https://www.duolingo.com/profile/StallEmpee

"Wir dachten, du würdest uns verlassen haben" vs "wir dachten, du hättest uns verlassen."

Is there a difference between these two sentences? I believe there is in fact a difference in English between the sentences: "You had left us" and "You would have left us", namely whether you did in fact leave. Is this also true in German? Also, is the sentence with 'würden' even considered strictly grammatically correct?

Edit: Sorry, I forgot to provide context which made it seem that "you had left us" is actually an indicative. However, I am talking about the use of the subjunctive, so: 'We thought you had left us' vs 'We thought you would have left us'

August 7, 2019

14 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Hilda87549

"You had left us" is "Du hattest uns verlassen" in German (indicative). "You would have left us" is better translated with "Du hättest uns verlassen", but
"Du würdest uns verlassen haben" is also possible.

August 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/StallEmpee

Sorry I edited the post, I forgot to provide context. So I actually don't mean 'du hattest'.

August 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Janet240859

Both are grammatically correct - but they are in different cases.

But neither of your sentences says "you have left us".

Hättest is in the pluperfect subjunctive - so it means "you would have left us"... if you had had your way. It's more about a desire, an emotion driving an action than a consequence

And "Du würdest uns verlassen haben" is in the conditional, and means more like "you would have left us" if something external had happened, i.e. as a result of something else that could have happened but didn't, and not driven by the subject's own wishes.

We don't tend to differentiate in that way in English so it is difficult for us to distinguish.

EDIT: don't confuse "hattest" with "hättest" - that little umlaut is all-important in distinguishing the pluperfect "had" from the Pluperfect subjunctive "would have"!

Simple (not....)

August 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/StallEmpee

Sorry I edited the post, I forgot to provide context. So I actually don't mean 'du hattest'.

August 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Robert-Alexan

[Not so sure about that myself. Konjunktiv is as mesmerizing as the subjunctive is for English speakers.]

  • Du würdest uns verlassen haben. It's likely, that this a colloquial ersatz form of Konjunktiv II. Many Germans use würden as an auxiliary predicate here for Konjunktiv II Plusquamperfekt in order circumnavigate the often cumbersome genuine Konjunktiv conjugation patterns. However, grammarians would consider this wrong. Technically this is Konjunktiv II Futur II. However Futur II is rare and a Futur II/Konjunktiv II combo is virtually nonexistent.
  • Du hättest uns verlassen. That's the "true" Konjunktiv II Plusquamperfekt. That's often used for wenn-phrase that express an irrealis: Wärst du reicher gewesen, hättest du uns verlassen.
August 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/StallEmpee

I see, so the sentence with würden is in fact grammatically incorrect when translating the sentence: "You would have left us". Thanks!

August 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Janet240859

Not according to my German teacher - she says it is right. She is German, living in England in term times and in Germany the rest of the year. It also figures in a number of the lessons in Duolingo - can't find the topic currently but will edit in when I can

August 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Hilda87549

I wouldn't call it incorrect - as mentioned by Robert-Alexan "würde" is often used for Konjunktiv II. In this context "Wir dachten Du hättest uns verlassen" is a better translation.

August 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Janet240859

I have decided that when I am speaking in German, I will limit myself to talking in only the easier tenses. That means, if I am ever in a dilemma where a difficult choice has to be made, it will be driven by the option which is easier to describe after the event, regardless of the consequences!

August 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sweilan1

Reminds me of something I said to a German teacher. After reviewing the various past tenses in German, she asked the class, "So what you learned about the German past tense?" I replied, "Never talk about your past." (The teacher broke up with laughter.)

August 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Bup442888

I currently have 24 points in German and do not understand the above sentence! Do you study German outside of Duo? To be honest I am finding German very difficult but nevertheless am forcing myself to persist mainly because I find it so easy to hear the words, unlike Spanish for instance but also because I am very stubborn and refuse to throw in the towel until I am thoroughly beaten

August 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/StallEmpee

Well that's because you only have 24 points lol, you can't expect to understand this sentence then, since this entails the conditional perfect course, which is almost at the end of the course.

August 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Hilda87549

The level ("24 points") is not a reliable indicator of your skills in a language: based on XPs it measures basically the effort you spent for Duolingo.

August 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/StallEmpee

Nevermind, I thought he meant 24 XP in total which would be equivalent to like 2 sessions.

August 7, 2019
Learn German in just 5 minutes a day. For free.