Conditional sentence in German
What is a conditional sentence?
A conditional sentence consists of a wenn-(if)-clause and a conclusion. The wenn-clause is the dependent clause of the conditional sentence. The conjugate, or finite verb has to be placed at the end of the sentence.
- Wenn du mich magst, hilfst du mir. (If you like me, you will help me)
- Wenn du morgen Zeit hast, gehen wir ins Kino. (If you have time tomorrow, we will go to the cinema)
Structure of a conditional sentence
In the following you will find some examples of the positions of if-clauses and the conclusion. If the clause begins with a condition the subject is located behind finite verb in the conclusion.
|Wenn alle Menschen so dächten,||dann wäre die Welt sauberer.||If all people would think that way, then the world would be much cleaner|
|Wenn ich morgen Zeit habe,||dann können wir ins Kino gehen.||If I have time tomorrow, then we can go to the cinema|
|Wenn ich heute Zeit gehabt hätte,||dann hätte ich dir im Garten helfen können.||If I would have had time today, then I could have helped you in the garden|
or: If the conclusion comes first, the subject is located before the finite verb.
|Die Welt wäre sauberer,||wenn alle Menschen so dächten.||The world would be cleaner, if all people would think that way|
|Wir können ins Kino gehen,||wenn ich morgen Zeit habe.||We can go to the cinema, if I have time tomorrow|
|Ich hätte dir im Garten helfen können,||wenn ich heute Zeit gehabt hätte.||I could have helped you in the garden, if I would have had time today|
1) Real conditions
In both parts of the sentences we assume that the conditions can be fullfilled. We use the present tense in both parts.
- Wenn ich Hunger habe, dann koche ich etwas. (When I'm hungy, I cook something)
- Wenn ich Zeit habe, helfe ich dir natürlich. (When I have time, I will help you of course)
2) Unreal conditions in the present
With the unreal condition, we describe a condition that is not fullfilled in the present. Therefore, we use in both parts of the sentence the subjunctive II. (we can also use the würde + infinitive form). The würde form is more used.
- Wenn ich Geld hätte, würde ich dir das Buch kaufen. (If I had money, I would buy you the book)
- Wenn ich Geld hätte, kaufte ich dir das Buch. (If I had money, I would buy you the book)
3) Unreal conditions in the past
Here, we describe a condition that was not fulfilled in the past. Therefore, we are using the subjunctive II (Konjunktiv II) in both parts of the sentence.
- Wenn ich Geld gehabt hätte, hätte ich dir das Buch gekauft. (If I had money, I would have bought you the book)
- Wenn ich Zeit gehabt hätte, hätte ich etwas mit dir unternommen. (If I had time, I would have done something with you)
Now, that you have learned about the conditional sentences try to apply your knowledge in our interactive exercises.
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