Unit 15: Subjunctive II

6. Subjunctive II Forms of Modal Verbs

In Unit 10 we dealt with the modal verbs, dürfen, können, müssen, mögen, sollen and wollen and we learned that the lack of an umlaut on conjugated forms of the first four was an indicator of simple past tense. When an umlaut does occur, that indicates the subjunctive II mood:

dürfte would be allowed to / might
könnte would be able to / could
müßte would have to
möchte would like to

Sollte and wollte, however, do not differ visually from their indicative simple past forms, so you will rely on context to detect subjunctive II. They mean “should” or “would be supposed to,” and “would want to,” respectively.


Dürften die Gefangenen jetzt nach Hause gehen, was würden sie zuerst essen?
If the prisoners were allowed to go home now, what would they eat first?

Wenn ich es wollte, dann würde ich es auch machen.
If I were to want to, I would just do it.


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