In my exercise book I stumbled across this phrase, and the explanation of the subject was quite vague.

Ich bin stark, aber ich wäre gern stärker.

I am not quite sure which of the following it means:

  • I am strong, but I would like to be stronger.

  • I am strong, but I would be stronger [if I spent more time in a gym, for example].

I would say that the second version is correct, but it is that gern word that confuses me.

Can I say the same phrase without gern? If I can, how would it sound to a German person? Would there be any difference?


The gern is very important.

Ich bin stark, aber ich wäre gern stärker
I am strong but I would like to be stronger.

Without the gern, the sentence translates to your second example

Ich bin stark, aber ich wäre stärker, wenn [...]
I am strong but I would be stronger, if [...]


The first version is correct.

I am strong but I (gladly) would like to be stronger.


I am strong but I wish I could be stronger

The same prase without "gern" has a different meaning and would need a clause explaining in which case you would be stronger:

Ich bin stark, aber ich wäre stärker, wenn ich nicht so viel netflixen würde.


Ich wär gern bedeutet, dass Du Dir etwas wünschst, das Du im Moment nicht hast, beispielweise: Du bist in der schule, aber Du wärst lieber im Bett geblieben, dann wirst Du sagen:

Oh, ich wär gern im Bett!

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a) Your first translation is roughly correct.

b) Your second translation is not, quite the opposite. gern, in my mind, expresses a wish, but an effortless one. Maybe that's my own character and language use shining through, though. At least it expresses at most reasonable effort; at That it's often followed by conjunctive aber ....

c) I'd suspect an influence of gar, cp. so gern (sehr gern), and sogar (... it's complicated, sogar very complicated). It roughly means total, perfect, complete. I don't know more to say about this. Why -n?

d) Before even opening DWDS/gern I remembered "to yearn for", which appears related. DWDS further mentions "Gier", "Gernegroß", underlining my Ansatz in a).

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