The article deals with the development of the views on the use of the subjunctive mood in indirect speech in German presented in German specialist literature from the 1950s of the 20th century until the present. The development of the views is characterised on the basis of seven editions of the renowned German grammar Duden and other grammars, monographs and articles published in Germany. Until the 1980s, German grammars were dominated by the prescriptive conception, which imposed normative rules for the use of the subjunctive in indirect speech. The main features of this traditional conception included the compulsoriness of the subjunctive in indirect speech and the thesis about the expression of the speaker's attitude by means of different moods. Since the 1970s, a new conception, based on language usage, has gradually been gaining ground; this distinguishes between the use of the subjunctive and the indicative in both written and spoken language and in different text types and casts doubt on the thesis of the speaker's attitude.