"Gundula, what do you think about the seventh statement on the list? 'A manager should always comment on an employee's personal appearance?'"
Gundula thinks for a second.
"Well, when it is a woman, yes, she should, but when it is a man, no he shouldn't", she says.
"When it is a woman?" I question, images running through my head.
"Yes, but only when it is a woman. When it is a man, he shouldn't".
We had already discussed equal opportunity employers, but this was a very interesting concept! A boss who sometimes came to work as a man and sometimes came as a woman. I started thinking how this could work...maybe 'it' decided spontaneously when getting up in the morning. Maybe 'it' was female Monday to Wednesday and male on Thursday and Friday. This person could have an ambiguous first name like Ashley, but how did it deal with the German convention of using 'Mr' and 'Ms' at work instead of first names.
"Ms Martin? Ms Martin?"
She meant 'if', of course. Both 'if' and 'when' are translated by the German word 'wenn'. In English, though, 'when' is connected to a time. If you ask 'when' something will happen, you are asking for a time. If you say 'when it is a woman', you are talking about a specific situation.
If, however, you want to talk about an option or a hypothetical situation, please use if!