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  5. How do you say "if" in German?


How do you say "if" in German?

Title says it all. I know how, but need some context for all of the words.

June 9, 2015



It depends: When "if" is used for declaring a condition, one uses "falls". When used for interrogational clauses (which means that it can be replaced by "whether"), "ob" is the word to use.


"Falls" is good, because it can't be confused with other meanings. "Wenn" is used more, although you can't be sure if it is meant like If or when.

"Wenn ich morgen nach Hamburg fahre, gebe ich dir das Geld." If / when I drive to Hamburg tomorrow, I will give you the money.

"Falls ich morgen nach Hamburg fahre,..." If I drive to Hamburg tomorrow,...


There is also "ob" - and it's very tricky for English speakers to know when to use this instead of falls or wenn. Check these out:




I found ob very easy to use, personally. Like, really easy. It's basically "whether". I use it a lot and haven't had any issues thus far. Ich weiß nicht, ob ich das machen sollte oder nicht. Die Katze hat keine Ahnung, ob die Maus noch immer da ist. Usw. I don't mean to sound knobby, ... I'm just saying that it's not really THAT difficult, at least it wasn't for me. xD

I also didn't have any issue with wenn and find falls simple. I always think of falls as in-case, depending on context. Granted, I've been at this German thang for over 5 years now, so maybe I should just halte die Klappe. xD


[deleted] Former reply was incorrect.


"When I reply to your comment..." <-- This is translated as 'wenn'.

In English, we're pretty casual about our distinction between when and if. When usually gives the implication that something is very likely, or certain to happen. If implies an uncertainty.

In German, the future is always uncertain. You always use 'if'. Doesn't matter how confident you are about your statement ;-)

Also, 'wann' is only used as 'when' in questions.


Ah, thanks for pointing that out!


You don't... The closest word for if in German are any of these:

Provided that = falls

Whether = ob

When = Wenn

If (When) I have time, I will call you = Wenn ich Zeit habe, werde ich dich anrufen.

I don't know, if (whether) it is clear = Ich weiß es nicht, ob es klar ist.

If (Provided that) you have homework, tell me = Falls Sie Hausaufgaben haben, sagen Sie mir!

In each of these cases, you could have replaced the word "if" by one of the others, and so you would use that corresponding word in German.


I notced the verb is at the end of the sentance when you use "if". is that always the case?

[deactivated user]

    There are many possible uses:


    Ich weiß nicht, ob es funktioniert. I don't know if/whether it works.


    Wenn ich fahre, rennst du. If/when I drive, you run.

    Falls can be used to show a higher doubt that it will happen. And finally solange is used more like "as long as". I hope this helps.

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