What are subordinating conjunctions in German grammar (untergeordnete Konjugationen)? Like in any other language, conjunctions in German are a vital part of the German language and full of irregularities and words that change meaning depending on how they’re used in the word order. They help to form subordinate clauses. Subordinating conjunctions bind independent and dependent clauses, and they do affect word order. A subject and verb make up an independent (or primary) clause, standing alone as a sentence. A contingent (or subordinate) clause has a subject and verb, but it is introduced with a subordinating conjunction and cannot stand alone.
In the German language, there are two types of conjunctions: coordinating conjunctions and subordinating conjunctions. Generally, subordinating conjunctions affect the sentence structure by changing the position of the verb while coordinating conjunctions leave the position of the verb unchanged. Today we want to concentrate on the German subordinating conjunctions and the related word orders because subordinating conjunctions change the position of the verb in the sentence in German. When encountering subordinating conjunction, you will see that the verb is moved to the end of the sentence. Subordinating conjunctions bind independent and dependent clauses, and they do affect the word order. When a sentence starts with a subordinating conjunction, the main clause begins with the conjugated verb, in accordance with German word order, which requires verbs to be in the second position at all times. The subordinate clause becomes the first position, so the verb of the main clause must stand at the second position.
I want to help you spot German subordinating conjunctions when you come across them. Unfortunately, there’s no absolute rule you can learn to help you spot subordinate conjunction. Generally, in clauses introduced by subordinating conjunctions, the conjugated verb is forced to the end of the clause (not the sentence), and a comma is placed before the conjunction.
Ich bleibe zu Hause, weil ich krank bin. I’m staying home because I am sick.
weil (because) is the subordinating conjunction, and bin (I am) must go to the end.)
The following list of words will give you examples of those indicators of subordinating conjunctions.
These are the most important you will need to remember:
weil – because
als – when (in describing past events)
da – because
damit – so that
indem – by … -ing
ob – whether*, if (*only use when you could say “whether” in English as well)
falls – in case, if
wenn – if, when
um … zu – in order to
dass – that
sodass – so that
bevor – before
nachdem – after
ehe – before
seit, seitdem – since (indicating time, not a causality)
während – while, during, whereas
wenn – when (describing present and future), if, whenever
wann – when (for questions only)
bis – until, by
obwohl – although
als ob, als wenn, als – as if
sooft – as often as (whenever)
sobald – as soon as
solange – as long as
To separates the subordinating conjunctions from the main clause, ALWAYS use a comma. It’s called a subordinate clause because it can’t stand alone in the sentence without the other clause, which is linked to it by a subordinating conjunction.
Sie ist mit dem Bus gekommen, weil ein Taxi zu teuer ist.
– She came by bus because a taxi is too expensive.
MAIN CLAUSE= Sie ist mit dem Bus gekommen
SUBORDINATE CLAUSE= weil ein Taxi zu teuer ist
Let’s look at a few more examples using subordinating conjunctions:
The first example:
Ich kam in Berlin an.
Es schneite, als ich in Berlin ankam (ankommen / to arrive). – It was snowing when I arrived in Berlin.
The second example:
Du warst nicht zu Hause.
Das Paket wurde beim Nachbarn abgegeben (abgeben / to hand over)
Da du nicht Zuhause warst, wurde das Paket beim Nachbarn abgegeben.
– Since you weren’t at home, the package was handed over to the neighbor.
The third example:
Ich esse viel Gemüse.
Ich bleibe Gesund.
Ich esse viel Gemüse, damit ich Gesund bleibe. – I eat a lot of vegetables so that I stay healthy.
If there is a separable prefix verb in a dependent clause, the prefix remains attached to the verb, and the entire verb goes to the end of the clause, whereas normally the prefix would go to the end.
Er ist immer schlecht gelaunt, wenn er hunger hat. – He is always moody when he gets hungry.
This one grammar topic of subordinating conjunctions is one that you need to learn to nail in your German. Both your speaking and writing will depend on it! I know it all seems a bit too much at first, don’t worry, you will get there. Make sure to learn the words from the list at the beginning of the post, and they will help you a great deal.
Learning the German language with all the exceptions like conjunctions, conjugated verbs, dependent clauses, and so on, German can be a lot to learn until it makes sense. So don’t stress if you don’t have them down in an instant. Our Grammar is something that even we Germans do struggle with sometimes! On another good note, I have a little tool for you that will improve your German skills in no time. As soon as you feel ready to tackle the topic of making sense of German, you can test your knowledge with the Readle App- learn German. You can practice reading, listening, understanding, learning new vocabulary and expressions, grammar, and get entertained by an engaging quiz and you’ll learn the use of indefinite pronouns without struggles. Are you ready?!