Is würde in the correct position in this sentence:

Ein Fetzen war über seinen Mund gebunden worden, damit er ihn nicht würde schreien hören.

or should it be at the end:

Ein Fetzen war über seinen Mund gebunden worden, damit er ihn nicht schreien hören würde.

And why, please?

1 Answer 1


Both variants are correct.

No. 1 with 'würde' leading has the upside that it eases comprehension, plus it sounds a bit more poetic at least to my ears.

Note however that there is a referrence problem with 'er': as is, this 'er' refers to the same person that 'seinen' does.

Also, 'war gebunden worden' is technically correct, but unusual; 'wurde gebunden' was your choice when simply reporting. EDIT: I shouldn't call it unusual, rather: wheter 'war gebunden worden' is correct or not depends on the context in which this information is given; namely, is it placed with a review?

Lastly, when replacing 'er' by the person who gagged the poor guy, 'müssen' looks to be the correct modality.

Ein Fetzen war über seinen Mund gebunden worden, damit der Entführer ihn nicht würde schreien hören müssen.

  • "... der Entführer ihn nicht schreien hören müsse". Das 'würde' ist dann überflüssig. Commented May 18, 2022 at 16:49
  • It may be of interest, that 2 native German speakers, born and educated through university level in Germany, for this English sentence, "and a rag was bound over his mouth so that the troll would not hear him scream," provided the following translation: "und ein Fetzen war über seinen Mund gebunden, damit der Troll ihn nicht würde schreien hören." And they insisted that this was the only correct placement for würde. I can only conclude that German is an exceptionally difficult language to master.
    – user44591
    Commented May 18, 2022 at 17:59
  • 1
    Did in fact ask about the dismissal of 'worden' as to refer to the state and not the action leading up to that state, conclusion: both are fine. However, we did not have the english original, which may well have influenced your two sources. Also, the modality I suggested with 'müssen' (which is in fact fine despite the veto) would likely not have come up when translating.
    – starrin
    Commented May 18, 2022 at 18:11

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