Conjunctions in sentences. Word order in German

Last Updated on October 10, 2023

For me, when I was at the A2 level, it was a big mystery why, when we join the second parts of sentences with the same explanatory meaning, but different conjunctions (denn, weil, deshalb), the word order changes all the time. On the courses the teachers could not clearly explain this to me – you just have to remember. And I hate “just remember”, I prefer to understand. Therefore, we are looking for the answer ourselves.

It will be about conjunctions and connector adverbs, and for the sake of completeness, we will also take prepositions.

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Word order in German

Connector adverbs (Konnektoradverbien, or Verbindungsadverbien) differ from conjunctions (Konjunktionen) in that they are members of a sentence. And since connector adverbs are members of a sentence, they occupy a certain position in this sentence (for example, the first, and not zero, like a conjunctions), and from this follows a certain place of the verb.

How to distinguish? Connector adverbs have their own meaning and are used like ordinary words in simple sentences. Many of them can be replaced in the middle of the sentence (the order of other words will change accordingly).

Thus, a sentence with two main parts connected by a conjunction (Hauptsatz + Hauptsatz, HS + HS) will look like this:

Conjunction has Position 0,
Subject – Position 1,
Verb – Position 2.

Wir (subject, 1) gehen (verb, 2) heute spazieren (second part of the verb), und (conjunction, 0) wir (subject, 1) möchten (verb, 2) auch unsere Freunde besuchen (second part of the verb).

A sentence with a main and a subordinate clause connected by a conjunction (Hauptsatz + Nebensatz, HS + NS) will look like this.

In the first sentence a conjunction takes Pos. 0.

Wir (subject, 1) gehen (verb, 2) morgen spazieren (second part of the verb), weil (conjunction, 0) wir (subject, 1) heute unsere Freunde besuchen (second part of the verb) möchten (verb).

Word order in german sentences / Konnektoradverbien

In the second sentence entire subordinate clause (Nebensatz) takes Pos. 1 and conjunction stands on the Pos. 0.

Da (conjunction, 0) wir heute unsere Freunde besuchen (second part of the verb) möchten (verb) (whole part is on the position 1 for next part), gehen (verb, on the position 2 after part 1) wir (subject) morgen spazieren (second part of the verb),

A sentence with two parts connected by a connector adverb will look like this (two variants).

First sentence:
connector adverb has Pos. 1,
Verb – Pos. 2.

Wir (subject, 1) möchten (verb, 2) heute unsere Freunde besuchen (second part of the verb), deshalb (connector adverb, 1) gehen (verb, 2) wir morgen spazieren (second part of the verb).

Word order in german sentences / Konnektoradverbien

Second sentence:
subject has Pos. 1,
Verb – Pos. 2,
connector adverb somewhere further.

Wir (subject, 1) möchten (verb, 2) heute unsere Freunde besuchen (second part of the verb), wir (subject, 1) gehen (verb, 2) deshalb morgen spazieren (second part of the verb).

Now let’s try to present the complete list in the tables. Subject and predicate are underlined.

Connecting meaning “and”

But first, briefly about how to express the meaning of “and“.

– conjunction und

                 Sie lernt Deutsch und (sie lernt) Englisch.

sowohl… als auch (“both”, only used inside one Hauptsatz)

                 Sie lernt sowohl Deutsch, als auch Englisch.

nicht nur… sondern auch (not only but)

                Sie lernt nicht nur Englisch, sondern (sie lernt) auch Deutsch.

– weder… noch (take Position 1!). “And” in negation: no to one and no to the other

                Sie lernt weder Englisch, noch (lernt sie) Deutsch.
Weder will ich schlafen, noch bin ich müde.

Adversary meaning

Now adversary sentences (contrast, opposition: but, however, but, but …) – in German they are called Adversativsatz.

Here we already have a full range of options. How to distinguish a conjunction (first column) from an adverb (fourth column)? The adverb can be replaced.

All tables can be enlarge (Picture open).

Concessive meaning

Concessive sentence (limitation: although, despite the fact that)

Next – part 2

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