1. Main Clauses
  2. Connecting Sentences
  3. Coordinating Conjunctions

A clause is a group of words with a subject and a verb that relate to one another. A sentence can have just one clause, or several of them. There are numerous ways to combine different types of clauses in German – but to do that, you first need to learn the basics.



Ich kann auf Deutsch lesen und schreiben.

I can read and write in German.

Main Clauses

Rule 1: The statement sentence or main clause (also called an independent clause) has a full stop at the end and is the most common German sentence. It is grammatically complete, can stand alone, and has meaning. They can have as minimum as a subject, a verb, and an object:



Ich habe einen Hund.

I have a dog.

...or be more elaborated:



Der Lehrer hat mir gestern im Unterricht eine schlechte Note gegeben.

The teacher gave me a bad mark yesterday in class.

Rule 2: Independent clauses can be part of complex and compound sentences when used with other independent or dependent clauses. We will learn more about different types of German dependent clauses in A2 level.

Connecting Sentences

Rule 3: Conjunctions are words that connect clauses. There are 3 types of connectors:

- Coordinative conjunctions (i.e. "und", "aber", ...) are simple and do not change the word order. They are often used in either simple sentences to connect words or in complex sentences that include two or more independent clauses.
- Subordinate conjunctions (i.e. "als", "damit", "bevor", "bis", "weil") which push the verb to the end of the clause. They are used in complex or compound sentences with dependent clauses.
- Compound conjunctions (i.e. "entweder...oder" as either/or, "sowohl...als auch" as as well as) can join two independent expressions into one sentence.

Let's take a closer look at the basic coordinating conjunctions:

Coordinating Conjunctions

Rule 4: A coordinating conjunction connects two sentences or words. The conjunction is always put between two sentences and thus is not a part of them:

  • sentence 1 + conjunction + sentence 2

As mentioned, coordinating conjunctions don’t disturb the word order of the German sentence.

The most common coordinating conjunctions are:

und and
oder or
aber but
denn because
sondern rather
doch however



Wer fängt an, du oder ich?

Who starts, you or me?

Rule 5: If the verb and/or subject is the same in both main clauses, they can be omitted in the second one:



Ich trinke einen Wein und ein Bier.

I'll have a wine and a beer.

instead of:



Ich trinke einen Wein und ich trinke ein Bier.

I'll have a wine and I'll have a beer.