Aber als / wenn wir wieder in Berlin waren


Senior Member
American English
Als ich zwölf war, lebten wir in Berlin. Im Sommer 1988 besuchten wir meinen
Großvater in Schleswig-Holstein. Er war Bauer und hatte ein wunderschönes Pferd. Jeden
Morgen, wenn wir im Stall fertig waren, durfte ich auf diesem Pferd reiten. Mein
kleiner Bruder hatte Angst vor Pferden. Jedes Mal, wenn Großvater das Pferd aus
dem Stall holte, rannte er ins Haus. Aber ____ wir wieder in Berlin waren, sagte
er zu seinen Freunden: »Als ich bei meinem Opa in Schleswig-Holstein war, habe ich sogar
reiten gelernt.«

I've filled in some of the blanks for this exercise. (There used to be blanks everywhere where you see either of the words als or wenn.) I don't know whether or not to put wenn or als in the remaining blank. I think I ought to put als there, but the answer key says wenn for some reason. Which is correct? As far as I can tell, the sentence talks about a single trip made back to Berlin.
  • bearded

    Senior Member
    I'm replying as a non-native speaker. In the case of your 'blank', I would use 'als', and I'll try to explain why:
    Each year, we lived three months in Berlin and 9 months in Hamburg. When (=whenever) we were in Berlin, this and this happened. Here the use of 'wenn' would be correct.
    We had moved to Hamburg, but after some years we returned to Berlin. When we were in Berlin again, this and this happened. Here I would use 'als', and the example is as in your question.


    German (Austria)
    Yeah, the answer key is wrong. It has to be "als" here because it's a one time thing. If they went to their grandpa's every year and their brother said that every time they got back, then it would have to be "wenn". There's no repetition, though, so it has to be "als".
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