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I understand that the forms "als ob..." and "als wenn..." are grammatically used in the same way. But are they completely interchangeable? What is their difference?

For example, are both of the following correct? Do they sound different?

Er tut immer so, als ob er Chef wäre.

and

Er tut immer so, als wenn er Chef wäre.

I am not sure that my "als wenn" example is correct.

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  • The alternative whith "als wenn" is colloquial, and maybe not compretely correct. A correct alternative would be "Er tut immer so, als wäre er Chef"
    – Beta
    Mar 3 '17 at 12:08
  • I think it's like in English ("as if" vs "as though"). It's just a matter of prevalence. Both are correct, "als ob" is more common.
    – Em1
    Mar 3 '17 at 12:15
  • @Beta: I can't find much about "als wenn" online but my course book suggests that the verb goes to the end. I am not sure about the tense though.
    – MakisH
    Mar 3 '17 at 12:19
  • @Em1: I mainly wonder because there is a difference between "ob" and "wenn" themselves, but they seem the same when combined with "als +".
    – MakisH
    Mar 3 '17 at 12:19
  • 1
    "if" and "though" in English are also quite different. But with "as" combined, they've got a common meaning.
    – Em1
    Mar 3 '17 at 13:53
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Yes, both versions are (grammatically) correct according to the Duden:

In irrealen Vergleichssätzen mit als ob, als wenn und wie wenn wird sowohl der Konjunktiv I als auch der Konjunktiv II verwendet [...]

Both versions mean the same and can be used that way.

– Nonetheless, to me, as native speaker, the second sentence with als wenn sounds a little off and I would prefer the one with als ob, especially if the sentence is accompanied with an expression of disapproval.

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  • Is maybe "als wenn" better e.g. in the context of a theater play and imperative, e.g. "Do as if you were in the war"?
    – MakisH
    Mar 3 '17 at 12:24
  • No, in the case of "pretend","imitate", etc. there is the fixed expression "so tun, als ob". – I would stick to "als ob"! ;)
    – mgoni
    Mar 3 '17 at 12:50
  • @MakisH As I stated in a comment above, "als ob" is way more common. Just go with "als ob" all the time. Add "als wenn" to your passive vocabulary.
    – Em1
    Mar 3 '17 at 13:55
  • ...unless you're visiting the southern of Germany where the people like to be grammatically incorrect and the common form is "als wenn" ;-)
    – Celophysis
    Mar 3 '17 at 14:33
  • I am actually learning german in Munich and I use books from a publisher located here! :-D
    – MakisH
    Mar 4 '17 at 11:21

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