Connectors 1


In this module, you will review the usage of German words that connect clauses. These include coordinating and subordinating conjunctions as well as adverbs. It is important to distinguish these three types of connectors because they affect the position of the verb in a clause.

Activity 1

First, let’s review the meaning of some frequent German conjunctions by matching them with their English equivalents. If needed, you can consult the online dictionary LEO.

Activity 2

Now, let’s explore examples with these conjunctions using Das Digitale Wörterbuch der Deutschen Sprache (DWDS), a large electronic collection of German texts known as a corpus.  Below you will see two images that show example sentences. They are presented in form of a concordance – stacked lines of examples with the search words bolded and centered. If you find the text hard to read, you can click on the image to get a larger version, or you can go directly to the DWDS corpus using the links provided below the images.

Read the corpus examples below, paying special attention to the position of the conjugated verb.


DWDS corpus examples for und, denn, aber retrieved May 13, 2021.


DWDS corpus examples for da, dass, wenn, weil, bevor retrieved May 13, 2021.

Which rules best reflect the difference between sentence sets above?

Activity 3

Now consider some additional example sentences:

  • Ich angle gerne, oder ich betrachte einfach nur die Landschaft, das Moos auf den Zypressen und solche Dinge.
    Die Zeit, 22.07.1999, Nr. 30
  • Der Kultursenator in Berlin ist ein Posten zweifelhaften Rufes geworden, nachdem Christa Thoben ihn nach vier Monaten verließ.
    Die Zeit, 06.04.2000, Nr. 15
  • In Wahrheit sinken auch die Steuern und Abgaben in Deutschland nicht, sondern sie steigen insbesondere im laufenden Jahr 2000.
    Archiv der Gegenwart, 2001 [2000]
  • Oder ich kaufe mir nach dem sechsten Bier einen Cuba libre, weil mir das besser bekommt, obwohl es doppelt so viel kostet.
    Die Zeit, 27.01.2000, Nr. 5

After looking at all sentences in Activities 2 and 3, decide which conjunctions from Activity 1 are coordinating and which are subordinating.

Activity 4

Read the sentences below and find the conjugated verb in the clause with the bolded conjunction.


Select the conjugated verb in the clause with the bolded conjunction.


Indicate whether the bolded conjunctions in the sentences below are coordinating or subordinating.

Activity 5

Now, bring together what you have learned about the difference between the coordinating and subordinating conjunctions.

Activity 6

Now, let’s consider the third category of connectors: adverbs. Like conjunctions, they can connect clauses, but they also add extra information on how, when, where, or why something happened. Review the meaning of some German adverbs by matching them with their English equivalents. If needed, you can consult the online dictionary LEO.

Activity 7

Read corpus examples below paying special attention to the position of the verb.

DWDS corpus examples for danach, dort, deshalb retrieved May 13, 2021.

Choose the best summary of what you see in the examples above.

Activity 8

Now let’s look at some mixed example sentences with all three types of connectors: coordinating conjunctions, subordinating conjunctions, and adverbs. Look at the sentences below and indicate which type of connector is shown in bold. The relevant verbs are shown in italics.

Activity 9

Now summarize what you have learned in this module.

Activity 10

On your own. Write 5 sentences, where you use at least 5 of the connectors mentioned in this module.
For example:

Ich gehe nach Hause, weil ich müde bin.
Alex will ein Auto kaufen, aber er hat kein Geld.
Ich esse mein Frühstück, dann gehe ich joggen.

 Schirin Kourehpaz & Nina Vyatkina


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