hätte gelehrt / würde gelehrt haben

Discussion in 'Deutsch (German)' started by popotla, Mar 15, 2013.

  1. popotla Senior Member

    British English
    Would both the following sentences be correct, or only one of them (or neither)?

    1. Wenn er nach China nicht gefahren wäre, hätte er an der Universität XYZ nicht gelehrt.
    2. Wenn er nach China nicht gefahren wäre, würde er an der Universität XYZ nicht gelehrt haben.

    Since my German is poor, there could well be mistakes (too) in “the detail“ but what I’m getting at is whether there’s a difference between hätte er ...... nicht gelehrt and würde er ...... nicht gelehrt haben.

    The idea would be expressed in English as „If he had not travelled to China (which he, in fact, did) he would not have taught at XYZ University (which he, in fact, did but is no longer doing.)

    A further, parallel example would be:

    Wenn mein Freund in Oman nicht gewesen wäre, wäre er bei einem Verkehrsunfall nicht gestorben.
    Wenn mein Freund in Oman nicht gewesen wäre, würde er bei einem Verkehrsunfall nicht gestorben sein.

    (If my friend hadn’t been in Oman, he wouldn’t have died (there) in a road accident.)
     
  2. Robocop Senior Member

    Central Switzerland
    (Swiss) German
    1. Wenn er nicht nach China gefahren wäre, hätte er [auch] nicht an der Universität XYZ gelehrt.
    2. Wenn er nicht nach China gefahren wäre, würde er [auch] nicht an der Universität XYZ gelehrt haben.
    Both statements are correct.
     
  3. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    After applying Robocop's corrections, both sentences are fine and mean the same. Contrary to English, German does not distinguish between past subjunctive and conditional. The forms are completely interchangeable. The difference is just stylistic. E.g. Wenn er nach China nicht gefahren sein würde compared to Wenn er nach China nicht gefahren wäre sounds clumsy and is therefore its discouraged in written language but semantically there is no difference.
     
  4. popotla Senior Member

    British English
    Thank you. In both my "China" examples, I put my "nicht" before the verbs. Robocop moved "nicht" to before China and to before "an der Universität". Is the position of "nicht" optional, or definitely wrong where I put it?
     
  5. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    Nicht has to be put in front of what you want to negate. In this case you want to negate nach China fahren and not only fahren. In other words, the way you you placed nicht, you didn't negate that he went to China but only how he went to China. Here is an example where such a placement would make sense: Wenn er nach China nicht gefahren sondern geflogen wäre, dann wäre er dort viel früher angekommen.
     

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