What Are The Most Common Conjunctions In German?

And, or and more, in German!
German conjunctions represented by a young woman holding a piece of paper at her desk and showing it to a teacher who's standing over her.

Conjunctions make the difference between saying “I am late to class. My bus was late.” and “I am late to class because my bus was late.” or “I like German grammar. I like their long words.” and “I like German grammar and their long words.” A conjunction can connect words, phrases or clauses, and make your conversation more fluid and understandable. When you’re learning German, you’ll start with short, simple sentences. If you master conjunctions, however, you’ll be able to build up to more complex constructions.

What are the most common conjunctions in German? We assembled this quick guide to German conversational connectors with 20 respective examples. It should be noted that there is not a one-to-one ratio between English and German conjunctions, so there are often multiple uses or translations of a single conjunction.

Coordinating Conjunctions In German

Coordinating conjunctions in German are conjunctions that do not affect the word order of the sentence while connecting words, phrases or clauses.

1. Und — And. Used to connect words, clauses or phrases that belong to the same group.
Example: Ich mag Bananen, Äpfel und Birnen. — I like bananas, apples and pears.

2. Oder — Or. Used to give a choice between words, clauses and phrases.
Example: Gehen wir ins Kino oder schauen wir etwas Zuhause? — Are we going to the movies or are we watching something at home?

3. Aber — But. Used to limit the first clause or describe the opposite.
Example: Wir fahren in die USA, aber nicht nach New York. — We are going to the U.S.A., but not to New York City.

4. Denn — Because. Used to show the reasoning of another clause.
Example: Ich lerne Deutsch, denn ich möchte nach Österreich ziehen. — I am studying German because I want to move to Austria.

5. Beziehungsweise (bzw.) — More precisely. Shows a relationship between two or more things.
Example: Ich lerne drei Sprachen, beziehungsweise Italienisch, Spanisch und Portugiesisch. — I am studying three languages, more precisely Italian, Spanish and Portuguese.

6. Sondern — But. Used to negate the thing in the first clause by the thing after the conjunction.
Example: Er geht nicht gerne ins Fitnessstudio, sondern geht lieber joggen. — He doesn’t like to go to the gym, but rather goes running.

Subordinating Conjunctions In German

Subordinating conjunctions provoke a Nebensatz (subordinate clause) that receives a new word order and more importantly, it cannot stand on its own but always needs a Hauptsatz (main clause). Haupt- and Nebensatz appear after a comma. As mentioned, the sentence structure changes when introduced by a subordinating conjunction. While in German main clauses we always put the verb on the second position, subordinate clauses push the verb to the very back of the sentence:

Conjunction + Subject + Rest + Verb

7. Wenn —  If, when. Used to introduce a conditional clause or for temporal use.
Examples: Ich gehe an den Strand, wenn ich Zeit habe. — I’ll go to the beach if I have time.
Immer wenn ich Sport mache, bin ich entspannt.
When I am doing sports, I am always relaxed.

8. Als — When. Used for temporal sentences in the past.
Example: Als ich klein war, war ich noch blond.When I was young I was still blond.

9. and 10. Weil and da — Because. Used to show the reasoning of another clause.
Example: Ich bin zu spät, weil/da ich meinen Wecker nicht gehört habe. — I am late because I didn’t hear my alarm clock.

11. Dass That. Used to further describe the main clause.
Example: Ich weiß, dass du keine Lust hast. — I know that you are not in the mood.

12. Falls — If. Used to introduce a conditional clause.
Example: Falls du Zeit hast, komm vorbei.If you have time, come by.

13. Ob — If/whether. Used to ask an indirect yes/no-question.
Example: Er will wissen, ob du auch kommst. — He wants to know whether you are coming as well.

14. Obwohl — Although. Used to explain a condition that leads to an unexpected result.
Example: Er hat ein Handy gekauft, obwohl er nicht das Geld hat. — He bought a phone, although he doesn’t have the money.

15. Damit — So. Used to express the goal of an action mentioned in the main clause.
Example: Ich trainiere mehr, damit ich gesünder werde. — I train more so I can get healthier.

16. Bevor — Before. Used to describe what happened after the action in the main clause.
Example: Bevor ich Deutsch lerne, möchte ich erst einmal Spanisch lernen.Before I learn German I want to learn Spanish first.

17. Nachdem — After. Used to describe what happened before the action in the main clause.
Example: Nachdem ich meine Wohnung geputzt hatte, bin ich einkaufen gegangen. — After I had cleaned my apartment I went grocery shopping.

18. Während — While. Used to describe two actions that happen at the same time.
Example: Während ich auf dich warte, lese ich ein Buch.While I’m waiting for you, I am reading a book.

19. Seit — Since. Used to describe since when you’ve been doing something.
Example: Seit ich 13 bin, lebe ich in Slowenien. Since I was 13 I’ve been living in Slovenia.

20. Bis — Until. Used to describe until when you are doing something.
Example: Ich möchte Deutsch lernen, bis ich alle Konjunktionen beherrsche. — I want to study German until I manage all the conjunctions.

A Quick German Conjunction Guide

und and dass that
oder or falls if
aber but ob if/whether
denn because obwohl although
beziehungsweise more precisely damit so
sondern but bevor before
wenn if, when nachdem after
als when während while
weil because seit since
da because bis until

German grammar and conjunctions can be pretty confusing, even native speakers don’t use all all of them regularly. Still, they’re not as bad as figuring out derdie and das. With a little bit of practice, they can help you to twist up your sentences and make them more appealing and interesting.

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