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35 Most Common German Conjunctions

In grammar, a conjunction is a word that connects parts of a sentence. It enables the creation of longer, more sophisticated sentences to illustrate a cohesive idea or concept.

In English, conjunctions include words like “and,” “but,” “then,” “while” and so on.

Conjunctions in the German language can be classified into two major categories: coordinating conjunctions and subordinating conjunctions.

This guide will cover the fundamental German conjunctions all learners should know and memorize for basic conversations.


German Coordinating Conjunctions

Coordinating conjunctions connect parts of a sentence and provide equal emphasis on each part.

German coordinating conjunctions are convenient since they don’t affect the sentence structure or order. Plus, there aren’t many coordinating conjunctions to memorize!

When I first learned about coordinating conjunctions in German class, I was told to think of them as the “friend” or “buddy” conjunctions. The analogy works for all the reasons above. So, let’s take a look at our grammatical friends.

1. und — and

Usage: Cognate of English “and.” Connects clauses and similar, related words or phrases.

Sie ist klug und hat viele Hobbys.
She is clever and has lots of hobbies.

2. aber — but

Usage: Connects clauses that contradict each other in truth or concept. Emphasis is placed on the difference between them.

Ich bin müde, aber ich muss zur Schule gehen.
I am tired, but I have to go to school.

3. oder — or

Usage: Used to provide a list or alternate options. In German, it’s also commonly used in a non-conjunctive manner at the end of the question or inquiry as a kind of affirmative, similar to the English “right?”

Willst du ein Buch lesen oder Schach spielen?
Do you want to read a book or play chess?

Er ist ganz sympatisch, oder?
He is really nice, right?

4. denn — because, since

Usage: Presents a causal relationship between clauses. Note: denn cannot be used to start a sentence (as is possible in English sentences starting with “because” or “since”).

Ich kaufe Gemüse, denn ich möchte einen Salat machen.
I am buying vegetables because I want to make a salad.

5. hingegen — on the other hand

Usage: Presents a contradictory or alternate object or scenario to what was previously mentioned. Hingegen is unique in that it acts more like a conjunctive “attachment” to the subject being described. It’s placed within the coordinating conjunction list since it does not create a subordinate clause, nor does it change the position of the verb.

Sie liebt Äpfel, ihre Freundin hingegen liebt Orangen.
She loves apples, her girlfriend, on the other hand, loves oranges.

6. sondern — but rather

Usage: Similar to aber, this introduces a contradictory clause. However, sondern typically suggests a correction to the first clause.

Sie wohnt nicht in Berlin, sondern in Tübingen.
She doesn’t live in Berlin, but rather in Tübingen.

7. doch — yet, however

Usage: Similar to aber in introducing a contradictory clause. However, doch tends to carry a slightly more formal tone, and it may apply more significance to the clause or statement that follows it. In some cases, it may translate more accurately as “anyway” or “indeed.”

Ich wollte zur Party kommen, doch ich war schon verabredet.
I wanted to come to the party, but I already had plans.

German Subordinating Conjunctions

Subordinating conjunctions connect clauses, but an obvious relationship exists between them. A clause must be dependent on another for the entire meaning and significance of the sentence to be made clear.

In German, subordinating conjunctions do change the sentence word order. Namely, the verb within a subordinate clause is moved from the second position to the very end of the clause. This makes the order of a subordinating clause Subject-Object-Verb, as opposed to Subject-Verb-Object.

Subordinate clauses can also start trouble with the clause following them. In German sentences, the comma is used to cleanly separate the clauses. When a sentence is started by a subordinate clause, the clause that comes after the comma will also experience a word shift–specifically, the subject and verb of that clause will switch places.

You’ll notice this shift in the examples below.

While coordinating conjunctions can be seen as cooperative “friends,” I was taught to think of subordinating conjunctions as “bullies” that “kick” verbs to the curb (quite literally in a sentence). They create a clear power dynamic and stir up the grammatical “peace.”

Still, it’s essential to learn about these conjunctive miscreants. There are quite a few more of them than coordinating conjunctions.

8. als — when (referring to the past)

Usage: To describe events of the past. These events are usually singular, completed moments that aren’t ongoing.

Als ich jung war, war ich sehr frech.
When I was young, I was very cheeky.

9. anstatt — instead of

Usage: Presents an action, event or object that opposes, or is an alternative to, the formerly-mentioned action, event or object.

Ich gehe zu Fuß, anstatt mit dem Auto zu fahren.
I walk instead of driving my car.

10. bevor — before

Usage: Implies an action that has or should come before another action. Bevor is not used for nouns.

Bevor meine Eltern kommen, müssen wir das Wohnzimmer aufräumen.
Before my parents come, we have to clean up the living room.

11. bis — until

Usage: Describes an event that would occur to a certain point or occurrence.

Wir warten auf Sie, bis Sie fertig sind.
We will wait for you until you are ready.

12. da — as, because

Usage: Describes a causal relationship between clauses. Unlike denn, da can be used at the start of the sentence.

Da sie viele Meetings hat, arbeitet sie heute im Büro.
Since she has a lot of meetings, she’s working in the office today.

13. damit — so that, in order that

Usage: Presents a causal, and often sequential, relationship between clauses. The clause following damit explains the purpose for the previous clause.

Lass uns später losfahren, damit wir nicht im Stau stecken bleiben.
Let’s leave later so we don’t get stuck in traffic.

14. dass — that

Usage: Cognate of English “that.” Introduces a dependent clause that provides further explanation to the main independent clause. In some cases, native German speakers may not include dass in a sentence, if the overall context already implies it (in these instances, the sentence is essentially just two or more independent clauses with no verb order movement).

Ich hoffe, dass du kommen kannst.
I hope that you can come.

15. falls — in case

Usage: Presents conditional scenarios; falls is derived from der Fall (case, issue). Often, falls is used to describe precautionary events that aren’t known to occur with certainty.

Kaufen Sie Medikamente, falls Sie krank werden.
Buy some medicine in case you get sick.

16. indem — by

Usage: Presents the cause or method of a mentioned scenario/event, or the means in which a “goal” is reached.

Sie hat Englisch gelernt, indem sie fünf Jahre in Amerika gewohnt hat.
She learned English by living in America for five years.

17. nachdem — after, afterwards

Usage: Implies an action that has or should come after another action. Nachdem is not used for nouns.

Sie macht ein Nickerchen, nachdem sie ihre Arbeit erledigt hat.
She takes a nap after she finishes her work.

18. ob — whether (or not), if

Usage: A restricted “if” that applies solely to “yes/no” scenarios. This is unlike falls, which can be used more broadly.

Sie wollen wissen, ob Greta das Abendessen kochen kann.
They want to know whether Greta can cook dinner.

19. obgleich — although, albeit, even though

Usage: Describes a condition or scenario that leads to a contradictory or unanticipated event. Used more often in text than in casual conversation.

Er wollte mittanzen, obgleich er ungeschickt ist.
He wanted to dance along with everyone, even though he is clumsy.

20. obwohl — although, albeit, even though

Usage: The same function as obgleich, although obwohl is used more commonly in spoken conversation.

Er gewann das Rennen, obwohl er nicht trainierte.
He won the race although he didn’t practice.

21. seit — since

Usage: Describes an event that has started in the past and is implied to be ongoing.

Seit ich ein Teenager war, kaue ich Kaugummi.
Since I was a teenager, I’ve been chewing gum.

22. sobald — once, as soon as, by the time

Usage: Expresses an event that would occur immediately after another event occurs.

Sobald Sie angekommen sind, rufen Sie mich an.
Once you are ready, meet me at the restaurant.

23. sodass — so, with the result that

Usage: This is slightly different from the English “so that” and the aforementioned damit. Instead of indicating intention, it instead points to the result of an action, whether intentional or not.

Der Flug hatte Verspätung, sodass wir den letzten Zug nach Hause verpasst haben.
The flight was delayed, so we missed the last train home.

24. sofern — provided, as long as

Usage: Details conditions for an event to occur. Considered a bit more formal than falls.

Ich kann einen Kuchen backen, sofern du die Zutaten kaufst.
I can bake a cake, provided you buy the ingredients.

25. solange — so long as, while

Usage: Cognate of English “so long.” Details a (usually ongoing) condition in which a scenario would occur.

Solange Sie Ihren Hund haben, sind Sie in Sicherheit.
So long as you have your dog, you will be safe.

26. sonst — otherwise

Usage: Presents a scenario that would occur as a result of not following a condition or action. Often used to present warnings or precautions.

Ich muss los, sonst komme ich zu spät zur Arbeit.
I have to go, otherwise I’ll be late for work.

27. soweit — insofar as, as far as

Usage: Describes a degree (abstract or concrete) in which an action or scenario reaches.

Soweit ich weiß, funktioniert der Computer.
As far as I know, the computer works.

28. statt — instead of

Usage: A shortened, more informal version of anstatt, with the same function: presents an action, event or object that opposes, or is an alternative to, the formerly-mentioned action, event or object.

Warum drehst du die Heizung auf, statt einen Pulli anzuziehen?
Why are you turning the heating up instead of putting on a sweater?

29. um…zu — in order to

Usage: Presents a reason or purpose for an action or scenario. When using um…zu, the infinitive form of a verb is used.

Er geht in die Bibliothek, um zu lernen.
He goes to the library in order to study.

30. während — while

Usage: Describes events that would occur simultaneously.

Sie arbeitet am Computer, während er die Wohnung putzt.
She works on her computer whilst he cleans the apartment.

31. weil — because

Usage: Presents a causal relationship between clauses. Unlike denn, weil can be used at the start of a sentence.

Sie ist wütend, weil sie ihre Brieftasche verloren hat.
She is angry because she lost her wallet.

32. wann — if, when

Usage: Describes a specific point in time in which something occurs, which will usually lead to another action.

Sag mir, wann du zur Party kommst.
Tell me when you are coming to the party.

33. wenn — if, whenever

Usage: Presents conditional scenarios, typically repeated ones as opposed to singular scenarios or events that occur at a specific point in time. Therefore, wenn is not necessarily restricted to temporal situations and is more versatile than wenn in function.

Wenn Sie Fahrrad fahren, tragen Sie immer Ihren Helm.
Whenever you ride a bike, always wear your helmet.

34. wie — how

Usage: Presents a clause that asks or provides more information about a mentioned action.

Können Sie mir sagen, wie ich zum Bahnhof komme?
Can you tell me how to get to the train station?

35. wo — where

Usage: Presents a clause that asks or provides information about a specific location.

Wissen Sie, wo das Klassenzimmer ist?
Do you know where the classroom is?


Whether they act as grammatical chums or brutes, it’s important to know both categories of German conjunctions. They can seriously upgrade your short, basic sentences into more elegant and impressive forms.

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