There are two different ways to say “in order to” in German. After reading this article you will know when to use “damit” or “um … zu”.
We have two different ways to say “in order to” or respectively “to” in German: “damit” and “um … zu”. Now you might wonder when to use which one and how to build the sentence which follows them – don’t worry, you will get to know everything now.
The two final conjunctions can be used as follows:
“Ich gehe früh schlafen, damit wir morgen früh losfahren können”
“Damit wir morgen früh losfahren können, gehe ich früh schlafen.”
As you can see in the example, “damit” can be used the same way, we would use “in order to” in English. If you use “damit”, the verb(s) of the sentence needs to be put to the end (which we like to do with conjunctions in German as you might already know). Also, “damit” gives you the opportunity to start a sentence with it as you can see in the second example. Using damit, you are also able to name two different subjects in both of your sentence parts (ich / wir).
um …. zu
“Ich gehe zum Sport, um fit zu sein.”
“Um fit zu sein, gehe ich zum Sport.”
This conjunction has the same meaning as “damit” and you can also start your sentence with it or put it in the middle. The main difference is, that when you use “um … zu”, you have to use the same subject in the “um … zu” part which was used in the main clause. So, if you want to use two different subjects, you need to use “damit”. Another thing that you need to take care of it, that the verb in your sentence is at the end of the sentence. It comes with a “zu” + the infinitive form of the verb (sein in our example) and therefore is not changed according to the subject as you can see in the case above.
Now, that you got to know the difference between “damit” and “um … zu” you can confidently use both of them at the right time.