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"will" and "would" in Conditional Sentences for German Speakers

A common mistake many German speakers make is using "will" and "would" in the correct place in Conditional Sentences , and could form a sentence such as;

The correct sentence is "If you send me the documents, I will process the order immediately".


Remember; Conditional Sentences follow a set word order, which (almost) always requires "will" or "would" to be placed in the 'outcome' part of the sentence, never in the 'if' part of the sentences.


So, I will assume at this point that the meaning of the different Conditionals Sentences is clear, and will present examples of the correct form of each Conditionals Structure. If you would like the explanations for when we use each conditional sentences, then they can be found here: real conditions and unreal conditions.

  • First Conditional

  • "If you send me the documents, I will process the order immediately".

  • "Wenn Sie mir die Unterlagen zusenden, werde ich den Auftrag umgehend bearbeiten".

  • Form: If + Simple Present, + will-future.


  • Second Conditional

  • "If we had a supplier in China, we would sell our products at a lower price".

  • Wenn wir einen Lieferanten in China hätten, würden wir unsere Produkte zu einem niedrigeren Preis verkaufen.

  • Form: If + Simple Past, + would + infinitive.


  • Third Conditional

  • "If the company had gone bankrupt during the Covid pandemic, we would have made a lot of staff redundant".

  • Wenn das Unternehmen während der Covid-Pandemie in Konkurs gegangen wäre, hätten wir viele Mitarbeiter entlassen.

  • Form: If + Past Perfect, would + have + past participle.

__________


Excercise: The following sentences contain an incorrect use of the words 'will', 'would' and 'would have' which has been underlined. Re-write the sentences in their correct form. The first has been done for you.

  1. If I will have time, I will call you later. = If I have time, I will call you later.

  2. If you would ask me last year, I would have given you a different answer.

  3. If you will tell me when you are free, I will arrange the meeting.

  4. If we would employ more staff, we wouldn't have so much work to do.

  5. If we would have kept our contract with the supplier, we wouldn't have needed to find a new one.

  6. If I will need to stay late in the office today, I will go home early on Friday.

  7. If there wouldn't have been flooding near Cologne last year, we wouldn't have needed to move our office location.

  8. If he would work from home every day, he wouldn't need to commute for so long.

  9. If Elon Musk wouldn't have bought Twitter, their staff wouldn't have left.

  10. If I will find a new job soon, I will hand my notice in.

__________


Answers:

  1. If I have time, I will call you later.

  2. If you had asked me last year, I would have given you a different answer.

  3. If you tell me when you are free, I will arrange the meeting.

  4. If we employed more staff, we wouldn't have so much work to do.

  5. If we had kept our contract with the supplier, we wouldn't have needed to find a new one.

  6. If I need to stay late in the office today, I will go home early on Friday.

  7. If there hadn't been flooding near Cologne last year, we wouldn't have needed to move our office location.

  8. If he worked from home every day, he wouldn't need to commute for so long.

  9. If Elon Musk hadn't bought Twitter, their staff wouldn't have left.

  10. If I find a new job soon, I will hand my notice in.

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