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Present conditional?

I learnt from Duolingo course that conditional form of a verb would be constructed (commonly) by würden+ infinitive. However, I came across the werden conjugation table, where it lists würden as past conditional, and werden as present conditional. Could someone please explain, with example, where would this present conditional form be used? And what would be its English counterpart?(when it comes to conditional, would think of only'would' in English- whichever may be the tense: am I right?)

August 23, 2017



The würde + infinitive construction is the more common of two possible ways of forming the present conditional. The other one is the past subjunctive (Konjunktiv II), which is virtually only used for auxiliaries, modals and a few very frequent irregular verbs (like ‘werden’ and ‘wissen’), at least in spoken German. ‘Würde’ is itself the Konjunktiv II of the verb ‘werden’ (meaning ‘to become’, but also used to form the future tense, like English ‘will’). The present conditional is roughly equivalent to the English would + infinitive construction.

The past version of this construction (past conditional) is the Konjunktiv II of the auxiliary verbs haben or sein (hätte or wäre respectively) + past participle (e.g.: ‘ich wäre geschwommen’, ‘ich hätte gearbeitet’). This is roughly equivalent to the English would + past infinitive construction (e.g.: ‘I would have swum’, ‘I would have worked’).

The conditional mood is used in counterfactual conditional sentences (the ‘if ... then ...’ kind of sentences), but contrary to English, German uses the same form in both the protasis (the ‘if’ part) and the apodosis (the ‘then’ part).

Some examples with present conditional (English conditional II):
‘If I were rich, I would be happy’ = ‘wenn ich reich wäre, wäre ich froh’;
‘If I knew her, I would ask her’ = ‘wenn ich sie kennen würde (or kennte), würde ich ihr fragen’;
‘He would go, if it wasn't raining’ = ‘er würde gehen (or er ginge), wenn es nicht regnen würde’.

Examples with past conditional (English conditional III):
‘If I had studied, I would have got good marks’ = ‘wenn ich gelernt hätte, hätte ich gute Noten gekriegt’ (and I hope I nailed the usage of ‘kriegen’);
‘If I had been rich, I would have bought that boat’ = ‘wenn ich reich gewesen wäre, hätte ich das Boot gekauft’;
‘I wouldn't have been sad, if I had known you back then’ = ‘ich wäre nicht traurig gewesen, wenn ich dich schon damals gekannt hätte’.

Of course it's possible for something in the past to be a condition for something in the present, in which case you can mix the tenses:
‘If I had died, I wouldn't be here’ = ‘wenn ich gestorben wäre, wäre ich nicht hier’;
‘I would recognise you, if I had met you yesterday’ = ‘ich würde dich erkennen (or ich erkennte dich), wenn ich dich gestern kennengelernt hätte’.


the 'past conditional' is correct, so use it.


I know that: my query was is there any present conditional in German? Any examples? The query arose merely as duo listed a present conditional form in conjugation tables.

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