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The conditional [is] (outdated Conditional [is] , from Latin condicio , later also conditio 'condition') is a subcategory of the verb mode . With its help, a fact can be expressed as part of an implication .

In some Romance languages such as French , conditional is the term for a separate mode such as the Subjonctif (also "subjunctive") or in Spanish for the condicional and the subjuntivo . These languages ​​also have their own synthetic verb forms of the conditional. In other languages ​​such as German, the functions of the conditional coincide with others in the subjunctive. In English, the equivalent of the German subjunctive (II) in the replacement form (“would”) is referred to as conditional (mood) .

Romance languages


The conditionalis of the Romance languages ​​goes back to a vulgar Latin paraphrase with the past tense form of habere as a modal verb + infinitive of the main verb, analogous to the future tense, which was formed with the corresponding present tense forms of the modal verb. In the course of the language change, the modal verb became a tied morpheme and developed into a conditional ending. So there has been a resynthesis.

Future tense: cantare has' he has to sing '> * cantar-at > Italian canterà , Spanish cantará , French (il) chantera , he will sing'
Conditionalis: cantare habēbat , he had to sing '> * cantar-eat > altital. cantaría , Spanish cantaría , French (il) chanterait 'he would sing'

The development turned out differently. In New Italian, for example, these flexives go back to the strong past tense ( passato remoto ) of the auxiliary verb ( cf.canterebbe 'he would singen' <Altital. Canterabbe 'he would have sung' <future stem canter - + preterital form abbe 'he had'), in on the other hand, they can be traced back to the past tense of the auxiliary verb (see above).

Because the Romance future tense, with the exception of Romanian and Sardinian , where it was still paraphrased (e.g. sard. At a cantare 'he will sing', iat a cantae 'he would sing'), underwent the same grammaticalization process and is derived from the same modal verb (Modal verb habere in the present tense → temporal auxiliary verb (still in Sardinian) → enclitonic (still in Portuguese ) → tied morpheme, future ending), the conditional is morphologically a future-oriented, modal infinitive construction in the imperfect. This origin shows in its probably original function as the future of the past .


The conditional can express:

  • the future or post-temporality in relation to the past (cf. future past tense ): span. "Pensaba que no sucedería nada." - "He meant that nothing would happen."
  • Hypothetical (cf. Irrealis ), e.g. B. in conditional sentences : ital. "L ' avrebbe baciata , se lei l'Avesse permesso" - "He would they kissed , when they would have allowed it."
  • a request of the speaker, cf. Italian. " Vorrei rivederti", "I want to see you again."
  • a presumption (cf. suppositive ) in the past: span. " Estaría enfermo." - " Maybe he was sick."

As a substitute forms of conditionalis in some Romance languages of the indicative of acts imperfect ( "span eg.. Podia . Trabajar más" (colloquially) - "He could work more." Or Italian "Se ti. Vedevo , ti salutavo ." - "If I you would have seen , could I ask you greetings .") In Spanish, is still a Periphrase with iba a + infinitive available.

Shape example

In the Romance languages ​​there are analytical perfect forms of the conditional, which are paraphrased with the simple forms of this mode of the auxiliary verb for sein or haben + participle II. An example here is the formation of the conditional of the verbs avere 'haben' and essere 'sein' in Italian :

  avere eat avere eat
  Conditional I
Conditional II
Sing. 1st person avrei sarei avrei avuto sarei stato / stata
2nd person avresti saresti avresti avuto saresti stato / stata
3rd person avrebbe sarebbe avrebbe avuto sarebbe stato / stata
Plur. 1st person avremmo saremmo avremmo avuto saremmo stati / state
2nd person avreste sareste avreste avuto sareste stati / state
3rd person avrebbero sarebbero avrebbero avuto sarebbero stati / state

Note: A synthetic conditional never developed in Sardinian. The imperfect form is also periphrastic. Less common terms for conditional I and conditional II are conditional present and conditional perfect , cf. English present conditional and past conditional , which have become commonplace in the shoulder terminology.

Conditionalis in other languages

In Latin , the conditional as the imperfect subjunctive or past perfect tense is functionally incorporated as an irrealis .

For Spanish there is the present conditional and the perfect conditional, see

A synthetically realized conditional is also present in Sanskrit and Pali . In both languages ​​it is formed by the future stem and provided with augmentation , which brings its morphological status - similar to the Romance languages ​​- close to the future.

The similarity between future tense and conditionalis is more obvious in Sanskrit than z. B. in French, so that the conditionalis in Sanskrit grammars is often integrated into the verbal paradigm as a tense form , not as a mode. In Pali, however, it is customary to analyze the conditional as a mode.

Conditionalis in English

In English (see) the paraphrase with the modal verb would + infinitive is used as present conditional (e.g. He would work 'he would work') and that with would + have + participle II as past conditional (e.g. He would have worked 'he would have worked'). In addition, both verb forms are still in the progressive form : He would be working (present) and He would have been working (past).

The English conditional has the same uses as the Romance and occurs in indirect speech as the future tense of the past instead of a future tense in direct speech, provided the introductory verb appears in a past tense:

She said: 'I will be eighteen'. (Future tense I) → She said she would be eighteen. (Conditional I)

Expressions like I would like or I would prefer are about weakened wishes.

Dignity form in German

The substitute form of the subjunctive (or: dignity form, subjunctive III) is sometimes referred to as conditional. It does not designate an independent modal form, but forms a morphological variant that also expresses the subjunctive  II.

Generally speaking, one can say that the would -form in German is gradually replacing the actually correct subjunctive II wherever its forms are perceived as antiquated or embellished in spoken German (“She said she would like to go on vacation” → “she said she would like on vacation fly ") or in the cases where one of which can be the forms of the subjunctive not clear the indicative differ (" I wish they were finally gone "→" I wish they would finally go away " ).

Status of the would form

Morphologically (purely in terms of the formation of the form) the would form is the future tense of the subjunctive  II.

There are different definitions for the inclusion of the would -form in the system of verbs:

  • Under the keyword verb in the Schüler-Duden 2003, the would form with the name conditional or conditional form applies as a separate mode category.
Conditional I: "He would resign."
Conditional II: "He would have been resigned."
  • It is assigned to the indicative verb forms with the name future past tense .
"When she realized she would never see him again , she started crying."
  • Apply in the dictionary in 2005 would + infinitive and would + infinitive perfect - there "would-Perfect" called - not as Futurformen, but not as special mode shapes.
  • In the Metzler Lexicon Language in the entry for the subjunctive , the technical term Konjunktiv III is mentioned for the would form - as well as for the dialectal (e.g. in Swabian) occurring paraphrase from the subjunctive II of tun + infinitive, i.e. do + infinitive .
  • In Götze and Ernest Hess-Lüttich , the paraphrases with would receive the position as subjunctive II of the expectation level, but are listed under the "lexical-pragmatic means of the modality". The conclusion of the grammar is: "Overall, it must be admitted that the position of the would -form in the context of the subjunctive is still relatively unclear."

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b Helmut Glück (Ed.): Metzler Lexikon Sprach. Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 1993, ISBN 3-476-00937-8 .
  2. ^ Herwig Krenn and Wilfried Zeuch: Spanish. Grammar. Buch-und-Zeit-Verlagsgesellschaft, Cologne 2004, ISBN 3-8166-0549-4 .
  3. English Grammar. Buch-und-Zeit-Verlagsgesellschaft, Cologne 2004, ISBN 3-8166-0512-5 .
  4. a b c Scientific advice of the Duden editorial team (ed.): Duden. The Grammar (Volume 4), Mannheim 2005, ISBN 3-411-04047-5 .
  5. Editing School and Learning: Duden Schülerlexikon , Mannheim 2003 7 ; ISBN 3-411-04267-2 .
  6. ^ Peter Eisenberg : Outline of the German grammar The sentence ; 2004 2 , ISBN 978-3-476-01888-5 .
  7. Lutz Götze and Ernst WBHess-Liege: grammar of German language system and language use , Cologne 2004, ISBN 3-8336-0131-0 .