Conditional in German – 1

Hello everyone,

and welcome back to the German is Easy – Grammar Course,  the course that Einstein mentioned in one of his most famous quotes…

“Nothing moves faster than light. But your progress
when you take the German is Easy course comes pretty close.”

Okay, he didn’t say that.
But I’m pretty sure he would have, had he not destroyed the time machine he had built after Schrödinger’s cat had told him what would happen if he didn’t
( find out what Einstein saw, here).
Now you’re probably like  “Ugh… Emanuel is using his intro for shit posting again.” but NO! Not this time. This intro was super on topic because today, we’ll start our mini series about

Conditional in German

What I mean by that are all those phrasing like I would…, If I were you… or I could have had. Super important, useful stuff that we use every day and yet, learners are making lots of mistakes there; even at an advanced level. Which is weird, because the rules are actually pretty simple and straight forward.
In this mini series, we’ll go over all you need to know. And today, we’ll start with a little overview over the topic.
So would you have been ready to must have… uhmm…  had to could have had … uh… been jumped in…. erm… or something?
Great :)

Two things I want to say right off the bat.

Number 1:
Conditional is NOT the “official” name. That would be Konjunktiv II (called subjunctive in English, most of the time), not to be confused with Konjunktiv I which is something entirely different.
But I’m not going to use them because I don’t think they’re helpful. They’re not descriptive and things actually get quite confusing once you look more closely. If you want, I can give you a more detailed explanation in the comments about why I am not using them. Conditional isn’t perfect either, but I think it is at least intuitive and so if you’re familiar with the “normal” terms, please just roll with me.
Keep in mind that this is not meant to be a linguistic analysis. It is a guide for a learner and as such, it doesn’t technically have to be “scientific” – it just needs to work.

Number 2:
Though there are seemingly a lot of similarities between German and English, I will pretty much NEVER compare the two languages. And neither should you – it is a recipe for disaster. Because even though the forms are basically the same in the languages, the usage is vastly different. Like… yes, would and würde are basically soul-brothers but don’t let that fool you into thinking that you can always translate would to würde. 50% of the time that will result in an un-salvageable, unintelligible mess.
It’s really important that we think of the German Conditional as its own thing and learn to build it in German – not take an English sentence and translate the parts. Of course, I will give you the English translations for things but whenever the urge comes to compare… just sit with it and then let it go :).

Cool. And now let’s dive right in with a little overview of what we’re actually talking about

Conditional – what is it

In the intro I already said that it’s the could-should-would-stuff.
The name Conditional is based on the fact that the number one use for this specific marking are conditional statements. 

  • I would give you a cookie  if I had one

But not every conditional statement HAS to have a conditional marking.

  • I will give you a cookie if I have one.

So informing us that there is a condition is NOT the core of the Conditional. But what is it then?
When you look to textbooks, they’ll usually give you a list of what the “Konjunktiv II” (which we call Conditional) is used for an leave it at that. But I think there’s actually a common theme and after weeks and weeks of tedious lab work, CrossFit  and consulting a shaman I was able to put it into words.

The Conditional shifts a statement away from reality.

Nothing more, nothing less. The effect that that shift has, the question how hypothetical and unreal the statement becomes is NOT clearly defined.
Let’s look at a few examples in English and see what effect that shift has in different contexts.

  • I kissed you because you asked.
  • I would have kissed you, if you had asked.
    (I feel like some English speakers would say just “asked” here.
    I’m not arguing that it’s wrong, but what I do argue is that it’s not logical;
    challenge me in the comments ;). 

Here, we’re talking about the past tense and one key feature of the past tense is that it’s fixed. So when you shift a statement away from that line you automatically make it unreal.
Now let’s take this sentence:

  • I will kiss you if you ask.
  • I would kiss you if you asked.

Same statement as before but this time, it is set in the future. And because the future is by its very nature NOT reality yet, but just bunch of options, using the Conditional marker to shift our statement does NOT make it completely unrealistic. I mean… where there’s no fixed real, there’s no fixed unreal, right? So the effect of the shift here is merely making it sound a bit less likely.
One more example:

  • Can you kiss me real quick?
  • Could you kiss me real quick?

This is basically the same question. The only effect using a Conditional marking is making it sound a bit more polite. Which ties in fine with the core idea, actually. You see, shifting the statement (further) away from reality you acknowledge the fact that the other person has a will of their own and might say no. It is less demanding, less “intrusive”.

Cool… so now that we have an idea of the “thing” Conditional in general, let’s get more specific and turn our eye to German.

Conditional in German – a brief Overview

The Conditional in German exists in two tenses: the past and the non-past. Well, technically there also exists a version for the future and maybe another one which I am not aware of, but they’re about as useful as as dandruff.
So, yeah… in practice, there’s past conditional and non-past conditional. The past conditional is used to talk about … Cpt. Obvious, please tell us..
Bro!!! You were supposed to say “The Past”! Gee, you had one job.

It’s sentences like these that most learners are having trouble with, and one of the reasons is that they think they can translate directly from English.  Have I mentioned that you can’t, yet? Well… you still can’t :).
Cool. Now, the non-past conditional talks about stuff that is NOT in the past… so either the present or the future. 

For the non-past conditional, there are actually TWO versions for every verb.  Let’s call them würde-conditional and real condition. Here’s an example. 

  • Ich würde gerne wissen, wieviel Maria wiegt. (würde-conditional)
  • Ich wüsste gerne, wieviel Maria wiegt.  (real conditional)
    (I’d like to know how much Maria weighs.)

Now, wissen is one of the verbs that actually uses both forms, but for most of the verbs, only one will sound idiomatic. Most of the verbs use the würde-conditional but the few that do use the other version are incredibly important and common… haben, sein, the modal verbs, gehen, sehen and a few more.
And if all this made you go like “Hmmm…. that sounds familiar.”
Well, that’s because it is. It is the exact same setup as for the past tense in German, with spoken past and written past
(if you don’t know about that stuff, you should check out my series on past tense. Link below). 

Cool. So now you have an overview and what we need to do in this series is basically this:

  1. learn how to build the würde-conditional
  2. learn how to build the real conditional
  3. train to use them (when)
  4. learn how to build the past conditional
  5. get frustrated over certain aspects of the past conditional
  6. pull ourselves together and own the shit of the past conditional

If that doesn’t sound like a plan then I don’t know what does.
And because the würde-conditional is SO  easy to build and we have a bit of time left, we’ll talk about that real quick.

How to build the würde-conditional

The würde-conditional is what we’ll need for the vast majority of the verbs (about 98.6573% to give you a precise guess).
It is called würde-conditional because it is built with the help of würde… or würden or würdest and so on.
What is this würde-thing?
Well, it’s actually the real conditional form of werden. To give you a bit of background… the würde-conditional is actually derived from the German tense nobody uses… the future. And it’s the same in English. There, the future is signaled by the helper verb will and the conditional is often marked by would... which is a form of will.
Yeah… I know it looks differently but I’m totally not comparing, here. #nocomparison 

Anyway, so yeah… to build the würde-conditional of a sentence, all we need to do is take würde, add the proper ending and put it into the verb position. And the verb that describes the action gets dictionary form. Sounds WAY less clear than it actually is, so let’s just look at an example. This…

becomes this…

Easy, right? RIGHT?!?!?!
It’s basically the same structure as the future tense…. oh… wait, nobody cares about that.
It’s basically the same structure as if we were using a modal verb.

  • Ich würde um 6 in den Park gehen.
  • Ich kann um 6 in den Park gehen.

Do you see? It is the exact same sentence structure and the only difference is würde. Now, for completion let’s also do an example with a “all verbs at the end”-sentence and a question.

And now it’s your turn.
“WHAT?! Already?!?!?!”
Yes, already :). We’ll use my patented method of Learnacise®…. learning by exercise (@Harvard:  I’m still open to sharing this system, but you need to up your offer for my method).
I’ll give you a 10 German sentences and you have to put the green verb into würde-conditional.
The solutions are in the audio, and also in yellow font color. Just mark it to see it (I know this is not the best system, I’m looking for a better solution. Code suggestions are welcome :).

  1. Ich gehe im Park joggen.
    Ich würde im Park joggen gehen.
    (I would go running in the park.)

  2. Maria trinkt gerne Wein.
    Maria würde gerne Wein trinken.
    Maria would like to drink wine.

  3. Kommst du morgen zu mir?
    Würdest du morgen zu mir kommen?
    (Would you come to my place tomorrow?)

  4. Wann kommst du morgen zu mir?
    Wann würdest du morgen zu mir kommen?
    (When would you be coming to my place tomorrow?)

  5. Ich freue mich, dich zu sehen.
    Ich würde mich freuen, dich zu sehen.
    (I’d be happy to see you.)

  6. Wie lange dauert das?
    Wie lange würde das dauern?
    (How long would that take?)

  7. Fährst du mit dem Fahrrad, wenn es nicht regnet?
    Würdest du mit dem Fahrrad fahren, wenn es nicht regnen würde?
    (Would you go by bike if it weren’t raining?)

  8. Ich kaufe mir das Buch, wenn es nicht so viel kostet.
    Ich würde mir das Buch kaufen, wenn es nicht so viel kosten würde.
    (I would buy the book if it weren’t costing that much.)

  9. Ich sage ihr, was ich denke.
    Ich würde ihr sagen, was ich denke.
    (I would tell her what I’m thinking.)

  10. Thomas isst einen Burger, wenn Maria es ihm erlaubt.
    Thomas würde einen Burger essen, wenn Maria es ihm erlauben würde.
    (Thomas would eat a burger, if Maria would allow it.)

And, how did you do?? If you did have problems with any of these, please share in the comments, and we’ll clear it all up.
Now, this was really just a small, technical exercise so you get to train the form of the würde-conditional. We’ll do a really big, more challenging one, as well,  but we need to talk about the real conditional first.
Which is what we’ll do next time :).

So, that’s it for today. This was our little introduction in the world of Conditional in general and the würde-conditional in particular.
Here’s a super brief recap:

  • “Conditional” is a marking that shifts a statement away from the line of reality
  • We call it Conditional because the “official” names suck (let’s meet in the comments if you disagree ;)
  • The exact effect of that shift depends on context
  • Conditional can be built for the past and the non-past
  • For the non-past, every verb has two versions of it, würde-conditional and real conditional
  • Which version is used depends on what’s idiomatic for the verb

As always, if you have any questions about any of this so far or if you want to complain that I’m not using the official names, just leave me a comment.
I hope you liked it and see you next time.

If you’re still fit, you can continue right with part two:

Conditional in German 2 – The Real Conditional

Further reading:

for members :)

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Top post Emanuel! Been waiting for this one. Can’t wait for the next. I think I’ve plugged them before but may I just recommend the University of Michigan’s excellent page on this topic?

I must have read that 10 times and done all the exercises and I still struggle to put together a subordinate clause in modal past subjunctive. …hätte werden können? …hätte können werden? I’ll get there one day. Cheers!


I will come back to read this soon ( and by soon I mean bald-soon :P ) cuz I still got some grammar stuff to learn and some other stuff to practice. But I had to say “YES” to conditional!
Your grammar miniseries are the best there can be. And I can’t imagine learning this “cute” topic anywhere else.


– I kissed you because you asked.
– I would have kissed you, if I had asked. [Should be “if you had asked,” right?]
(I feel like some English speakers would say just “asked” here.
I’m not arguing that it’s wrong, but what I do argue is that it’s not logical;
challenge me in the comments ;).

I don’t think anybody would say “if you asked” for a past conditional – maybe the d in “if you’d asked” is sometimes hard to hear.

That said, you could say “I’d kiss you if you asked.” That’s really just like “Ich würde dich küssen, wenn du mich darum bitten würdest”, just using a “real conditional” form, which happens to be identical to the simple past (unlike “wenn du bätest” :D). You could also say “if you’d/you would ask,” with slight nuances of what the meaning would sound like, at least to me.

One correction: “The Conditional shifts a statement away FROM reality.” I hope that’s not too picky, but I honestly think it sounds wrong enough to be a little confusing when you use “of” instead of “from.”

This isn’t a correction, but it really does illustrate the translation challenges of what you’re doing:

– Ich gehe um 6 in den Park.
– I will go to the park at 6.

This is interesting to me, because the most normal, idiomatic, and at the same time literal translation here would be “I’m going to the park at 6.” That said, it does seem like you need to be a native or at least very proficient speaker of one or both languages to realize immediately that the meaning of both is future, so it makes sense that you used “will go.” Just one of those decisions I’m glad you have to make instead of me. :)

lost in desert
lost in desert

Great post and good points here in the comments!

I would add that “beauty” (noun) drops the “y” and becomes beautIful when you make it an adjective. It seems there are other English -y nouns that do this as well although I can’t seem to think of one, and it’s honestly too damn hot here right now to look them up (pushing 50 C)! LOL

Also, I would offer that the “hätte werden können” concept was difficult to put into practice in English (“would have been able to”, etc.) when I learned it in elementary school as well. (It’s just a difficult piece of grammar in most languages I imagine.) Perhaps most native English speakers have forgotten that the subjunctive is complicated in our native language too, and it may give fits to the best of students as they learn it. In fact, even simple usage of conditional verbs seems to be disappearing in US English (to my personal annoyance, but I digress). “If I was millionaire….” –but you aren’t, so it is conditional! “If I were….”

Finally, not to be too picky, but shouldn’t this:

“If X was the case, then Y would be the case”

be this:

“If X WERE the case, then Y would be the case” where both statements are conditional? It seems that X is NOT the case, so it would also take a conditional verb in English. English majors help me out, please!


But hey: did you notice that it’s sort of the exact same kind of undefined in English, too? Read it again: “I’m going to the park”…(so far, your point seems to stand; this is a statement of present action”) …”at 6″. Wait just a minute!

Is it 6 right now? No? Then in English it’s also a future-tense statement. “I’m going to the park at 6 [want to come along?].”

In fact, I’ll venture to say that in English “I’m x-ing” is often, in context, clearly understood to be a future tense. If you were standing at the bar having a drink with a friend and he suddenly said “I’m getting married”, would you look at him like he’s lost his mind and say “uh, no, you’re having a drink with me in this bar”? At least, I hope you wouldn’t ;-)


Yeah, when I did a TEFL certification, we were taught to teach this as one of the various options for future in English. It’s helpful to think of it as expressing plans or intent. The present progressive by itself is ambiguous, but if you stick a time reference in there, it’s obviously future.

That also tends to be pretty clear depending on the verb; the phrase “get married” most naturally describes an event in its entirety, rather than an action that can be ongoing, so “I’m getting married” sounds future unless you qualify it (“Sorry bro, can’t talk, I’m getting married right now”). I think “go” is really the same way – it tends to describe the whole process of proceeding from one location to another, so “I’m going to _____” tends to sound future. Of course, if it’s “I’m going 80 km/h” or “I’m going northeast,” it sounds present, since those qualifiers clarify that you’re talking about ongoing action. Something like “I’m riding my bike to the park” is a little more ambiguous without any further context or qualification.


when you say i am going to the park at 6? that is future.. then if already 6 as you said then you must adjust 1 hr more to get in to the future.. then say 7

Francesca Greenoak
Francesca Greenoak

There is a slight difference in meaning in English between
I would have kissed you had you asked.
I would have kissed you if you asked.

The first sounds further back in time – and a bit more formal. Its more elegant to drop the if and invert the verb.

The second sounds recent, perhaps just a few minutes ago.

I like your explanations. I was getting muddled with the conditional, subjunctive, Konjunktiv 2 stuff.
Now, I’m beginning to think German is more precise with its – woulds.
All best


Really, constructing würde sentences is the same as modal sentences? That seems too good to me true! I can´t wait for the next part. As for I would have kissed you, if I had asked. Possibly you meant – if you had asked – but anyway, leaving out the `had` doesn´t sound right to me either, and I´m not sure if I have ever heard anyone leave it out. On a high note, I was able to read the intro without using the translation at all today, so thanks for all your hard work…it is paying off for me :-)


Awesome article and the exercises were super helpful too. One question. In English, we could (or ‘can’! see, it never ends) say either:

Would (conditional) you ride your bike, if it doesn’t rain?

– or –

Will (future) you ride your bike, if it doesn’t rain?

…when asking about the future. Would this be the conditional in German? (Apologies if you addressed this and I missed it!)


“Würdest du das Buch kaufen?”
“Ja, wenn es nicht so viel kosten würde.”
“Would you buy the book?”
“Yes, if it weren’t costing that much.”

native english speakers would not say ‘weren’t costing that much…’
instead we would say, ‘if it didn’t cost that much.’

also, we wouldn’t say ‘I’d like to know how much Maria is weighing’ instead it would be: ‘i’d like to know how much maria weighs…’

sorry to be nit-picky. great posts, in any case!


GREAT! As usual! The Konjunktiv II jungle was killing me.

If I were to to a pastiche of Emanual’s blog, I would write:
Wenn ich eine Persiflage von Emanuels Blog schreiben würde, würde ich schreiben:

A simple way to construct Present Simple, 3rd Person Singular:

Example from Emanual’s blog on Konjuktiv II/Conditional/Could-should-would: (I’d like to know how much Maria is weighing)

Sollte “I’d like to know how much Maria WEIGHS.” sein.

(Hold onto your hats for the Pastiche Part, here it comes…)

To form the 3rd person singular in Simple Present, take the “S” from “is”, put it at the end of the verb and discard the rest. This will give you:

I’d like to know how much Maria WEIGHS.

See, it’s easy. Even a unicorn could do it.


Eine Frage:

Thomas isst einen Burger, wenn Maria es ihm erlaubt.
Thomas würde einen Burger essen, wenn Maria es ihm erlauben würde.
(Thomas would eat a burger, if Maria would allow it.)

“Erlaubt” wasn’t green, so I didn’t whomp it with “Würde”. Could one express the sentence above without putting the “erlaubt” in Konjunktiv II?

Thomas würde einen Burger essen, wenn Maria es ihm erlaubt.

Thomas would eat a burger if Maria allowed it. Idiomatic English, in my opinion. What say the other native-Englisch speakers? Does it work auf Deutsch?


The thing is, as written, it says “Thomas would eat a burger if Maria allows it,” which doesn’t work (at least for me).

Technically, you could use the form “erlaubte” for the Konjunktiv, which (just like in English) is identical with the written past. But in both languages, it’s idiomatic because it’s actually subjunctive.


Can I (could I) have a stab at the “asked/had asked” poser? My view is that “asked” on it’s own can signify either simple past indicative (which by itself sounds wrong next to an “if”) or else non-past subjunctive. This would create a mismatch of either mood or tense with the the “would have asked” in the main clause which is in past subjunctive.

Can I also just mention Maria and what she is weighing? Weighing as a dynamic activity requiring progressive aspect does not apply to what the weight of someone or something is, which would be stative.

“I’d like to know how much Maria weighs”.

I can think of two contexts for the dynamic “weigh”: recording the weight of something or someone; and being a burden (with a suitable preposition like down or on).

“The nurse is just weighing the patient doctor”

“Maria is weighing herself in the bathroom”

“These stones in my pocket are really weighing me down.”

“It’s been weighing on my mind”.

I can see that progressive must be quite a minefield for a non native speaker. McDonalds don’t help much either with their “I’m loving it” nonsense.


aoind: I don’t know if you can, but you MAY! Haha! HOW many times have we heard THAT through our grade-school years?

So, Question to Emanuel:

Do we preferably use “Darf ich” auf Deutsch or would we use the “Könnte ich”? (in the context of aoind’s opening line, “Can I, (could I) have a stab at…” Proper English would be, “May I take a stab…”)


Just like to amend me previous statement about past indicative sounding wrong after an “if”. It is possible in some circumstances and the one I’m thinking of is the “grudging admission”, like “if I did, it was only because you told me to”. There must be many others.


Lol meinst du nicht, ich liebe es? McDonald’s, da würde ich gern bleiben, falls ich genug Geld hätte. Emanuel, wir leben es. Number 10 killed me, I didn’t put the würde there either cos it was missing on the English bit. Didn’t sound odd to me either but should it have? The rest of the examples I absolutely owned them just like you promised. And yes I read your intro today without looking at the translation and was like “hell Ye i love this shiat”

Mach doch mit das Buch Shon. – did that sound like finish that book already? It did in my head. Natives , assemble.

Random language learner
Random language learner

Ich glaube, das ist mein allererste Kommentar!

Code suggestion : wrapping div with a class in html, and with css .{ background-color: black; } .:hover{ background-color: transparent; }

Gern geschehen :) Kann ich jetzt eine kostenlose Mitgliedshaft erhalten? :P

Es wäre übrigens meiner Meinung nach viel besser wenn das Feld zum Kommentar hinzufügen oben wäre. So braucht man dazu nicht ewig zu scrollen. Es ist ja nur ein Vorschlag.


I’m so glad I found your website. Great posts. A few thoughts:

– To hide the answers, color the font black and highlight the words black, to make people have to “select” the text to turn it white and read the answer.
– You used a few gerunds in English where the infinitive would have been better :) “Maria is weighing” > “Maria weighs”, and “if it weren’t costing” > “if it didn’t cost”.

Keep it up, I’m learning tons!


Yes, that could work, or perhaps even just color it white, because the default background color for most browsers should be white? Then, again, you’d just have to highlight it to read it.


Have to agree that “The Conditional shifts a statement away of reality.” should be “The Conditional shifts a statement away from reality.” or perhaps “The Conditional makes a statement about an alternate reality.”


Sehr gut geschrieben, aber, ich kann es nicht lesen.. Die gelbe Farbe verbrent meine Augen. Vielleicht rote
farbe wäre besser gewesen?




Hello all, Thanks to everyone who sponsored me. My name is Ravi and I’m a student in Germany. I should really appreciate the time, effort and help Emanuel is doing here. It is wonderful to explain a new language the way she does here with examples. I’m really happy that now I have this opportunity as full member to read each article. Thank you so much. Will be waiting for more posts.


The way HE does. Emanuel is a dude bro.

Akshay Ganesh

Hi All, Thank you for sponsoring me.My name is Akshay and I am learning Deutsch in interest that it will come handy when my aspiration to study in Germany comes true.Kudos to Emanuel and team.
@Emanuel i like your mail id :)


I would have kissed you if you had asked.
This is definitely the correct way to talk about a one-time conditional event that occurred in the past. I think you are correct, however, that there is some flexibility with this in colloquial English (at least among some speakers). I’m not sure what the reason is, but I think it has partly to do with the fact that conjunctive and past tense often look the same, which leads to confusion.

1. If I had had the ingredients (yesterday), I would have baked a cake. CORRECT
2. If I had the ingredients (right now), I would bake a cake. CORRECT (Presumably, I do not have the ingredients.)
3. If I had the ingredients (yesterday), I would have baked a cake. WRONG(?), but wouldn’t sound _so_ wrong to me in conversation.

I am not enough of a language expert to say whether #3 is considered “wrong” or an “acceptable alternative”, but I do think a lot of native speakers would say this because repeating “had had” twice in a row might feel awkward, and because it is clear from the second clause that the event occurred in the past.

Ich habe eine Frage für dich über Deutsch. Ich mache immer (glaube ich) Fehler wegen der “Würde-“ und “Real-Conditionals“, wie du sie nennt. Manchmal übersetze ich direkt aus Englisch, indem ich den “Real-Conditional“ in “Wenn-Sätze“ benutze und den “Würde-Conditional“ in “Folge-Sätze“ benutze. (Es ist auf Englisch ja tief eingeprägt, dass “if I were…” und “then I would…” von Grammatik und Bedeutung aus, zwei völlig unterschiedlichen Sachen sind.) Ich habe mehrere Grammatik-Bücher zu diesem Thema gelesen, die nicht miteinander stimmen. Manche meinen, man soll “Real-Conditional“ nur bei einigen häufigen Verben (haben, sein, werden, usw.) benutzen. Andere meinen, man soll “Real-Conditional“ nur bei den häufigen Verben sowie schwachen Verben benutzen. Andere meinen, “Real-Conditional” soll nur bei starken Verben benutzt werden, weil er bei schwachen Verben mit Präteritum verwirrt wird. Noch anderen meinen, dass die englische Regel auch auf Deutsch elegant ist. Persönlich habe ich bemerkt, dass meine Kollegen es nicht merken, wenn ich “Real-Conditional” mit schwachen Verben benutze. Im Gegenteil, bekomme ich erhöhte Stirnrunzeln, wenn ich “Real-Conditional” auf gesprochenes Deutch mit Stark-Verben benutze. (z.B., bei “Wenn ich das äße, würde mir übel”.) Was meinst du dazu? (Korrektur zu meinem Deutsch ist auch in Ordnung!)




Francesca Greenoak

Brilliant concise reply to Barratt query.
I am working through the German part part of his comment but he has noted a shift in spoken English. Very few British people nowadays use the the pluperfect (I had xxx) even on the BBC, preferring the simple past.

Had had – is clunky but correct other forms are easy – had or ‘d. I had done this or if I had done this. If I would have done this – is reserved for subordinate clauses.
Language changes, sure, but here an important distinction of the order in which things happened is being lost.
German as far as I can see articulates in a different way (which is why it is difficult for Germans learning English). We have to really think ourselves into the culture of the language we are learning. It’s not just rules; it is the language floating on an ocean of history and art.