Subordinating Conjunctions Examples
This week’s 3 Minuten Deutsch is actually 5 Minuten Deutsch, but I thought that this video deserved the extra time. In this video I explain how to use subordinating conjunctions more specifically with examples of each one. Below the video you will find a more in depth look at each of the conjunctions on the list.
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als – when
This conjunction is used when something only happened once. You cannot use this with an action that happens more than once.
Als ich ein Baby war, hatte ich kein Geld. – When I was a baby, I had no money.
Er war schockiert, as er den Preis sah. – He was shocked when he saw the price.
bevor – before
This one is pretty easy to use, as it is exactly the same as the English word.
Bevor du ins Kino gehen darfst, musst du dein Zimmer aufräumen. – Before you may go to the movie theater, you have to clean your room.
Die Kinder deckten den Tisch, bevor sie zu Abend aßen. – The children set the table before they ate dinner.
bis – until
Another word that is the same in English is “bis”. This makes the usage pretty easy.
Ich fahre, bis ich nicht mehr fahren kann. – I drive, until I can’t drive any more.
Bis ich meinen Führerschein bekomme, sind es nur noch drei Monaten. – Until I get my driver’s license, it is only 3 more months.
da – because
This word means “because” and, in my experience, it is more often used as the first clause instead of the second.
Da ich kein Geld habe, muss ich im Park übernachten. – Because I don’t have any money, I have to spend the night in the park.
Mein Hund bellt, da es ein Eichhörnchen im Garten gibt. – My dog is barking, because there is a squirrel in the yard.
weil – because
This one has the same meaning as “da”, but is used more often as the second clause.
Die Angestellte fragt nach meinem Reisepass, weil sie ihn braucht. – The employee asks for my passport, because she needs it.
Weil ich krank bin, bin ich zu Hause geblieben. – Because I am sick, I stayed home.
damit – so that
Like “weil” and “da”, this word answers the question “warum” (why), but it is used around actions. Most of the time, this means you can translate it as “so that” in English.
Ich arbeite, damit ich Geld verdienen kann. – I work, so that I can earn money.
Damit ich Sachen kaufen kann, muss ich arbeiten. – So that I can buy things, I need to work.
dass – that
When the English word “that” is used as a conjunction, you can use “dass” in German, but if the English word “that” is being used as a relative pronoun, you need to use a German relative pronoun. More about those in a later episode of 3 Minuten Deutsch.
Der Mann im Fernsehen hat gesagt, dass du verhaftet worden seist. – The man on TV said, that you were arrested.
Dass ich so dumm bin, habe ich nie gewusst. – That I am so dumb, I never knew. (I never knew that I was so dumb.)
nachdem/seit(dem) – after
While “nachdem” and “seitdem” are very similar in that they both translate as “after” in English, they are not identical. You use “nachdem” when it is showing that one thing occurred directly after the other. You use “seitdem” if the second action happened a while after the other or the action is ongoing since the first. For this reason, you can sometimes translate “seitdem” as “since”, but you can never translated “nachdem” as “since”.
Nachdem ich dieses Blog geschrieben haben, werde ich zur Arbeit gehen. – After I have written this blog, I will go to work.
Seitdem ich meine neuen Schuhe gekauft habe, trage ich keine anderen Schuhe. – Since I have bought my new shoes, I no longer wear any other shoes.
ob – if
As the English word does, this conjunction indicates some uncertainty. That could mean that something hasn’t happened yet or that it might not have happened. It is also used to give two options and the other party is supposed to choose between the two.
Ich frage, ob ich nach Hause gehen darf, oder nicht. – I am asking if I may go home or not.
Ob ich nach Hause gehen darf, habe ich noch nicht gefragt. – If I can go home, I have not yet asked.
obwohl – although
This conjunction is used pretty similarly to that of the English word “although”. It shows that the two halves of the sentence are not necessarily compatible with each other. One side says one thing and the other side says that something happened in spite of the other half of the sentence.
Ich muss heute arbeiten, obwohl ich krank bin. – I have to work today, although I am sick.
Obwohl ich Katzen niedlich finde, bin ich leider dagegen allergisch. – Although I think cats are cute, I am allergic to them.
während – during/while
This can be used to mean “during” or “while”. It can also be used to show that the two halves of the sentence are different from each other.
Während mein Bruder Ananas mag, mag ich Äpfel. – While my brother likes pineapple, I like apples.
Meine Frau schaut Fernsehen, während ich Abendessen koche. – My wife is watching TV, while I am cooking dinner.
wenn – when/if
This can be used to show uncertainty or to show that something happens more than once. It is often confused with “als”, because of this translation.
Wenn ich dich wäre, würde ich das nicht tun. – If I were you, I wouldn’t do that.
Ich würde ein neues Auto kaufen, wenn ich viel Geld hätte. – I would buy a new car, if I had a lot of money.