There are two different ways to say “in order to” in German. While working as an online German teacher, I realized that many students find it tricky to decide on one or the other. After reading this article, you will know when to use “damit” or “um … zu”.
How to say “in order to” in German
There are two different ways to say “in order to” or respectively “to” in German: “damit” and “um … zu”. Now, you might wonder when you should use which one and how you can build a sentence with them. Luckily, you found this article because I will explain everything in detail in the following.
Using “damit” in German
“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 main verb 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” allows you 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).
Using “um …. zu” in German
“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 y 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 is, that the verb in your sentence takes the position at the end of the sentence. Also, you will need to use a “zu” which is followed by the infinitive form of the verb (sein in our example). Therefore, it 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.
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