Content in this post
1. What conjunctions are
2. The four categories of german conjunctions
3. How to use the examples of the four categories of conjunction in a sentence
4. What a clause is
Table of content for conjunctions

Conjunctions are words that connect or link two or more sentences together. They make it possible for a complete expression of an idea to be made without having to break a sentence. The use of a conjunction in German language is often together with a comma (,) which is placed at the end of the first sentence just before the conjunction is added. Depending on the type of conjunction, it could be optional.

Often times when conjunctions except subordinate conjunctions are used in a sentence where the subject of sentence 1 is the same as the subject of sentence 2 and it’s a noun, the subject of the second sentence can either be omitted or be replaced by the pronoun of the subject in sentence 1. Then the verb in sentence 2 should be conjugated to the subject in sentence 1. This process can also be applicable to the verb. That is, if the conjugated verb in sentence 1 is the same as that which is required in sentence two with both having the same subject. This is done so as to avoid repetition of subject which makes the writing or speaking immature. For example;

  • I got home and then I made dinner. ❌
  • I got home and then made dinner. ✅

Categories of german conjunctions

The are four categories of conjunctions in German as listed below;

  • Coordinate Conjunctions
  • Subordinate Conjunctions
  • Conjunctive Adverbs
  • Two-part conjunctions

Coordinate Conjunctions

These are those conjunctions that link two or more sentences and/or questions that are not dependent on each other. That is, each sentence can stand on its own and still make a perfect sense. Examples of these conjunctions are;

GermanEnglish
und
aber
oder
denn
sondern
doch
and
but
or
because
rather
however
Examples german coordinate conjunctions

Coordinate conjunctions let the sentence or clause stay in the standard SVO order as demonstrated below.

More examples:

  • Meine Oma ging zum Markt und sie kaufte ein Paar alte Schuhe.—— My grandma 👵 went to the market and bought a pair of old shoes.
  • Susan konnte nicht zum Geburtstag ihres Sohnes einen Kuchen backen, sondern sie bestellte einen bei Amazon.—— Susan couldn’t bake a cake for her son’s birthday, rather she ordered one on Amazon.
  • Verkaufst du dein Auto, denn du hast deine Arbeitsstelle verloren?—— are you selling your car because you have lost your job?

Subordinate Conjunctions

They are conjunctions that link sentences or clauses thereby distorting the sentence order. The sentence which precedes the subordinate conjunction is known as the main clause/sentence while the one which comes after the conjunction is called the subordinate clause. The main clause must always be separated from the subordinate clause with a comma which is placed at the end of the sentence right before the conjunction. The subordinate conjunctions are but not limited to;

GermanEnglish
Obwohl
wenn
als
seit/ seitdem
bis
weil
ob
nachdem
bevor
während
solange
so bald
sooft
falls
damit
dass
alle W-Fragenwörter
although/ even though
when/ if
as/ when
since
untill
because
if/ whether
after
before
while
as long as
as soon as
as often as
if/ in case
so that
that
all WH- Question Words
Examples german subordinate conjunctions

**Note that some subordinate conjunctions have similar meaning in English. This doesn’t mean that they are actually used for the same situation but it is rather due to the limitation of words/ conjunctions in English language. For instance, the conjunctions “wenn” and “als” which means “when” in English are used differently.

When making a sentence in german that involves a subordinate conjunction, the sentence order of the main clause is usually that of the standard SVO but the order of the subordinate clause is much different. Instead of the original second position of verbs in German, the conjugated verbs goes to the end of the sentence as shown below;

  • Sie feierten draußen, obwohl es stark regnete.—— They partied outside even thought it rained heavily.

Sometimes, a sentence can begin with the subordinate clause. When this is the case, the main sentence must begin with the conjugated verb as seen below:

  • Wenn du bei der Arbeit anfängst, kannst du dann ein Auto kaufen.—— when you start working, you can then buy a car.

More Examples;

  • Ich spreche nicht, während ich esse.—— I don’t speak while I am eating.
  • Nachdem ich die Prüfung bestanden habe, habe ich einen Job gesucht.—— after I passed the exam, I searched for a job.
  • Eva hat geheiratet, bevor sie nach Deutschland umgezogen ist.—— Eva got married before she relocated to Germany.
  • Maria sagte, dass sie heute nicht zur Arbeit kommen kann, wegen ihrer Krankheit.—— Mary said that she can’t come to work today as a result of her sickness.

Conjunctive Adverbs

These are certain adverbs that are used to link two or more independent sentences together. Because adverbs are adjuncts and can move about in a sentence, coordinate adverbs therefore take the preverbal position —the position of the subject— in the standard SVO order thereby displacing the subject to the third position. Examples of coordinate adverbs are;

GermanEnglish
danach
zuvor
deshalb
deswegen
außerdem
zuletzt
darum
da
dort
so
also
somit
sonst
schließlich
trotzdem
thereafter
previously
that’s why
therefoer
besides/ likewise
in the end
because of that
there
over there
so/ also
well
so as to
otherwise
finally
inspite of this
Examples german conjunctive adverbs

Usage:

  • I work in Germany, that’s why I live there.—— ich arbeite in Deutschland, deshalb lebe ich dort.
  • He doesn’t have a job. Otherwise, he wouldn’t always be at Home.—— er hat keine Arbeit. Sonst wäre er nicht immer zu Hause.
  • zuerst habe ich mein Zimmer aufgeräumt. Danach habe ich die Hausaufgaben gemacht.

Two-part Conjunctions

These are conjunctions that take part in the sentences which they connect. It is more like a two in one conjunction where one part belongs to the first sentence and the other part belongs to the second sentence. it is divided into two groups:

  • Two-part coordinate conjunctions
  • Two-part subordinate conjunctions

The two-part coordinate conjunction operates in a way where the first part can either be at the beginning of the first clause or within the sentence like an adverb, while the second part of the conjunction is placed at the beginning of the second clause while the two part sub-ordinate conjunctions have the first part of their conjunction as a subordinate conjunction in that they displace the verb to the end of the first clause.

**Note: each part of the conjunction can act like any of the first three groups of conjunctions. For instance, when a part of any particular two-part conjunction behaves like a coordinate conjunction then they stay right before the subject. But when they behave like coordinate adjective, then they take the preverbal position like in a flexed sentence. So also, they displace the conjugated verb to the end of that clause when they behave like subordinate conjunctions.

Examples of these conjunctions are;

GermanEnglish
entweder…. oder
nicht nur…. sondern auch
weder….. noch
zwar….. aber
sowohl…als auch/ wie auch
je….desto/umso*
ob…oder(ob)
einerseits … andererseits
either….. or
not only…. but also
neither….. nor
indeed…. but
(both)….as well as/and
the….the
whether….or( if)
on one hand…(but)on the other(hand)
Examples german conjunctive adverbs

*Only used with the comparative form of adjectives to make expressions like: “the more you look the less you see”.

Usage;

  • Thomas hat nicht nur ein Fernseher gewonnen, sonder auch viel Geld.
  • Nicht nur hat Thomas ein Fernseher gewonnen, sonder auch viel Geld.
  • Ich spreche sowohl Englisch als auch Deutsch.—— I speak (both) English and German.
  • Sowohl sie als auch ihre Mutter hat mich zu ihrer Party eingeladen.—— Both she and her mother invited me to their party.
  • sie sowohl ihre Mutter hat mich zu ihrer Party eingeladen.—— she and her mother both invited me to their party.
  • Ich rufe dich zwar nicht so oft an, aber ich denke immer an dich.—— I don’t call you so often indeed but I always think of you.
  • Zwar rufe ich dich nicht so oft an, aber ich denke immer an dich.—— it’s true I don’t call you so often but I think of you always.
  • Du hast einerseits recht,aber andererseits vertraue ich dir nicht.—— you are right on one hand, but I don’t trust you on the other hand.
  • Einerseits hast du recht, andererseits vertraue ich dir nicht.—— on one hand you are right but on the other hand I don’t trust you.
  • Du kannst entweder eine Packung Reis kaufen oder eine Packung Bohnen.
  • Entweder du kaufst eine Packung Reis oder eine Packung Bohnen.
  • Je mehr ich Deutsch lerne, desto besser verstehe ich es.—— the more I learn German the better I understand it.
  • Ich weiß nicht, ob ich die schwarze Hose tragen soll, oder die grüne.—— I don’t know whether I should wear the black trouser or the green one.

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