Wenn vs. als in German

Understanding grammar is key to understanding a language.
German grammar tips with Wunderbla, online German lessons.

Free with no obligation to buy.

Wenn vs. als

In the past:

  • Wenn (when, whenever) → for a repeated event (always, each time…)

Immer, wenn Betty müde war, hat sie auf der Terrasse geschlafen.

Whenever Betty was tired she slept on the terrace.

  • Als (when) → for a one-off event in the past

Als Magda neu nach Berlin kam, kannte sie keinen Menschen.

When Magda first came to Berlin she did not know anyone.

In the present and future, we always use wenn (whenever, when, if), not als.

Immer, wenn es regnet, bleiben alle im Hotel.

Whenever it rains, everybody stays in the hotel.

Jedes Mal, wenn er kommen wird, werden wir feiern.

Whenever he comes, we will celebrate.

Melde dich, wenn du Zeit hast.

Call me if you have time.

Note: If wenn or als are at the start of a subsidiary clause, the verb comes at the end of the subsidiary clause:

Als Anna ein Kind war, lebte sie im Brandenbutt Hotel.

When Anna was a child, she lived in the Brandenbutt Hotel.

Still facing difficulties with 'Wenn vs. als'? Improve your German with Wunderbla - try our German lessons for free now and receive a free level assessment!

What our users say:



I enjoy doing my online German lessons. Only ten minutes daily are enough...Thank you!



I love your innovative method which allows me to learn a new language and have fun at the same time!



Your method is unique! Your courses have helped me to progress and gain confidence during my travels.



Gymglish has allowed me to improve my German. A daily routine I wouldn't miss for anything in the world!

More testimonials.

Improve your German further and test Wunderbla, online German lessons.