How to learn Dependent Clauses in German Grammar

Dependant clauses, also called subordinate clauses, can't stand as independent clauses, they always depend on a main clause. Dependent and independent clauses are separated by a comma.

For dependent clauses, pay attention to the word order - the finite or conjugated verb is at the end of the sentence.

Example: Ich weiß nicht, ob sie mir hilft. I don't know if she will help me.

When a dependent clause is placed in front of a main clause, the main clause starts with the finite verb.

Example: Ob sie mir hilft, weiß ich nicht. I don't know if she will help me.


Coordinating conjunctions link two main clauses. Subordinating conjunctions and conjunctional adverbs link main/independent clauses to dependent/subordinate clauses. Using subordinating conjunctions and conjunctional adverbs modifies the word order in the sentence.

Learn all you need to know about word order and conjunctions in German grammar with the GermanMind method. You can practice what you've learned in the exercises.

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Coordinating conjunctions
In a sentence started by a conjunction, the sentence structure is exactly the same as in a main clause (conjunction + subject + finite verb + ...).

Some example conjunctions are: aber, denn, oder, und
Inge und Otto sind glücklich, denn sie haben Urlaub. Inge and Otto are happy because they are on vacation.

In a sentence started by a subjunction, the finite verb is at the ending of the sentence (subjunction + subject + ... + finite verb).

Some examples of subjunctions (subordinating conjunctions) are: bevor, da, dass, falls, weil, wenn
Example: Sie machen Urlaub an der Nordsee, weil sie das Meer lieben. They are going on vacation to the North Sea because they love the sea.
Dependent clauses started by a subjunction are known as conjunctional clauses.

Conjunctive adverbs
In a sentence that is introduced by a conjunctional adverb, the finite verb comes before the subject (conjunctional adverb + finite verb + subject + ...).

Some of the examples of conjunctional adverbs are: dann, schließlich, trotzdem, zuvor

Otto will den Sonnenuntergang sehen, deshalb sind sie jetzt am Strand. Otto wants to see the sunset, so now they are at the beach.


German conjunctions