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How to use DANN, DEN, DENN!

Updated: Jun 16




Lets have a closer look at how to use German dann, den, denn - then, the and then again.


Nummer 1 - den.


denn or den?

The word denn has several functions and I will explain them in detail below.


Let's start with the word den. Den is a German definite article. But it can also be a relative pronoun.



Den as an article:

Accusative masculine singular - den

Dative plural - den


Example:

Der Junge, the boy

Der Hund, the dog

Der Junge füttert den Hund.

the dog = accusative masculine singular, therefore the article is den


Example:

Der Junge spielt mit den Hunden.

the dog = dative plural, therefore the article is den




dann or denn? And what's the difference?


Denn or dann - both words sound similar, but they shouldn't be confused!


As a German teacher I know these two words cause a lot of confusion. The following examples will help you understand the difference.


When do you use dann?

The use of dann is quickly explained!

We use then to describe a temporal sequence. Something happens after something else has happened: Zuerst mache ich meine Hausaufgaben, dann treffe ich meine Freunde.


When do you use denn?

Using denn is a bit more difficult. But the following examples will help you understand the usage.

The word denn in the sense of weil/because

The word denn can be used to give a reason. In this case, it has the same meaning as the word weil.

Ich fahre mit dem Fahrrad, denn der Bus kommt immer zu spät.

Heute gehe ich nicht zur Arbeit, denn ich fühle mich krank.


Quick tip!

You can also use weil instead of denn in these cases, but then the word order changes!


Ich fahre mit dem Fahrrad, weil der Bus immer zu spät kommt.

Heute gehe ich nicht zur Arbeit, weil ich mich krank fühle.


When do we use the word denn as a filler word or as a modal particle?

We use the word denn as a modal particle when we want to emphasise a certain aspect of a message or express the mood of the speaker.


Wie geht es dir?

Wie geht es dir denn?


What is the difference?

Adding the word denn to the sentence above does not change the meaning of the sentence, but it does make it clear that the speaker is a little more concerned and interested in hearing the answer.


Dialogue with the modal particle denn

Note that the word denn (when used as a filler word or modal particle) is often not really necessary and only serves to clarify the speaker's mood.


A: Hey, ich muss dir etwas beichten.

B: Ja, was denn?

A: Ich habe meine neue Sonnenbrille verloren.

B: Oh nein, wo denn?

A: Im Park.

B: Warum warst du denn mit einer Sonnenbrille im Park? Es regnet doch. Bist du denn verrückt?



A: Hey, I have to confess something to you.

B: Yeah, what?

A: I lost my new sunglasses.

B: Oh no, where?

A: In the park.

B: Why were you in the park with sunglasses? It's raining. Are you crazy?



Wichtig!

Did you notice that the word denn was only used in questions here? This is no coincidence. We only use the word denn (when used as a filler word or modal particle) in questions!





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