1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Dutch
  4. >
  5. "Als ik groter was, zou ik ee…

"Als ik groter was, zou ik een olifant eten."

Translation:If I were bigger, I would eat an elephant.

September 4, 2014

24 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/IanCaliban

Yes, English can use a subjunctive here, but Dutch cannot.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MentalPinball

I don't know why someone had downvoted you, because you're right: I were is the Subjunctive, indeed!

I don't know how the Subjunctive is formed in Dutch, anyway, of whether it has a separate form from the Simple Past ir not.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/schiffmeister

"Was" here is not conditional, rather past tense, if I'm not mistaken. For example, in English there is a difference between:

"If I were bigger, I would eat an elephant" -> "were" and "would" match, cond. "If I was bigger, I would eat an elephant" -> technically wrong, commonly said "If I was bigger, I would have eaten an elaphant" -> matching again, past tense

I feel like "als ik groter was, zou ik een olifant eten" is the equivalent of the second sentence I wrote. Any tips from native speakers on this in Dutch?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LGFreeRock0828

From the book:

Similarly to English, Dutch also uses preterit forms in conditional statements:

Als zij hier was, zou zij meegaan.  (If she were here, she would go along.)

Ik zou dol worden als ik hier zou wonen. (I would go crazy if I lived here.)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LGFreeRock0828

We need a native speaker for a final verdict, but I have a Dutch grammar book (iRef Guide to Dutch Grammar) that states that preterit tenses in Dutch can be used to express conditional statements.

So in this example, "was" is being used to make a conditional statement.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/costyn

Well not a linguist so I can't say anything about pretenses etc, but as a native Dutch speaker I can definitely say 'was' in this sentence has the same function as the word 'were' in the English sentence.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/schiffmeister

Thanks for the confirmation


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LGFreeRock0828

Ah, thank you very much.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LingotSanta

That is just mean.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ravi546080

Ridiculous sentence!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AdelidaMar1

I most certainly would not!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mario_Mezzofanti

Elephants are at risk of extinction. You should be ashamed, Duo


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/costyn

Yes... yes I would


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JamesGreening

No! Don't eat the elephant!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AndrewSnijders

How would you say, "If I were bigger, would I eat an elephant?"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Miss.Maerle

Als ik groter was, zou ik (dan) een olifant eten? Or more common: Zou ik een olifant eten als ik groter was?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AndrewSnijders

So it's the same? Als ik groter was, zou ik een olifant eten can mean "If I were bigger, I would eat an elephant" AND "If I were bigger, Would I eat an elephant?"

Is it inflection that decides it?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Miss.Maerle

Yes. Normally it would be:

Ik zou een olifant eten. --> Zou ik een olifant eten?

So then you have an inflection.

But since this is a compound sentence, the second sentence is already inflected (helping verb before subject). So it does not have to change anymore to make it a question.

Als ik groter was, zou ik een olifant eten. --> Als ik groter was, zou ik een olifant eten?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MentalPinball

You mean 'intonation', surely. Right?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/NCThom

Technically "inflection" is okay, since it can be used to describe the modulation of the voice, but I agree that "intonation" would be better to use in a language course, leaving "inflection" to describe changing the form of a word for grammatical purposes.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MentalPinball

Yeap, that's why I was confused, I'm used to using inflection to refer to morphological changes and intonation to refer to changes in pitch,

Thnx!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kwoest

I don't think elephant meat is that nice anyway. I'd prefer beef


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/joke423474

zou ik maar niet doen. laat ze maar mooi leven!

Learn Dutch in just 5 minutes a day. For free.