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Placement of "gern" in conditional statements?

Just wondering if anyone has any insight regarding the placement of "gern/gerne" in conditional statements, i.e. "ich würde..."

For example, I've noticed that some statements allow you to say "ich würde gern das [verb]", while others require "ich würde das gern [verb]" (ex. wissen), and still others seem to be interchangeable (ex. durchsuchen).

February 14, 2018



My spontaneous reaction is, that your second version "ich würde das gerne [verb]" is the "normal" one.

The first variant puts a lot of emphasis onto the word "das", meaning "that one and nothing similar". You can also add the word "hier", as in "Ich würde gerne das hier haben". You would then probably point at the item while saying that sentence.

Maybe somebody else can find a better example or explanation.


It's possible to put it after the finite verb, mostly "würde", or after the indirect object (dative):

  • Ich würde gern laufen. (no choice here....)
  • Ich würde Peter gern ein Buch schenken. (Not: Ich würde gern Peter ...)
  • Ich würde (mir) gern ein Buch kaufen. (Not: Ich würde ein Buch gern mir kaufen)

These are no strict rules, you can also use the sentences in parentheses, but they differ a bit in the meaning. They sound unusual (grammatically marked), so people will assume that you have a special message in mind. (E.g., if it's Peter's birthday, there is no discussion about who get's the present, but what to give him - while the marked sentence suggests that it's important that Peter gets the book, not somebody else)

You can also just put it in the first position, but then it sound a bit poetic (Gern würde ich,...) and it carries an idea of impossibility (Gern würde ich dich besuchen, aber ich habe leider keine Zeit).

Unfortunately, I cannot offer you a general rule.

PS: cross-posted with Marie....

PPS: Let's see what happens if I invert the order:

  • Laufen würde ich gern. (laufen is marked)
  • Peter würde ich gern ein Buch schenken (Peter is marked). Ein Buch würde ich Peter gern schenken (ein Buch is marked).
  • Ein Buch würde ich (mir) gern kaufen (ein Buch is marked).

So also the subject goes in front of "gern", if it the order is inverted (not subject-verb-object).


Good examples, I guess I was too focused on where to place "das". If you omitt it completely or use "ein" you have a lot more options.


You were also right. If you use "das" as a demonstrative pronoun, it is very likely that you put it in the first position to mark it and then you arrive at the same structure that I just added to my comment. This is how you construct a "fluent" text - you always pick up the things said before with a reference like das/dies/so/.....


Ah, I forgot: "Ich würde gern das wissen" does not make much sense to me. The possibilities are "Ich würde das gern wissen", "Das würde ich gern wissen" (marking "das") and "Gern würde ich das wissen" (marking "gern", making the sentence "irreal"). For other verbs, it can make sense, like Marie said. It's strongly marking "das", to say "this/that and nothing else/not the other."

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