How to Say ‘Because’ in German: 3 Easy Ways

because in german

Once you’ve started to get the hang of German, you might want to move away from creating really basic sentences and start add a bit more information and detail. There are so many situations where you may want or need to give reasons, so you’ll soon need to learn how to say ‘because’ in German.

There are actually 3 ways to say ‘because’ in German: weil, da and denn. After reading this post you’ll know:

  • The 3 main words for ‘because’ in German & when they’re used
  • How these words affect German word order
  • How to create complex sentences & give reasons

Weil: The main word for ‘because’ in German

Our first word is by far the most common word for ‘because’ in German. Weil is used in a similar way to how we use ‘because’ in English, to give reasons and explanations.

We provide a statement about something, and use weil to give the reason. Without weil we’d be left on tenterhooks wondering about the ‘why’.

Ich lerne Deutsch.I’m learning German.
Warum?Why?
Ich finde es interessant.I find it interesting.

Using weil allows us to connect these two statements together, to save the other person asking ‘why?’

Ich lerne Deutsch, weil ich es interessant finde.
I’m learning German because I find it interesting.

Now we’ve connected up the statement: ich lerne Deutsch, with the reason: ich finde es interessant.

What does weil do to sentence structure?

So now you know how weil is used to connect a statement with a reason, but did you notice something strange going on in the example above?

When weil is used the ‘reason’ part of the sentence changes it’s word order: weil ich es interessant finde not weil ich finde es interessant.

Weil is known as a subordinating conjunction, which is one of a group of conjunctions that create a subordinate clause. The subordinate clause demands that the conjugated verb gets thrown out of the usual verb position 2, and is flung to the end of the sentence.

Main ClauseSubordinate Clause
Ich lerne Deutsch,weil ich es interessant finde.
Position 0 (weil)Position 1 (Subject)Position 2Other InfoEnd (Conj. Verb)
weilichfindees interessantfinde.
becauseIfindit interestingfind.

Just like in English, sentences giving reasons can be inverted and weil can begin the sentence:

Ich musste zu Fuß gehen, weil ich die Straßenbahn verpasst habe.
I had to walk because I missed the tram.
Weil ich die Straßenbahn verpasst habe, musste ich zu Fuß gehen.
Because I missed the tram, I had to walk.

If we invert the sentence the word order changes a bit again and we need to follow the verb-comma-verb rule. You can follow the link for a detailed explanation but the short version is:

The subordinate clause (starting with weil) sends the verb to the end, right? We then use a comma (,) to separate the two clauses. Then comes the main clause, but due to the inversion, the main clause must start with the verb, hence verb-comma-verb.

Subordinate ClauseCommaMain Clause
Weil ich die Straßenbahn verpasst habe,musste ich zu Fuß gehen.
(Because I the tram missed have,had I to walk).

Da: As an alternative to weil

Da is very closely related to weil, it’s used in exactly the same way. Since da is also a subordinating conjunction, it affects word order in the same way as weil.

It’s still important to remember that you’ll hear and use weil in the vast majority of situations to say ‘because’ in German. That being said, da is often used as an alternative to avoid repetition when weil has already recently been used.

So if you’re reeling off quite a bit of information in multiple sentences and you’ve just said weil, use da if you need to say ‘because’ again.

Sentence 1
Ich lerne Deutsch, weil ich es interessant finde.
I’m learning German because I find it interesting.
Sentence 2
Da ich schon eine Weile lerne, kann ich ziemlich gut sprechen.
Because I’ve been learning for a while, I can speak quite well.

You may have noticed in sentence 2 that da could also be translated as ‘since’: ‘since I’ve been learning for a while…’

Again because da is a subordinating conjunction and sentence 2 has been inverted (so da begins the sentence), we have to observe the verb-comma-verb rule: lerne, kann.

Denn: The formal sounding ‘because’ in German

And now we come to our third and final way of saying ‘because’ in German. Now the thing to bear in mind with denn, is that it’s a bit different to our old friends weil and da.

The good news is that denn is known as a co-ordinating conjunction. This means that assuming you’ve got your head around standard German sentence structure, denn shouldn’t give you any problems because it doesn’t mess around with the structure at all.

Ich muss bis 20 Uhr arbeiten, denn ich muss diese Aufgabe erledigen.
I have to work until 8pm because I must finish this task.

You can see in this example that denn behaves in the same way as other co-ordinating conjunctions like und (and), aber (but), ohne (without) etc. and doesn’t mess with the standard word order.

Great! You may be thinking, I’ll just use denn all the time instead of weil. Not sooo fast! Our beloved German doesn’t want to make things too easy, you’re going to have to get used to using weil, and all the word order gymnastics it insists on.

Denn has a different ‘feel’ to it compared to our other ‘because’ words. It has a bit more of a serious sound to it. Imagine that you’re scrapping the word ‘because’ altogether and using something a bit more ‘wordy’ and formal sounding in English like: ‘for the reason that…’ or ‘owing to the fact that…’

‘I have to work until 8pm owing to the fact that I must complete this task’.

Suddenly things sound a bit more serious.

You’re more likely to see denn in use in written German than spoken German. For the majority of the time you’ll find weil the best word for the job. You just need to keep chipping away at the conjugated-verb-going-to-the-end mental gymnastics.

Bonus Word 1: Wegen

So that’s the big 3 players out of the way. I just want to leave you with a couple of bonus ‘because’ words as I find them particularly useful.

First up we have wegen which translates as ‘because of’. We can use wegen to ‘attach’ something to a reason and make something accountable for ‘why’ we’re doing something. Here are some examples:

Wegen des schönen Wetters, fahre ich zum Strand.
Because of the nice weather, I’ll go to the beach.
Ich habe wegen der Party meines Nachbarn nicht gut geschlafen.
Because of my neighbour’s party I didn’t sleep well.

Bonus Word 2: Darum

If someone is asking you a ‘why’ question and you either don’t have an answer or don’t want to answer, there’s a handy word you can use to evade the question: darum! It’s a bit like answering a ‘why’ question with ‘just because!’

Warum?Why?
Darum!Because it is!

4 Comments

  1. Ich habe wegen der Party meines Nachbarn nicht gut geschlafen this sentence translates to I did not sleep well because of my neighbours party and If we want to begin with because of then should we begin with wegen der party?

    1. You’re absolutely right Beryl, wegen can be inverted so we could say: Ich habe wegen der Party meines Nachbarn nicht gut geschlafen OR Wegen der Party meines Nachbarn habe ich nicht gut geschlafen.

      I’ll change that example to make it clearer.

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