditional


5 years later, still not fixed. Because this is in the conditional lesson, only your first answer should be right. I got it wrong because of DL mistake.


but why? because of this question i learned from the comments that that form is used for reported speech. I found it really useful. Again, lessons arent there to just get them right. They are there to learn as much as possible


No, all valid translations should be marked as correct.

Do you think it would be right for a German speaker to be marked wrong for translating "the match" to "das Streichholz", just because it was in the sports lesson?

This use of subjunctive can be conditional, but it can equally just be indirect/reported speech.


Shouldn't this sentence read "Sie sagten, sie hatten dieses Auto nicht geprüft." ?? Hätten is KII, no?


You are right, hätten is Konjunktiv II; but when using Konjunktiv I, if the subjunctive form of the verb is not distinguishable from the indicative form, then the Konjunktiv II form of the verb is used instead. So - the KI form of sie haben would still be sie haben - because it is the same, the KII form sie hätten is used instead.

The same is true for the first person forms - ich hätte and wir hätten - KII is used because they wouldn't otherwise be different; the other forms would still be du habest, er habe and ihr habet. Which forms differ does vary from verb to verb though, it's not always ich, wir and Sie/sie.


You have to be a language professor to understand this stuff.


Well it's good we have such good teachers around ... for sure


this helped me so much. until today I would have used "sie haben" in the same situations as "er/sie/es habe"


Subjunctive II (Konjunktiv II) is correct here as it expresses the uncertainty of indirect speech (they say they did so, but the speaker does not know for sure).


If the German sentence is not to express indirect speech, but a factual statement, then it would have to be: "Sie sagten, daß sie dieses Auto nicht geprüft hatten."


@quis_lib_duo Just out of curiosity, is it possible at all to report indirect speech in German and NOT disassociate oneself from the contents? In other words is your example correct in the strictest sense of the grammar?


Thanks @quis_lib_duo @gewisse, I will need to do some reading into KI, I'm very unfamiliar with this area of grammar.


OK, I've read all the comments, but I'm still not clear on which of these two English sentences the above can mean . . . They said they did not test this car. They said they would not have tested this car.

Or can it mean either . . . and one might have to phrase it differently to be clearer?


Yes, it can mean either of those -- the German past subjunctive is also used for the conditional mood.

So this could be either "They said they had not tested this car" (hätten simply as subjunctive, used to indicate reported speech) or "They said they would not have tested this car" (hätten as conditional).

You could unambiguously indicate conditional mood by using the conditional mood of werden: Sie sagten, sie würden dieses Auto nicht geprüft haben (They said they would not have tested this car).

(But with haben, this alternative with würde is not as common as with most verbs.)

I don't think there's an unambiguous way to force the subjunctive meaning.

You could say, Sie sagten, sie hatten dieses Auto nicht geprüft (using the indicative mood), which can't possibly be a conditional, but by not using the subjunctive you're basically claiming that they had not checked the car, rather than just repeating their words without making their claim your own.


Is giving a quote a way to force the unambiguous meaning: They said, We would not have tested the car.”


So, the result of using the subjunctive here would have been completely different had the sentence been followed by an "if" clause. In that case it would not have implied doubt but mere condition. Please correct me if I am wrong.


'en' versus 't' verb endings. How can one know which to use?


You mean in the past participle, as with geprüft versus, say, gesehen?

Basically, you have to learn it for each verb, just as people learning English have to learn "see - saw - seen".

As a rule of thumb, though, if the verb changes the vowel in the past tense, the past participle will end in -en, while if it doesn't, it will end in -t. (prüfen - prüfte - geprüft but sehen - sah - gesehen)


Minzinamo, That's an extremely useful rule of thumb! Despite a minority of exceptions. For example, bringen, brachte, gebracht.

Learning a German verb is like learning a little song: "sehen (sieht), sah, gesehen." And the shifts in the vowel, if any, are often similar to English: "see, saw, seen."

OK, more similar in vowel shift would be "kommen, kam, ist gekommen" and "come, came, come." With verbs, knowing German or English really helps in learning the other language.


Thank you Mizinamo. I've just found a site that illuminates the topic a bit more: http://www.nthuleen.com/teach/grammar/perfektexpl.html


this sentence took like a million years to load for grading...very intense moments haha!


This sentence is now hilariously topical for Audi diesels.


There is no "would have", "had" or "would" in this sentence. Isn't this what "hätten" supposed to mean?? The Doulingo answer said: They said, they did not test this car. Is this not simple past tense or am I wrong?


    The verb hätten is a modified form of haben called the "subjunctive" or Konjunktiv in German. It has several uses. It can be used to talk about things that are not real (things that "would", but are not) and to talk about things that someone else said (so, if someone else said something in the simple past, it would get this modification when you report that they said it). In this example it could be either, but it's definitely necessary one way or the other.


    Thanks a lot for the clarification :)


    How do we know it's "they" and not "she"? Aren't the verb forms the same in each case?


    No. If it were "she," it would be "Sie sagte . . . sie hätte . . . ."


    Yep, realized this not 2 minutes after I posted the comment, but it was too late. ) Thanks.


    would not have checked


    Duo is not accepting any form of English sentence which uses 'would have', e.g. 'They say that they would not have tested this car'. Why is 'would have' not a suitable translation of 'hätten' in this instance, and how does it differ from all the instances where it DOES translate as 'would have'?


    Duo is not accepting any form of English sentence which uses 'would have'

    That is not true.

    e.g. 'They say that they would not have tested this car'.

    Why did you translate sie sagten (past tense) with "they say" (present tense)?


    Because that is an exceedingly common expression in British English in this context.


    The translation has to be not only correct English, it also has to have the same meaning as the German sentence.

    You cannot use a different sentence just because your sentence would be more commonly used.


    It's not a "different sentence", don't be so dramatic. It's an ever-so-slightly different way of expressing the same concept.

    The concept is: that 'they', meaning a group of people, presumably a business, has made a statement regarding their actions, and since that statement does not appear to have been retracted, then that statement stands. It is still true and correct, and thus becomes present as much as it is a recollection of a past tense conversation.

    Nevertheless, thanks for pointing out that my error was to say "say" rather than "said". I didn't even notice the difference, given my explanation above.


    Why isn't "wouldn't've" acceptable?


    I have never seen "wouldn't've" in English. A verb gets at most one contraction. One writes "wouldn't have" even if "wouldn't've" corresponds more closely to the sound of what someone says.


    Not necessarily. Two contractions can be taken, though it is certainly less common and rather colloquial. You can find further evidence of its use in writing on google, but there's a short selection here on the wiktionary entry: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/wouldn%27t%27ve


    Almost anything can be colloquial. "Wouldn't've" is easier or faster to say than "wouldn't have," while "wouldn't have" is easier to write (and easier to read) than "wouldn't've." Consequently, the only context in which you might see "wouldn't've" is when the author wants to convey exactly how something was said, as in expressing character through dialect in a work of fiction.


      The meaning is fine, but Duolingo works much better if you don't use contractions in English.


      They said they did not have this car tested should be right, no???


      "They did not have this car tested" means they did not get someone else to test this car.


      I do not think so. "Sie hätten" is active- "they had not tested" rather than "they did not have tested".


      They said they would haven't tested this car

      That was Duolingo's translation. Look at it, because it doesn't make nonsense.


      Warum ist es "sagten"?


      It is the past tense (preterite) of "sagen". Preterite sounds a bit more formal.

      You could also use the perfect form, "Sie haben gesagt", which sounds more casual.


      I say, ''You said they would not have this car examined''. From what Duo has taught me, this should be the correct answer. Duo's answer is with ''hatten'' and not with ''hätten''. Am I right? Please correct me if this is not the case.


      At bare minimum, the English word order should not have "examined" at the end of the sentence because that changes the meaning. (See Soglio's comment above.)

      My understanding is that both "You said they would not have examined the car." and "You said they did not examine the car." would be correct, but I'm not completely sure, so someone correct me if I'm wrong.


      Sie sagten sie hatten dieses auto nich gepruft


        A lingot to the person who identifies the five mistakes ;)


        Sie sagten, sie hätten dieses Auto nicht geprüft.

        How did I do? :P


        What a great exercise! I'd like to see more like this. There were actually 6 mistakes: missing comma, missing umlaut, missing capital A, misspelled "nicht," missing umlaut, and missing period.


        Ist das nicht eher ein Konjunktiv?


          It is a subjunctive form, but subjunctive forms can also be used to report what other people said (even when they themselves only used the indicative form). When we translate this back to English, we can use a normal indicative form to report what they said, because English doesn't have this rule like German does.


          what's the difference between "test" and "check out"


          "Check out" is more vague and informal. "Test" suggests that you have a set of criteria and processes.

          I might "check out" a car by simply looking at it ("Hey, pretty snazzy!") but I wouldn't call that a test.

          If I "test" a car, I'm not just glancing at it.


          The English right answer should be in the past perfect: They said that they hadn't tested this car


          How would you say that "You said that they did not test this car" using formal Sie? The same way, ja?


          Another one that cant be reported because "there is a problem with this exercise"


          I have finished DL's program. And I have reached a high B2.2 level. I wish Konjuktiv I and II and subjunctive should also be taught to make the program still more useful. I cannot find a good program to teach that properly with lots of exercises on the internet.


          You can review the three skills that essentially cover the subjunctive:

          1. V. Cond. (Conditional Verbs)
          2. Cond. Perf. (Conditional Perfect)
          3. V. Cond. 2 (Conditional Verbs 2)

          The two V. Cond. skills 'teach' the construction 'conjugated KII form of "werden" (bzw. "würde") + infinitive', however, if you learn/know the KII form of the infinitive verb, you can substitute that for "würde". E.g.:

          Das würde ich gut finden.
          Das fände ich gut.

          And that would at least be the Konjunktiv II sorted in the present tense. The KII in the past tense is actually already covered in the Cond. Perf. skill, as there is no verb form that conveys both the past tense and subjunctive at the same time. So the conjugated KII form of "sein" or "haben" + past participle is the closest we get. Duo tends to prefer that form over "würde" + past participle + "sein"/"haben" (which I do too). E.g.:

          Das hätte ich gut gefunden.
          Das würde ich gut gefunden haben.

          However, it's true, there are only very select sentences where you can even use the Konjunktiv I here on Duo, and even there it's just (hopefully) an accepted alternative solution, rather than the preferred answer. In Duo's defence though, the Konjunktiv I is used much less than the KII, and is the most regular verb form in the German language; so once someone has a firm grasp of the KII, it shouldn't be a problem to quickly get the hang of the KI.

          P.S. It's spelt "Konjunktiv", and the subjunctive is simply the English equivalent/translation of the German Konjunktiv.


          I still do not understand ,why here haette is translated as had, and not would have


          Three or four times reading through the comments here may make it a bit clearer. Also following the links to more info.


          Why is this a case where a connecting word such as, "dass" is not required in the German translation? In some other exercises I have been marked wrong for leaving out the word for "that".


          This sentence can be formed in two different ways, both of which should be correct

          Sie sagten, sie hätten dieses Auto nicht geprüft

          Sie sagten, dass sie dieses Auto nicht geprüft hätten


          Indeed, but MurrayDouglas's question was why that's the case here, but not in others like:

          Es gefällt mir, dass du pünktlich bist. or
          Ich finde es schade, dass du nicht da warst.

          Which I believe is predominantly dependent on the verb in the main clause—there are a handful* that allow the omission of "dass", where most do not.

          *I presume there aren't that many, but this isn't something I've really studied, more learnt through experience. But off the top of my head, I think the most common verbs where this (at least sometimes) applies are:

          • sagen
          • glauben
          • denken
          • meinen
          • wissen



          • finden in the sense of "have an opinion" -- ich finde, das können wir später besprechen "I think we can discuss this later".
          • vermuten
          • annehmen (assume)
          • schätzen (assume, presume)
          • fürchten (be afraid that ...): ich fürchte, sie ist tot "I'm afraid she's dead" (not "I am afraid of that fact" but "I am unhappy to have to tell you")


          Oh, my stars, something else I had no idea about. Is the above set out in any kind of...rule? If I did construct a sentence with one of these verbs and "dass" would it just sound funny or be quite wrong?


          If I did construct a sentence with one of these verbs and "dass" would it just sound funny or be quite wrong?

          Depending on the verb it will vary between "completely acceptable" and "a bit less common" then doing it without dass. I'm not sure it would ever be completely wrong. And sometimes the form without dass will even be a bit less common than the form with.

          Is the above set out in any kind of...rule?

          What they seem to have in common is that they are about expressing opinions or saying things.


          @mizinamo - Thank you, once again. Such a subtle language.


          i wrote "they said, they would have not test this car" and it's incorrect... I don't know why


          i wrote "they said, they would have not test this car" and it's incorrect... I don't know why

          "have test" is not correct English; it has to be "have tested".

          Or as a whole sentence: "They said they would not have tested this car."

          Note also the position of the word "not".


          The German sentence implies that they would not have tested the car (for some reason). The English sentence says they DID NOT test the car. Wouldn't it be less ambiguous (and less complicated) for a German to say " sie haben diese auto nicht geprüft" if they meant the latter. Deutsch ist verruckt! (oder ich bin verruckt).


          The German sentence implies that they would not have tested the car (for some reason).

          Not necessarily -- the past subjunctive is not only used as a conditional (would not have) but also for reported speech (did not).


          Why is there a "that" in the translation when there is no "dass" in the sentence?


          I thought the main issue in these lessons is to learn CONDITIONALS


          I wrote "She said" instead by accident and realized my mistake while waiting for the result -- you know, when Duo suddenly takes forever to grade it. But it was not a mistake, after all. According to the following site, I should have been failed for this. http://www.verbformen.de/konjugation/sagen.htm

          Or is "She said" for "Sie sagten" correct?

          EDIT: This exercise is bugged out for me, accepting anything as correct. I have reported it.


          Just like another user here noticed, this page seem to be taking a very long time to load. I am currently using an internet connection that is indeed very fast so this article in particular seems to be exceptionally slow to load since I don't have any problems at all loading these articles overall.

          Any one else who has experienced the same problem with this specific article?


          Wouldn't "HAVE NOT" also be acceptable in this sentence?


            "They said they have not tested this car" should also be correct, in my opinion.


            "They said they have not tested this car" is awkward at best. You can say: "They said they didn't test this car." OR "They said they hadn't tested this car." The present perfect tense works well only if you use direct quotation: They said, "We haven't tested the car."


            this is wrong! wouldn't have tried


            "They said they hadn't checked out this car" was not accepted. Reported.


            I would say "check out" is not right for "prüfen." "Check out" sounds like simply looking at something, but "prüfen" is testing or examining it; you could also use just "checked this car" here.


            Full agreement with -Copernicus- here.

            Furthermore, I would translate your sentence to:

            Sie sagten, sie hätten sich dieses Auto nicht angeschaut.


            Another translation that was accepted was "They said that SHE did not test this car."

            Can somebody explain why "Sie hätten" is "she would have" here?


            Wrong translation; correct is " they said, that they would not have checked this car"


            Have you read through the comments?
            It's been explained pretty extensively that there are two valid interpretations of this sentence. One being your suggestion, the other being the translation you describe as "wrong".


            I think it should also accept the version ending with "out"

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