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  5. "Ich rufe an, falls ich es fi…

"Ich rufe an, falls ich es finde."

Translation:I will call if I find it.

November 23, 2014



what makes it will call instead of just call?


Short answer: the intersection of language evolution with petty concerns such as "making sense".

Historically, Germanic languages had only two tenses, past and non-past. All the complicated German tenses were invented relatively recently (centuries ago), and have begun to be discarded again, at least in colloquial speech.

It's for much this reason that the tenses called "perfect" and "imperfect" are treated exactly the same in speech, with preference between the two dictated by prosody and structure concerns rather than by actual meaning, whereas in English they actually do mean different things.

Another consequence is that the "future tense" they teach in school is vanishingly rare in spoken German. The literary way of saying this would be "Ich werde anrufen...", but the future is usually only implied. This occurs in English too, but it's not nearly as common. Think of "The concert ends at 9", where the present is used to imply a future because actual present wouldn't make any sense. This German sentence works much the same way.

The reason that this construct definitely implies future, rather than a simple present, is "falls". Translating "falls" as "if" does a bit of disservice to the word; it's much more specific than that - "I call you if I find it" can be interpreted as meaning that every time I find this object, I call you. "Falls" cannot perform this function. The most accurate English translation of "falls" that I can think of is as an English phrase: "in the event that". And "I call you in the event that I find it" just screams that it's missing a future, don't you think?


Thanks for the patient and detailed explanation!

  • 2328

So is "Ich rufe an" more commonly used than "Ich werde anrufen" to say "I will call" in this context?


Ironically the English phrase it literally translates to: "I'm calling in case I find it" also has implied future tense but on the second verb. Is that why Duo considers it wrong?


Basically, yes. In your sentence, the call happens before the finding. The call is made to prepare for the possibility that the thing is found. In "Ich rufe an, falls ich es finde", the call happens after the finding. It's what will be done in the event that the thing is found. So it definitely translates to "I'll call if I find it."

I think "in case" focuses on countermeasures already made, whereas "falls" focuses on contingency plans. (Probably the best way to translate "in case" is "für den Fall".)


Thanks, it's not always easy to learn connotations straight from Duo



I very much like and agree with your comments. But would a more simple explanation be that in German the 'Present Simple' tense is used to express a promise or reassurance (which implies future action) whereas in English we'd use "I'll .."? For instance "Ich mache es" v "I'll do it".



I don't really agree that your (deliberately?) illogical English sentence is a direct translation of the German because you've translated the German Present with the English 'Present Progressive', which doesn't exist in German.


thank you for your reply; I see what you mean


It seems to me that the action of calling depends on the finding, so logically I WILL call (in the future) if I find it. As of now, I have not found it yet. So if one day I happen to find wathever it is we're talking about, I WILL call. It makes sense to me and it reminds me of this: http://www.englishkitab.com/en/Essential_Grammar/Double_Future.html


To grammarpenguin:

The translation, "I am calling, if (in the event) you find it" would satisfy the present tense "requirement" for the verb call, without having to use the future tense of "I will call". Obviously, the process of calling would happen in the future, because it is predicated on something that might happen in the future ("if/in the event I find it").

I guess this one of those in grammar rules might be analogous to "the spirit of the law vs the letter of the law".

I have zero linguistic background, but I think this really speaks to what you have shared with us about the evolution (past and ongoing) of the German language, and also the fact that German and English verbs can not be lined up tense by tense and equivalently translated (because the two languages do not both have the same set of tenses for verbs.)

I know I am splitting hairs. Your explanation was excellent and I really appreciate those contributors such as yourself that do such a great job to help us learn German!

I know your post is from 6 years ago, and that you probably have moved on from this. And when I post a reply to a very old post, I feel like I am opening a door to an old abandoned house and yelling, "Hello, is anyone there?"


great point and effort just try making it shorter xD !!!!


The hover hint gives "shout" as one of the translation but it was not accepted. What's going on here?


well it is not wrong per se but there is a problem:

rufen can mean " to shout"

but we have a verb + preposition

and in german you will find the whole verb in infinitive as "anrufen"

but the preposition will get splitt off if it is used as predicate

and anrufen means "to call (somebody [via telephone])"


I knew rufe...an was to call sb. over the telephone, but Duo doesn't accept I am calling if I find it. The answer suggested to me was I call in if I find it. Am I missing something here?


Some people do say "I'll give you a shout" meaning "I'll call you/phone you". Don't know if that would work or not, but we'd still need to know that it means "on the phone". I took this literally but, once you know what it means, it kind of makes sense.


what's the difference between 'falls' and 'wenn'?


"Falls" is in general a much more restrictive "wenn". It can be used only with the present indicative, and maybe the future, though I'd just use the present as an implied future there, as in "falls du morgen Zeit hast". Not sure about that, but definitely not past or conjunctive. (Notice that "falls" comes from the genitive of "Fall", which means "case". So it's kind of like "in the case that".) Provided that it's grammatically usable, "falls" feels less likely than "wenn". It's also got a bit of an "if and only if" feel sometimes.

"Wenn du studierest, bestehst du die Prüfung."

If you replace "Wenn" with "Falls", it sounds like you might doubt that the person is going to study, and also implies a bit more than before that you can't pass the test without studying. But if the sentence had used "...studiert hättest...", "falls" would sound pretty nonsensical.


Thanks :) I was actually reading about this last night and I found this page which was also helpful:



Very good explanation! Thanks :)


Are there rules in German similiar to 'if clauses'?


I don't get why "I call" is not accepted here... I had everything up there except will... is rufe a "future tense"? and if not, why can't you say "I call if I find it"?

  • 1055

As of now, it is accepted (23/07/2018)


why an and not Ich rufe


Rufen is to call in general, like to shout out something. Anrufen is to call someone on the phone. Ich rufe dich an = I call you.


Just to make sure, is "I will call when I find it" not a correct translation?


That's because "if" and "when" are not the same thing. If implies that something may or may not happen, but when implies that something will happen.


Ah, so there is a difference! Danke schön!


When will you correct your IT? I shall and we shall is correct as well as I will and we will


why future tense?


How about "I will make a call if I find it?"

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