In this lesson I will teach you how to use the German adverbial conjunctions such as: also, dann, trotzdem, jedoch and a whole lot more. These conjunctions are also known by several other names including: conjunction-adverbs, conjunctional adverbs, Konjunktionaladverbien, conjunctive adverbs, and conjunctivitis. Ok, that last one is the scientific name for pink eye, but the rest of those were things people online call these conjunctions. I’ll call them adverbial conjunctions for consistency purposes, but the other names work, too.
What are adverbial conjunctions in German?
First, as we did in the other lessons about conjunctions we have to define what adverbial conjunctions are. Bad definition first: they are adverbs that act like conjunctions. That isn’t very helpful. I would say they are words that are usually considered adverbs, words that modify almost anything in the sentence with the exception of nouns, but they are used to connect words, phrases or clauses, like conjunctions do. For example: trotzdem is usually an adverb. It means “however” or “nevertheless”.
Seine Mutter ist sehr gemein. Er ist trotzdem ganz nett.
His mother is very mean. He is very nice, however.
In this sentence “trotzdem” simply modifies the other adverbs “ganz” and “nett”. It is kind of showing the manner in which he is very nice. You can combine these two sentences and use “trotzdem” as a conjunction for the glue to hold them together.
Seine Mutter ist sehr gemein, trotzdem ist er ganz nett.
His mother is very mean, however he is quite nice.
Word Order with German Adverbial Conjunctions
The thing you need to pay attention to is the word order after the conjunction. With coordinating conjunctions, the word order is not affected. That would put the verb after “er”, but that isn’t what happened here. Subordinating conjunctions would require you to move the verb to the end, which is also not what happened here. We simply started the clause with “trotzdem” and moved our subject “er” to the other side of the verb “ist”.
This is the same thing that happens if you start the sentence with any other adverb. The most common way to do this is with a time element within a sentence. If you start your sentence with the time, the subject goes to the other side of the verb. For example:
Ich gehe heute ins Kino.
I am going to the movie theater today.
Heute gehe ich ins Kino.
Today, I am going to the movie theater.
So, adverbs can be placed at the beginning of a sentence or clause and move the subject to the other side of the verb. Some of these adverbs can be used as conjunctions, as they can connect one clause to another. These are what we call adverbial conjunctions. Let’s get into the list.
There are a ton of adverbs that can be used to connect clauses to each other, but there are only a handful of them that are actually used in everyday conversations. I’m going to focus on the ones that are actually used in normal conversations in German and then at the end, I’ll show you a big list of the other ones and how they are used.
from that, hence, as a result
There are five main adverbial conjunctions that all basically mean “therefore”, “that’s why” or “hence” in German. They are: “daher”, “darum”, “deshalb”, “deswegen” and “somit”. They each have different uses and subtleties, however. I could spend an entire video talking about the differences in the different why’s (wieso, weshalb, warum) in German and the answers to them, but this video already has enough going on in it without diving into the deep end with that. Instead I’ll try and explain them in a broad sense, but don’t take this explanation as the only thing you need to know in order to master these words, as that is not the case.
“daher” is like saying “from that”, “hence” or “as a result”. It shows the origin of the event. For example:
Der Schüler hat nichts gelernt, daher hat er die Prüfung nicht bestanden.
The student didn’t learn anything (study), as a result he didn’t pass the test.
Ich trinke jeden Tag vier Liter Wasser, daher muss ich oft auf die Toilette.
I drink four liters of water every day, hence I have to go to the bathroom a lot.
because, about that
“darum” is similar to “daher” in that it could be translated as “because”, but “darum” carries with it the connotation of “around that” or “about that”.
Sein Hund ist gestorben, darum ist er traurig.
His dog died, that’s why he is sad.
Die Studentin liest jeden Tag zwei Bücher, darum ist sie sehr klug.
The student reads two books every day, that’s why she is very smart.
because, therefore, so
“deshalb” and “deswegen” are difficult to tell apart. If you can reword the sentence to include the preposition “wegen” instead of the adverbial conjunction “deswegen”, you probably need “deshalb” or “deswegen”.
Ich bin mit dem Auto meines Vaters gegen einen Baum gefahren, deshalb/deswegen darf ich sein Auto nicht mehr fahren.
I drove my father’s car into a tree, so I am not allowed to drive his car anymore.
Wegen des Unfalls darf ich sein Auto nicht mehr fahren.
Because of the accident, I am not allowed to drive his car anymore.
Deswegen darf ich es nicht fahren.
That’s why I am not allowed to drive it.
so that, in order to
The last one in this list of similar meanings is the furthest removed from the others. “somit” indicates that something was done in order to accomplish something else. It is similar in that it shows the cause of the action, but could be translated as “so that” or “in order to”. It is important to note that “somit” is used in a main clause or “Hauptsatz”, but there is “sodass”, which is used in a subordinate clause or “Nebensatz” and carries a similar meaning. Here are some examples of “somit”.
Die Knicks haben noch einmal verloren, somit erreichen sie dieses Jahr die Playoffs nicht.
The Knicks lost again, hence they missed the playoffs again.
Sam hat die meisten Punkte, somit hat sie gewonnen.
Sam has the most points, with that she won.
How to say “however” in German
There are a few ways to say “however” or “nonetheless” in German. I talked about one in my coordinating conjunction lesson, “doch”. There are two others I want to talk about today, “allerdings” and “trotzdem”. “allerdings” has more of a feeling of “all things considered, however”, while “trotzdem” is more like “in spite of that”. The difference is subtle, but the main point is that “trotzdem” feels stronger than “allerdings”. Here are a few examples of them.
all things considered, however
Die Reise durch Deutschland war anstrengend, allerdings war sie auch sehr schön.
The trip through Germany was very exhausting/demanding, nonetheless it was also very beautiful.
Die Interesse der Schüler schwindet, allerdings ist das nicht außergewöhnlich, da es schon 14 Uhr ist.
The interest of the students is waning, however that is not out of the ordinary, as it is already 2 pm.
in spite of that, however
Mein Bruder hat schon zu Abend gegessen, trotzdem möchte er mit uns essen gehen.
My brother already ate dinner, in spite of that he would like to go to dinner with us.
Das Wasser ist grün, trotzdem schwimmt sie.
The water is green, in spite of that she is swimming.
besides that, in addition to that, likewise
The most common and widely used adverbial conjunction for “in addition” or “likewise” in German is “außerdem”. The preposition “außer” means “besides”. When you add “dem” to the end, it is like saying “besides that” or “in addition to that”. With this in mind, you can use it as a conjunction. Here are a couple of examples of that.
Diese Schuhe passen mir nicht. Sie sind zu klein und nicht breit genug, außerdem fallen sie auseinander.
The shoes do not fit. They are too small and not wide enough, besides that they are falling apart.
Ich möchte noch nicht essen, außerdem mag ich keinen Fisch.
I wouldn’t like to eat yet, besides that I don’t like fish.
If you want to say “otherwise” in German, “sonst” is a good option. For example:
Der Bär muss keinen Hunger haben, sonst hätte er dich gefressen.
The bear must not be hungry, otherwise he would have eaten you.
Das erste Schwein musste gefressen werden wollen, sonst hätte er sein Haus aus Stein gebaut.
The first pig must have wanted to get eaten, otherwise he would have built his house out of stone.
Categories of Adverbial Conjunctions in German
These are nowhere near the entire list of adverbial conjunctions in German. In fact there are more than fifty of them. In this chart you can see a list of different adverbs that can be used as conjunctions. These are separated based on their use. Instead of giving examples of each one individually, I will simply explain what each category means and what that means for the adverbs in that group.
“kopulativ” refers to the fact that it adds something to the first clause. This is why you see “außerdem” (besides that) in that group. Other examples would include “weiter” (further/furthermore), ebenso (equally, as well), and “darüber hinaus” (beyond that).
“lokal” refers to the location of something. “daneben” for example would be “next to that”, but can also take on a more figurative meaning of the phrase. You will notice all of them in this list are da-compounds. That is pretty common for a lot of adverbial conjunctions, as the da-compounds lend themselves to this kind of use very well. For more on da-compounds, you can click here for my lesson about them.
“temporal” expresses a time. “davor” for example means “before that” and “währenddessen” means “during that”. These are great transitional conjunctions if you are writing an essay or for use on the written part of some German exams. I would highly recommend you learning how to use these well, as they will come in handy. Since they are so helpful, I wrote some examples of them in use, as well with the exception of “indessen”, because it isn’t as widely used.
Mein Hund riecht die Schildkröte, davor hat sie keine gesehen.
My dog is smelling the turtle, before that she hadn’t seen one.
during that time, all the while
Meine Mutter geht einkaufen, währenddessen bleibe ich zu Hause und zocke.
My mother is going shopping, during that time, I am staying at home and playing video games.
Wir haben zusammen zu Abend gegessen, danach sind wir ins Kino gegangen.
We ate dinner together, after that we went to the movies.
after that, finally
Er spricht zuerst mit seiner Familie, anschließend mit seinem Chef.
He spoke with his family first, after that/finally with his boss.
Next up is “kausal”, which as you might guess, shows the cause of something. They are almost all translated as “that’s why” or “because”. The most popular ones were mentioned at the beginning of this video.
konditional & konsekutiv
conditional & consecutive
“konditional” und “konsekutiv” are both showing a condition. For example:
Ich habe auch ein Auto, notfalls können wir mit ihm fahren.
I have a car too, if need be we can drive with it.
“konzessiv” refers to something that precludes another. In other words, this thing happened, but this happened anyway. For example:
Der Bürgermeister sagt wir müssen zu Hause bleiben, dessen ungeachtet gingen viele Menschen zum Park.
The mayor says we have to stay home, nevertheless many people went to the park.
In the category of “spezifizierend” you see words that describe the extent to which something is done.
The last category is “adversativ”, meaning that it shows something is different than the first clause. There are a bunch of these. You will also notice the two-part conjunction “einerseits… andererseits” in that group, as it is not only a two-part conjunction, but also an adverbial conjunction. Here are a few examples from this category.
Mein Hund ist sehr faul, demgegenüber ist die Katze voller Energie.
My dog is very lazy, by contrast the cat is full of energy.
Es gibt viele Nachspeisen auf dem Tisch, nur darfst du sie nicht haben.
There are a lot of desserts on the table, but you aren’t allowed to have them.
An Almost-Complete List of Adverbial Conjunctions
|kopulativ||außerdem, zudem, dazu, daneben, darüber hinaus, desgleichen, ebenso, ferner, weiter, zusätzlich|
|Lokal||daneben, darüber, darunter, dazwischen|
|Temporal||davor, währenddessen, indessen, danach, anschließend|
|kausal||folglich, demzufolge, demnach, damit, somit, mithin, also, deswegen, deshalb, daher, nämlich|
|konditional und konsekutiv||notfalls, sonst/ansonsten, andernfalls, gegebenenfalls, so, dann|
|konzessiv||trotzdem, dennoch, dessen ungeachtet, gleichwohl, immerhin, allerdings, sowieso, nichtsdestoweniger|
|adversativ||hingegen, dafür, dagegen, jedoch, doch, dennoch, indes/indessen, allerdings, nur, vielmehr, demgegenüber, stattdessen, einerseits – andererseits|
More about Conjunctions in German
Below is a list of posts about various kinds of conjunctions in German. If you enjoyed this lesson, you will love these as well.