Because there are three words for expressing because in German (denn, weil, da)

Early on in anyone’s German career they will encounter coordinating conjunctions — that is simple joining words that link together two independent clauses. Brilliant! Almost no grammar needed here. Get rid of the full stop and put in your conjunction to link two sentences. The only thing you need to remember is the logic of the sentences that you’re combining. Are the ideas related enough to justify linking them with und (and) or is the second clause really an alternative to the first and therefore needs to use aber (but). And then comes denn (because).

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  1. […] we’ve talked about denn before. Denn is the coordinating conjuction for because. There are also the subordinating […]

  2. Fantastic explanaion– many thanks.

  3. thank you for the VERY CLEAR explanation of the denn, wiel and da business. your examples are super.

  4. Thank you for the article. It does clarify this for me a little.
    I have some remarks if you don’t mind.
    You say: “The subordinating conjunctions weil and da allow us to do something called inversion” This is funny for me, because I would pay hard cash in order not to have to do these inversions… so “allowing” an inversion is really ironic. for me, placing the verb at the end is the biggest hurdle in learning german. I feel like Yoda doing it.
    However, as I read on I think that the reason we have both “denn” and “weil” is actually to allow a distinction between independent and dependent clauses, correct? Then, you have the following consequences:
    – if you use weil you MUST place the auxiliary verb at the end in conjugated form and the main verb right before the auxiliary, in infinitive (correct?)
    – if you use denn, you MUST NOT invert verbs.
    – weil allows also the placement of the secondary clause at the beginning of the sentence. Is this done a lot in spoken language? to me this makes things even more complex and difficult to learn.

    Also the exercises are confusing. You say “keep the clause order the same”, but the answers for 3, 5 and 7 are reversing the clause order, why is that?
    Thank you,

    1. Hi Dan, thanks for your feedback. I’m still working my head around your explanations. If it works for you, stick with it though. Regarding the exercises, I meant not to switch the order in which the information is provided, in which case 3, 5, and 7 are all examples of inversion, but the clauses come in the same order as they are given in the exercise.

      1. I’m not sure if they work, that’s why I asked…

  5. […] Weil / denn / da — three German words for because […]

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