“Denn”, “da” and “weil” in German
In German, there are three main possibilities to name a reason: “weil”, “da”, and “denn”. We can translate all of them with the English “because” or “as”. Unlike the others, “denn” also stands for “since” with which one of course, also can give a reason.
In terms of grammar, we call the sentence part, which includes the given reason is a subordinate clause. It is the opposite of the main clause as “Ich gehe jetzt schlafen”. In German, this almost always means that we need to take care of the word order as it cannot stay the way we use it in the main clause.
Possibilities of giving a reason
In the following, I will explain the three most common options to give a reason.
Using “weil” in German
“Weil” is most likely the conjunction that we use the most in German. Accordingly, you will need to send the verb to the end of the sentence if you want to build a sentence with “weil”. You can imagine this situation as follows: Since the “weil” is stealing the verb’s position in line and it needs to line up all over again at the back:
- Ich bin müde, weil ich nicht gut schlafe.
- Wir haben kein Geld, weil wir keine Arbeit haben.
You can also flip the sentence and start with “weil”. But take care, that the second sentence part needs to begin with a verb then:
- Weil ich nicht gut schlafe, bin ich müde.
- Weil wir keine Arbeit haben, haben wir kein Geld.
Giving a reason with “da”
“Da” is the “little brother” of “weil” since it behaves the complete same way:
- Ich bin müde, da ich nicht gut schlafe.
- Wir haben kein Geld, da wir keine Arbeit haben.
You can also flip the sentence and start with “da”. But take care, that the second sentence part needs to begin with a verb:
- Da ich nicht gut schlafe, bin ich müde.
- Da wir keine Arbeit haben, haben wir kein Geld.
How to use “denn”
In contrast, “denn” differs a bit from the two previous conjunctions. It is more comfortable in use since one needs to add a “normal” sentence after it:
- Ich bin müde, denn ich schlafe nicht gut.
- Wir haben kein Geld, denn wir haben keine Arbeit.
Usually, one does not use “denn” to start a sentence.
After reading this article, you should know now how to use “denn”, “da” or “weil” to give a reason in German.
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