I’m having trouble understanding this sentence, the first part in particular, which is “Ist …, ist …”

The full sentence is:

Ist eine Gruppe tot, ist sie auch gefangen und zählt am Ende Punkte für den Gegner, auch ohne dass die Situation bis zum endgültigen Schlagen ausgespielt werden muss.

As far as I understand, this can be translated as:

If a group is dead, it is also trapped and gives points to the opponent in the end, but otherwise the situation has to be played until the final capture.

But the first part of my translation is the conditional, and there are no words like wenn in the German variant. And without being certain about the first part, I can’t be sure that I understand the second part and the sentence as a whole.

Is my translation correct?
Is the first part really a conditional?
And also, what does dass refer to in the second part (auch ohne dass …)?

P.S. If it helps, this sentence is from an article about go from the German Wikipedia.

2 Answers 2


The construction is called uneingeleiteter Nebensatz or unintroduced subordinate clause.[1] They can represent both consessive and — you guessed it — conditional clauses. Without having access to statistics, I believe the unintroduced conditional clause to be more common in modern German.

The conditional clause must precede the main clause and its finite verb must be in first position.[2] Both conditions are met in your example:

Ist eine Gruppe tot, ist sie auch gefangen.

It can be rephrased as:

Wenn/Falls eine Gruppe tot ist, ist sie auch gefangen.

As usual, the main clause follows the verb-second rule but remember that the subordinate clause occupies the main clause’s first position. There is no difference in meaning between the two variants, but the unintroduced subordinate clause is higher-register.

Your translation was almost correct, but the last part had problems:

If a group is dead it is also trapped and counts as points for the opponent at the end, even without having to play out the situation up to the final capture.[3]


[1]: Self-translated. There is probably a technical term for it that is likely different, but that I didn’t look up.

[2]: Yes, believe it or not, these sentences (alongside with questions) are the exception to the verb-second rule.

[3]: You should only ask one question, but admittedly the auch ohne dass question is a side-question. Dass — unlike the relative pronoun das — does not require any reference. You can typically equate it to that. Here, it is part of the longer conjunction ohne dass which means without.

  • Wow, thanks a lot for the detailed response! Sorry for asking two questions at once, but I was not sure that the question about the auch ohne dass part was independent from the conditional part. Commented May 13, 2016 at 12:00

Correct translation would be:

If a group is dead, it is also trapped and gives points to the opponent in the end, even without having to play the situation until the final capture.

  • 4
    Hi and welcome to German Language Stack Exchange. Feel free to take a tour of the site. Ideally, your answer should elaborate a bit more as to why the translation is correct and also answer the other questions OP asked.
    – Jan
    Commented May 12, 2016 at 23:55

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.