German Adverbial Conjunctions — Mix it up, but watch your logic

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German Adverbial Conjunctions — Mix it up, but watch your logic

If you’re reading this and you live in Switzerland, Austria and or any place with winter and hills or mountains you may have tried skiing or ski on a regular basis. Learning a language is a lot like skiing. First you need to trust yourself to go down the piste. In language learning, that’s speaking. The first time you ski down a hill you’ll make mistakes and fall, but you get up and try it again. The same happens in languages. If you don’t try to speak then you can’t learn. In skiing there is technique which you learn in lessons and by practicing and getting the feel for it, pretty soon you don’t even think about it, it just comes naturally. With grammar it’s the same thing. You learn it, you consciously apply it. The more you use it, the more naturally it comes to you. But you need to speak.*

Alright, enough with the linguistic philosophizing and back to grammar. For the past two weeks we’ve been looking at different German conjunctions, which should help us to formulate more complex sentences. We’ve discussed coordinating conjunctions, where we essentially just combine two sentences without changing much. We might choose to replace the explicit noun for a pronoun or even not repeat the subject, but the word order pretty much stay the same. Then we looked at subordinating conjunctions where the verb in the subordinate clause goes to the end of the sentence. This week we’re going to look at conjunctional adverbs, which also links back our discussion from the three weeks before we started talking about conjunctions.

Conjunctional adverbs bring conditions and circumstances between ideas together and combine them. This might sound complex, but it’s not really as you do it all the time. But there are ten types of conjunctional adverbs, let’s take a look:

Unlike with coordinating conjunctions and subordinating conjunctions, the verb is placed differently in the adjoining sentence when we use adverbial conjunctions. Think of the adverbial conjunctions as a position. The verb comes in the second position and is followed by the subject.


Independent Claus (Hauptsatz) + Adverbial Conjunction + Dependent Clause (Nebensatz)

Subject + Verb1 + + (Verb2) + , + Adverbial Conjunction + Verb+ Subject + + (Verb2).

Ich kann ziemlich gut Ski fahren, schliesslich hatte ich eine ausgezeichnete Skilehrerin.

Conjunctional adverbs can also come at the start of a clause and build an entirely independent clause. When they are used at the start of a sentence, then that sentence has a logical relationship to the preceding sentence. Be careful here of your narrative logic and order of ideas. The second sentence must follow the first sentence.

Now let’s look at examples for the ten different usages:

1. kopulativ (think und)

Two ideas are placed together, but no further relationship is established.


  • Für den Sieg bekam Federer eine hohe Summe Geldes, ferner konnte er auch den Weltmeistertitel erhalten.
    • For the win Federer got a big sum of money, furthermore he was able to maintain the world champion title.

2. disjunktiv (think oder)

Of the two ideas presented, only one of them can be correct.


  • Sei ruhig, sonst gehen wir nach Hause.
    • Be quiet otherwise we’re going to go home.

3. adversative (think aber)

Two ideas are presented that oppose each other.


  • Ralph versucht immer Deutsch mit seinen Kunden zu sprechen, jedoch hat er heute es überhaupt nicht probiert. 
    • Ralph always tries to speak German with his clients, but today he didn’t even attempt it.

4. restriktiv 

An idea in one of the clauses limits the idea of the other clause.


  • Sie kann zwar gut singen, aber ein Star wird sie nicht.
    • She might be able to sing well, but she’ll never be a star.

5. kausal (think denn)

The second clause provides the reason for the idea or occurrence in the first clause.


  • Es gibt vier Jahreszeiten, nämlich Frühling, Sommer, Herbst und Winter.
    • There are four seasons, namely Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter.

6. konsekutiv

The second clause expresses the result of the action of the first clause.


  • Ich habe keine Lust wegzugehen, deshalb bleibe ich hier.
    • I have no desire to leave, that’s why I stay here.

7. konzessiv

The second clause gives a concession to the event or idea of the first clause.


  • Ich habe Lust wegzugehen, dennoch bleibe ich hier.
    • I want to leave, yet I stay here.

8. konditional

The second clause gives the result of what will happen if the actions of the first clause are not met.


  • Ich habe erst an 17 Uhr Zeit, ansonsten gehen wir einfach morgen einkaufen.
    • I only have time after 5pm, otherwise we’ll simply go shopping tomorrow.

9. lokal

These are used to provide location (not always literally) of objects in relation to the action or facts given in the first clause.


  • Sabine hat viele Geschenke bekommen. Darunter einige, die ihr nicht gefielen.
    • Sabine received many gifts. Some of which, she did not like.

10. temporal

  • Wir waren im Kino und sind danach gleich nach Hause gegangen.
    • We were in the cinema and after that went directly home.

And there we have it the ten uses of conjunctions. There are many of these adverbial conjunctions, so do not try and learn them all at once. I recommend that you tackle them a few at a time and try to incorporate them into your writing and speaking. Remember the word order changes the verb-subject order from the coordinating conjunctions.

*Just a small caveat here: Just like in sports (like skiing) once you get to a certain fluency in a language there bad habits will solidify. Native speakers of most languages make grammatical mistakes all the time and even the most regular skiers have their little quirks of things that are not textbook great form. 


Combine these sentences using adverbial conjunctions:


  • Man hat den Preis gesenkt. Mehr Kunden sollen dieses Produkt kaufen.
    • Man hat den Preis gesenkt, damit mehr Kunden dieses Produkt kaufen.
  1.  Der Bankräuber trug eine Maske. Man sollte ihn nicht erkennen.
  2. Max schliesst das Fenster. Keine Fliegen sollen ins Zimmer kommen.
  3. Ich habe Carmen eine E-Mail geschrieben. Sie soll mir mein Buch zurückgeben.
  4. Paul gibt seiner Tochter den Wagen. Sie soll die Tante vom Bahnhof abholen.
  5. Martina schneidet das Obst in kleine Stücke. Ihre Tochter soll mehr davon essen.
  6. Die Polizei macht Radarkontrollen. Die Autofahrer sollen nicht so schnell fahren.

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