How to Use “Damit” in German

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Der Damit-Song


This song was inspired by Smarter Ever Day Episode 133 – The Backwards Brain Bicycle (link at the bottom). When we watched this video, we got to the idea that this might be the solution to almost every learner’s problem with the German sentence structure. All we had to figure out was to transfer that video’s message to German learning.

I had already been using literal translation for more than 20 years but Maggie had the idea to write a song in “literally translated” English, meaning English with an underlying German sentence structure.

One day she presented me with a special version where there were both languages sung at the same time. “Literal” English on the left ear and proper German on the right one.

I was initially confused but then closed my eyes and listened to the song that I had only heard in German before. I realized that this might be something really great and this will certainly not be our last experiment to make your learning German easier with music and brain-friendly lyrics.

Sentence Structure in German – The German Subordinate Clause

The song’s aim is to help you understand how to use damit in the so-called Nebensätze (subordinate clauses), in which you’ll always find the verb at the end of sentences.

It is used to introduce final clauses and indicate purpose, much like “um zu”. The difference is that unlike “um zu,” which needs an infinitive verb, the conjunction “damit” is followed by a conjugated verb.

When using “um..zu”  the subject of the subordinate clause must be the same subject of the main clause, while with “damit”, the main and the subordinate clause can have two different subjects. The conjugated verb in the subordinate clause follows a comma.

Let’s look at an example with each:

  • “Ich lerne Deutsch, damit meine Kollegen mich besser verstehen.”
  • “Ich lerne Deutsch, um in Deutschland zu arbeiten.”

These structures cause every beginner trouble but with help of our little experimental song here we hope that you’ll start to like these Nebensätze and learn other types of clauses and conjunctions as well.

Now listen to the beautiful song and sing along. You’ll find the lyrics in English and German below.

(insert image)

And here’s the promised link to Smarter Every Day Episode 133.

FAQs about “damit”, German sentence structure, and more

Here are some questions people ask about this conjunction.

Is “Damit” a subordinating conjunction in German?

Yes, “Damit” is a subordinating conjunction in German. It is used to connect a subordinate clause to a main clause, indicating the purpose or goal of the action in the main clause.

How do you use “Wie” in a German sentence?

“Wie” can be used as a question word, conjunction, or adverb. As a question word, it means “how.”

As a conjunction, it means “as” or “like.” For example: “Sie singt wie ein Engel” (She sings like an angel). As an adverb, “wie” is also used to compare, as in “Er ist stark wie ein Bär” (He is as strong as a bear).

Summing Up: How to Use “Damit” in German

This article wanted to share some insights about using one of the subordinating conjunctions in German with our unique song.

We hope that Nebensätze with “Damit” sound much easier and more fun now and you’ve learned all about the difference between ”damit” and ”um zu.”

If you’d like to learn more, come check us out at SmarterGerman.