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Conditional Clauses in German (Konditionalsätze)

Conditional clauses are a type of subordinate clause. In German, there are 5 types of conditional clauses:

Type of conditionalUsed for
Clause Type -1
Imperativ + Wenn + Präsens
Orders
Clause Type 0
Präsens + Wenn + Präsens
Scientific
or empirical realities
Clause Type 1
Futur I + Wenn + Präsens
Possible Situations
Clause Type 2
Konjunktiv II Präteritum + Wenn +
Konjunktiv II Präteritum
Imaginary situations
in the present
Clause Type 3
Konjunktiv II Plusquamperfekt + Wenn +
Konjunktiv II Plusquamperfekt
Imaginary Situations
in the past

Type -1: Imperativ + Wenn + Präsens

Type -1 clauses are used for giving conditional orders and are formed:

Imperativ + Wenn + Präsens

Sag mir, wenn du Zeit hast
Tell me if you have time

Type 0: Präsens + Wenn + Präsens

Type 0 clauses are used to express empirical or scientific realities. They are constructed in the following way:

Präsens + Wenn + Präsens

Du kannst alles schaffen, wenn du es wirklich willst
You can do it all, if you really want to

Remember that the order of the sentences can be reversed, but the verb must remain in the second position in the main clause:

Wenn du es wirklich willst, kannst du alles schaffen
If you really want to, you can do it all

Type 1: Futur I + Wenn + Präsens

Type 1 clauses are used to express events that might happen. Their construction:

Futur I + Wenn + Präsens

Wenn ich Geld habe, werde ich einen neuen Laptop kaufen
When/If I have money, I will buy a new laptop

NOTE: The idea of this clause is that we think that we are going to have money in the future; we consider it to be a possible situation in the future.

Type 2: Konjunktiv II (Präteritum) + Wenn + Konjunktiv II (Präteritum)

Type 2 is used for narrating situations that have little possibility of taking place:

Konjunktiv II (Präteritum) + Wenn + Konjunktiv II (Präteritum)

Wenn ich Millionär wäre würde ich ein Motorrad kaufen
If I were a millionaire, I’d buy myself a motorcycle

Tipo 3: Konjunktiv II Plusquamperfekt + Wenn + Konjunktiv II Plusquamperfekt

Type 3 conditional clauses express situations that are not possible in the present, their construction is:

Konjunktiv II Plusquamperfekt + Wenn + Konjunktiv II Plusquamperfekt

Wenn ich an seiner Stelle gewesen wäre, hätte ich das selbe gemacht
If I had been in his place, I would have done the same

Conditional clauses without 'Wenn'

Conditional clauses can also be formed without the conjunction wenn but by changing the position of the verb to position 1.

Construction with wenn:

Wenn ich reich wäre, würde ich dir helfen
If I were rich, I would help you

Construction without wenn:

Wäre ich reich, würde ich dir helfen
If I were rich, I would help you




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