Subjunctive Mood

Changes in the subjunctive attest to the trend toward analysis, where the formerly synthetic form is being replaced with more isolating morphemes. Historically, the auxiliary det (subjunctive form of du 'to do') StGer. täte 'would/should' + infinitive of the main verb expresses the present subjunctive, e.g. ix det sei forfte 'I would/should understand that'. There are a limited number of verbs which have retained distinct subjunctive forms, e.g. kumo (inf.) - kernt (subj.) 'come'; meyo (inf.) - mext (subj.) 'to care for'. However, these purely synthetic variants are exceptional for most speakers today and known only to older and linguistically conservative persons. In fact, a sentence like ix wot si kemdo hem 'I wish she would come home' is now formed as ix wot si det hem kumo. Only in the auxiliaries hawo 'to have' and sai 'to be' has Pennsylvania German preserved the historically synthetic forms, i.e. het (subj.) StGer. hätte 'would/should have' and wer (subj.) StGer. wäre 'would/should have' respectively. These forms in combination with the past participle are essential in formation of the past subjunctive, e.g. ix het sel godu 'I would have done that'. Subjunctive forms of modal verbs have been maintained, e.g. brauxo 'to need' - braixt (subj.); keno 'to be able' - kent (subj.); solo 'to be expected to' - set (subj.).

Conditional clauses, usually introduced by wan, StGer. wenn 'if, are similar to Standard German, e.g. wan ix raix wer det ix ir helfo StGer. wenn ich reich wäre, würde (täte) ich ihr helfen 'if I were rich, I would help her'.

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