German Conditional Clauses

Konditionalsätze im Deutschen – Erklärungen und Beispiele

German Conditional Clauses – Summary


A conditional clause is a subordinate clause introduced by “wenn”. This subordinate clause expresses that an action will only take place if a condition is fulfilled or if it had had another condition.

Real conditions

Here, we describe a condition of which we think it can be fulfilled. In both parts of the sentence we use present tense.

  • “Wenn ich Zeit habe, helfe ich dir.”

Unreal Condition (Present Tense)

In this case we describe a condition of which we think that we can’t fulfill it. In both parts of the sentence, we need use the verb in subjunctive 2  for the situations in the present tense. It is also quite common to use the “würde”-form.

  • “Wenn ich Zeit hätte, würde ich dir helfen.”

Unreal Condition (Past Tense)

Here, we describe a condition, which wasn’t fulfilled in the past. In the main clause and in the subordinate clause you have to use the verb in its subjunctive 2 form.

  • “Wenn ich Zeit gehabt hätte, hätte ich dir geholfen.”
German Conditional Clauses

Welcome to! Well, as you have clicked on this article, I suppose that you are ready to enter the depths of German dependent sentences and learn everything about German conditional clauses. Although you might think that this type of subordinate clause is not really important and could maybe neglected, you should be conscious that there is no other way to express things and action that are under certain condition.

In the following, I’d like to talk about the different situations expressed by German conditional clauses. Well, there is a variety of conditions which have an influence on the construction of the German conditional clause. Of course, we will also focus on the construction of the German conditional clause itself.

And now, let’s not lose too much time and come to the first part of this article and talk about what the German conditional clause actually is. Auf geht’s!

Real and Unreal German Conditional Clauses

Reale und Irreale Bedingung von Konditionalsätzen im Deutschen

Well, let’s come to the first point of this article. Now, we will talk about what a German conditional clause actually is. After that, we will have a look at the different kinds of conditions. So, let’s have a look at this short description of German conditional clauses. Please, try to keep it in mind.

The German conditional clause is a type of dependent clause that is introduced by the subordinating conjunction “wenn”.

These clauses express that an action will only take place under certain conditions. Furthermore, German conditional clauses can describe realistic situations as well as hypothetical ones. And now, let’s come to different types of conditions.

1. Real Conditions

So, the so called real conditional clauses describe realistic situations. That means that a condition which we believe is fulfilled, or could become fulfilled. Well, in this case, we use the present tense in both parts – in the main clause and the conditional clause.

  • “Wenn Philip Zeit hat, redet er mit dir.”

So, apart from this type of condition, there is another important kind of German conditional clause. In the following, we will have a detailed look at that type, too.

2. Unreal Conditions

Now, we will talk about the unreal conditions within German conditional clauses. Well, it is important to know that there are two types: Unreal present conditions and unreal past conditions. Of course, every type has a different mood that is used in the subordinate clause.

Unreal Present Conditions

So, unreal conditionals describe a condition that is not fulfilled in the present. Well, in both parts if the sentence, we use the subjunctive 2 for situations in the present.

  • “Wenn Philip Geld hätte, werde es dir leihen.”
  • “Wenn Philip Geld hätte, hälfe er dir.”

Unreal Past Conditions

Here, we describe a condition that was not fulfilled in the past. Well, in both parts of the sentence we use the subjunctive 1 for situations in the past.

  • “Wenn Philip Geld gehabt hätte, hätte er es dir geliehen.”

Now, we will have a look at the last topic of this article – the construction of the German conditional clause.

3. The Construction of the German Conditional Clause

Finally, we should talk about the construction of this subordinate clause. Well, the condition is always located in the dependent clause and starts with the word “wenn”. Of course, the word “wenn” is a subjunction. As a consequence, the finite verb must come at the end of the clause. Well, you could observe that in the example sentences before:

  • “Wenn Philip Geld hätte, … “
  • “Wenn Philip Geld hat, …”

Furthermore, the action that depends on the condition is located in the main clause. So, if a clause begins with a condition (the dependent clause), the subject of the main clause comes after the finite verb.

  • “Philip hilft dir, wenn er Geld hat.”
  • Wenn Philip Geld hat, hilft er dir.”



Finally, we have reached the last part of this article where you can prove the German skills you have just learned. In the following you will see some phrases that you should complete with the correct terms. Once you have filled all the gaps, just click on the “correct” button and  you can see your errors and the correct results. Good luck and… auf Wiedersehen!

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