I have a problem with a customer who I sell Couches to. He wrote:

hätten wir die 5 Sofa nicht lassen können für die Auslieferung am Montag?

Now I have understood that:

We leave the delivery of the 5 couches out and we don't do it for Monday

My Customer meant:

We leave the delivery of the 5 couches as it is planned, so we do it for Monday.

Now I feel that the sentence could mean both. Are the 2 translations possible in this way or is one definitely more correct than the other?

  • 2
    Yes, it is ambiguous. Commented Mar 5, 2020 at 11:23
  • "We leave it for Monday" or "We leave it on Monday". As stated "... für Monat ..." I too would have interpreted just like your customer did. "Wir lassen es am Montag" is closer to the second variant. Lessons learned, doublecheck next time :-)
    – user41853
    Commented Mar 5, 2020 at 11:40
  • 1
    A non-ambiguous way would have been to say "Wir belassen es am Montag". Commented Mar 5, 2020 at 12:51
  • This completely depends on the context of your situation. Something has happened but your customer now tells you it should have been differently. Did you only discuss and decide what should happen to the couches on next monday? Or did you already deliver or not deliver those five couches? Knowing that leads to what the question means.
    – puck
    Commented Mar 6, 2020 at 5:13

1 Answer 1


The meaning of "lassen" in your given example I understand mainly as Keep it that way what was agreed beforehand. Or in another expression darauf verzichten, etwas zu tun. Like "5." on DWDS: etwas nicht tun.

So while hätten etwas lassen können conjunctive is, it does not always imply that the requested action already happened. It can also mean: you started a discussion to change plans and one of this changes is questioned during the discussion.

The problem aka multiple translations occur due to the multiple understanding of the people involved - what they think are the different stages of changed agreements. As I experience in discussions that I sometimes miss a step in between and then I mean something different compared to my partner.

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