I’d like to know the differences between als and wenn when I want to talk about an specific time.

When should I use them?

In what situations would one of them be nonsense?

4 Answers 4

  • als
    is only used for single events in the past.

    Als ich noch jung war, …
    Als ich letztes Mal in Berlin war, …
    Als ich mich in deinen Vater verliebte, …
    Als es noch Dinosaurier gab, … (this could be a really long time)

  • wenn
    is used for repeated events in the past

    Immer wenn ich ihn besuchte, …
    Jedes Mal, wenn wir zusammen waren, …

  • For present and future always use wenn

  • 1
    But be careful when you use the phrase 'wann auch immer' ! Despite being 'temporal' this expression is using 'wann' instead of 'wenn' ;-)
    – mramosch
    Sep 15, 2015 at 15:36


Gestern, als wir uns trafen.
Morgen, wenn wir uns wiedersehen.

Only use als to specify events in the past, and wenn for future events.

  • Oder: "Wenn es drei Uhr ist, machen wir Feierabend!" "Als es halb drei war, machten wir Feierabend." Kleine Ergänzung, Gegenwart: "Ist nicht schon Feierabend?" "Wenn es drei Uhr ist könnt Ihr natürlich Schluss machen.". Feb 8, 2017 at 0:43

I would translate "als" as "when," and "wenn" as "whenever."

As another poster pointed out, "als" is for single or "discrete" occurences of an event, and "wenn" is for multiple, repeated, or continuous occurrences, hence the use of "whenever."


sooooo easy we use (wenn) when something often happened - Die Frau hat immer angst , wenn sie das Haus verlässt .

we use (als) for something happened for one time . - als wir nach Wien fahren wollten , haben wir das Flugzeug verpasst .

  • 5
    Welcome to german.se! Even though your answer seems correct to me, it does not seem to add new information, as the accepted answer from almost three years ago already states the same. The chance of receiving up-votes for it are slight, at best. - Maybe you'd like to take a look at our unanswered questions or ask a question yourself. Jan 10, 2017 at 8:19

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