Help with a sentence

  • Hey everyone, today I came across a sentence that I can't understand:
    "Niels sagte, dass er keine Zeit habe."
    Why do we use "habe" here instead of "hat" or even "hatte"? Is it a subjunctive form? Is this form common in speech?

  • Ah, thank you very much! I looked in the grammar section but couldn't find it, the intermediate and advanced sections were empty, I could only see the beginners sections. But today it showed up. I'll be sure to read through the rest of the explanations as well, thanks again 🙂

  • works@Lingvist

    @crush Guten Morgen 🙂
    yes, you are absolutely correct. Habe is used in the subjunctive mood here (Konjunktiv 1).

    Here is a quick grammar overview that can soon also be found in the grammar hints section.

    The subjunctive mood I (Konjunktiv I) is:

    • used in newspaper articles to convey indirect speech
    • usually not used in conversation

    So how is the Konjunktiv I formed? The only verb that is used in all forms in the subjunctive I is sein (to be).

    ich sei I be
    du sei(e)st you be
    er/sie/es sei he/she/it be
    wir seien we be
    ihr seiet you be
    sie seien they be

    Tim und Hannah sind im Kino.
    Tim and Hanna are at the movies.
    Er sagt, sie seien im Kino.
    He says that they are at the movies.
    All other verbs usually only use the subjunctive form in the 3rd person singular (er, sie, es). Take the -n off the infinitive! That’s it!

    haben (to have)

    Er hat ein rotes Auto.
    He has a red car.
    Er sagt, er habe ein rotes Auto.
    He says that they are at the movies.
    We like to use this subjunctive mood to distance ourselves from the claim or perhaps assert our own neutrality towards what is being said.

    For example, Hans might say:
    Ich bin den Marathon in unter 2 Stunden gelaufen.
    I ran the marathon in under two hours.
    A reporter might write:
    Hans sagt, er sei den Marathon in unter zwei Stunden gelaufen.
    Hans says that he ran the marathon in under two hours.

    Hopefully that clarifies it for you. Let me know if you have more questions! 🙂

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