If I had understood the question, I would have given a good answer

< Previous | Next >

Namakemono

Senior Member
Español, gallego (España)
Hallo, I need some help constructing complex sentences that involve conditionals and complex verbs. Can you correct this sentence and tell me if there are other possible structures?

If I had understood the question, I would have given a good answer.

Wenn ich hatte die Frage verstanden, würde ich eine gute Antwort geben können (gekonnt?).
 
  • Acrolect

    Senior Member
    German, Austria
    Wenn ich hatte die Frage verstanden, würde ich eine gute Antwort geben können (gekonnt?).
    Wenn ich die Frage verstanden hätte, hätte ich eine gute Antwort geben können.

    The problems in your version:
    The finite form normally comes last in subordinate clauses (such as conditional clauses) and haben should be in the subjunctive (hätte).
    The main clause is grammatically correct (even though könnte ich eine gute Antwort geben is stylstically better), but it does not correspond to your English version but rather to I could give a good answer/I would be able to give a good answer (hypothetical, but not irrealis).

    In this particular case, the conditional clause can also be formed with inversion (similar to English).

    Hätte ich die Frage verstanden, hätte ich eine gute Antwort geben können.
     

    starrynightrhone

    Senior Member
    Austria, German
    Hallo, I need some help constructing complex sentences that involve conditionals and complex verbs. Can you correct this sentence and tell me if there are other possible structures?

    If I had understood the question, I would have given a good answer.

    Wenn ich hatte die Frage verstanden hätte, hätte würde ich eine gute Antwort gegeben geben können (gekonnt?)
    Hello Namakemono,
    you just had a little problem with the correct tense in the second part of the sentence. "Würde" refers to the future, but according to the English model a past tense was needed.
     

    Acrolect

    Senior Member
    German, Austria
    Would this also work:

    Hätte ich die Frage verstanden, würde ich eine gute Antwort geben können.

    ?
    Yes (though the version with könnte ich eine gute Antwort geben, as mentioned above, is better). But it means something different (If I had understood the question, I would be able to give a good answer)

    Hätte ich die Frage verstanden, hätte ich eine gute Antwort geben können.

    You did not understand the question in the past, so you were not able to give a good answer in the past.

    Hätte ich die Frage verstanden, könnte ich eine gute Antwort geben.

    You did not understand the question in the past, so you are not able to give a good answer in the present (or future).
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top