Conditional sentence

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Conditional clause , also called a conditional clause , describes a type of adverbial clause in grammar , i.e. a subordinate clause . Conditional sentences are marked in German by conjunctions such as if , if and if or by a special word order ( verb first position ). The combination of the conditional clause and its associated main clause is also called a conditional structure (or “if-then clause”, “condition-consequence clause”).

In a general sense, the meaning of a conditional sentence consists in expressing the antecedent of a conditional , i.e. a prerequisite for the validity of another sentence. Depending on the grammatical form and context, different interpretation variants with enriched content arise. In a rough classification, three types are generally cited: Conditional sentence I (realis of the present or probability), II ( unrealis of the present or improbability) and III (unrealis of the past or impossibility).

Conditional sentences in the German language

In German , the formation of conditional or conditional sentences leads through a special sentence structure . They are dependent on an action, an event or a fact that can only be named on the basis of a certain condition. In other words, they only come about when a certain condition, i.e. condition, is met. Furthermore, certain conjunctions are used in the German conditional sentence. The decisive factor in assessing the condition is to check whether it is a condition that can be met at the time of the statement or in the future; described as a real sentence (conditional sentence I). Or whether in an unreal sentence an action, an event or a state that is described in the past or the future as an impossible or restricted condition.

Name of the shape Tempora example
Indefinitus (Realis) of the present Present or future tense I. When she comes, I'll talk to her / I'll talk to her.
The unrealis of the present Subjunctive  II in the past tense If she came, I would speak to her / I would speak to her.
Unrealis of the past Subjunctive  II in the past perfect If she had come, I would have spoken to her.


  • Duden - The grammar . 8 edition. Dudenverlag, Mannheim 2009, pp. 1082-1085.

Web links

Wiktionary: Conditional sentence  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Conditional clauses  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Definition in Duden-Grammar 2009 (p. 1253, "Directory of technical terms"): "Conditional clause: the sub-clause that specifies a prerequisite / condition"
  2. Unreal conditional clauses (PDF), online grammar.