1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Dutch
  4. >
  5. "Als er geen zon zou zijn, zo…

"Als er geen zon zou zijn, zou leven niet mogelijk zijn."

Translation:If there were no sun, life would not be possible.

December 26, 2014



Am I the only one who finds this difficult!!? Also, it should have been mentioned somewhere in the tips that zou/zouden could be used in both parts of the sentence, or am I missing something?


I'm really struggling with this one too!


I also find it confusing, especially since this site gives a different rule on how to form these sentences. http://www.dutchgrammar.com/en/?n=Verbs.re22 Could someone please explain this? Can I use the conditional in both clauses or not?


Are you essentially asking when to use something such as:

  • Als er geen zon was, zou leven niet mogelijk zijn.


  • Als er geen zon zou zijn, zou leven niet mogelijk zijn.



That really helped me understand the first half! I sort of understand the second half anyway so at least I can see where this sentence comes from now, thanks!


Glad I could help! \^_^

The first sentence is essentially saying:

  • If there had been (in the past, previously) no sun THEN 'life would not be possible'.

The second sentence:

  • If there were/were to be/would be (subjunctive) no sun THEN 'life would not be possible'.


I see, so it's like "if there were in general no sun". One of the hard bits of learning a language is how ambiguous English is (which I've never noticed before) and having to figure out what I really mean.


"In English, the subjunctive mood is used to explore conditional or imaginary situations." http://grammarist.com/grammar/subjunctive-mood/


Not in English.


This sentence is using the subjunctive mood in the dependent clause after 'als', which, while largely no longer a thing in English, seems to still be in use in Dutch, albeit in a different form from the way it was formed in English.


"If there were no sun," is the subjunctive in English. It's true that it's tending to disappear in English, but it is still used in phrases such as this one.


The problem is that it is applied hapazardly in the Engligh translations in the Dutch unit. There are other conjectural or counterfactual clauses where Duo requires the English indicative translation. Granted, these are obscure and tortuous shades of meaning in both languages.


If there were no hints, this lesson would not be possible. (for me)


Why is "zouden" used in both sentences? Shouldn't it rather be "Als er geen zon was, zou leven niet mogelijk zijn"?


I'm presuming zou/zouden is was/were/would and so it is used twice due to the fact that it says: if there were no sun, life would not be possible


It should also be possible to say "if there is no sun, life would be impossible", or am i totally mistaken?


Why not "If there was no sun, life would be impossible"? Help!


In cases of 'present contrary to fact' one should use the subjunctive. That means that in all such 'if' cases one must write 'were' and not 'was' (If I were, if you were, if he/she/it were...). True, you will often find the usage 'If ... was' (even among the Duolingo experts!), but grammarians still consider this incorrect, although it has become common in vernacular US English.


You're absolutely right, and I have always known that. But, with the general dumbing down of English, esp. by US influence (for example by not forming adverbs from adjectives, as in "you sang amazing" instead of "you sang amazingly" and other areas of laziness in grammar, spelling, and punctuation), I had assumed this was perhaps another instance of misuse that was becoming the norm. I'm all for preserving the full expressiveness of English even if others aren't sensitive to its subtleties.


so does this mean that when you are making a conditional, the structure like "zouden zijn" could be used in both part of the sentence? I mean in English usually it's like were+would be or had done+would have done, the "would" dont usually go to both part. by the way what should i say if i want to mean "i would have done"? thanks~


Question: Why is this incorrect?: "If there wouldn't be a sun, life would not be possible."?


'If there were no sun, life would be impossible', is the correct version in English, = subjunctive mood followed by conditional tense. Your sentence would never be said.


It's against English grammar. In proper English the first conditional sentence type is: IF + Present Simple + Future Tense (will); the second conditional sentence type: IF + Past Simple + Conditional (would); and the third conditional sentence type: IF + Past Perfect + Past Conditional.


is impossible not the same as not possible?


Generally, the meaning might be the same, but it's important to translate words and phrases as precisely as the two languages allow. On another occasion, you might need to alter the meaning of "not possible" / "niet mogelijk" by turning it into something like "It is not only possible, but even desirable" / "Het is niet alleen mogelijk, maar zelfs gewenst", which you can't do with 'impossible' / 'onmogelijk'.


The if-part never contains "would etc", the other part does. It is implied stricktly, as all computers do!


I think this reply is the clearest for non-English speakers, I award a lingot!


Strictly speaking not good English - it should be subjunctive - If there were no sun, life would be impossible - or - if there had been no sun life would have been impossible. So - is zou zijn subjunctive here, or can you have two conditionals in one sentence in Dutch? Not the case in English (or Italian, which I'm also studying.)


German would use a double conditional in this case, so I'm left to think the same is true for closely-related Dutch.

English uses the subjunctive mood, which no longer exists in Dutch, so they have their own grammar convention.


The word 'zon' is not correctly pronounced. It is pronounced if it was zo'n instead of zon

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