Subordinating conjunctions are used
to connect an independent and dependent clause together,
and they do affect word order. An independent
(or main) clause contains a subject and verb and
can stand alone as its own sentence. A dependent
(or subordinate) clause also contains a subject
and verb, but is introduced with a subordinating
conjunction and cannot stand alone as its own sentence.
There are also other conjunctions (called
coordinating) that do not affect word order. The
easiest way to tell the two types of conjunctions
apart is to memorize the coordinating ones. Und,
aber, denn - for/because, and oder are
the coordinating conjunctions. The rest of
the conjunctions act as subordinating, and interrogative
words can also act as subordinating conjunctions.
Some examples are als-when, bevor-before,
bis-until, damit-so that, dass-that,
wenn-if/when, ob-whether, obwohl-although,
nachdem-after, da-since, während-while,
weil-because, and wie-how.
1. In clauses introduced by subordinating
conjunctions, the conjugated verb is forced to the
end of the clause (not sentence) and a comma is
placed before the conjunction.
Ich bliebe zu Hause. Ich bin krank.
I'm staying home. I am sick.
Ich bliebe zu Hause, weil ich krank bin.
I'm staying home because I am sick.
(weil is the subordinating conjunction, and
bin must go to the end.)
Sie kommt nach zu dir. Sie hat
gegessen. She's coming to your place. She
Sie kommt nach zu dir, nachdem sie gegessen
hat. She's coming to your place after
she has eaten.
(nachdem is the sub. conjunction, and hat
must go to the end.)
However, when a double infinitive construction
is involved, the conjugated verb form precedes the
two infinitives. (The double infinitive always
goes to the end of the clause or sentence.)
Ich weiß nicht, ob er hat
mitkommen wollen. I don't know if he wanted
to come along.
2. When a sentence begins with
a subordinating conjunction, the main clause begins
with the conjugated verb in keeping with the normal
word order of German that states verbs are always
in the second position. The subordinate clause
becomes the first position, so the verb of the main
clause must occupy the second position.
Hans telefoniert mit Ihnen, während
Sie in Berlin sind. Hans will call you while
you're in Berlin.
Während Sie in Berlin sind, telefoniert
Hans mit Ihnen. While you are in Berlin,
Hans will call you.
(während is a subordinating conjunction,
and the subordinating clause occupies the first
position of the sentence, so the second position
must be occupied by the verb of the main clause,
3. If there is a separable prefix
verb in a dependent clause, the prefix remains attached
to the verb, and the entire verb goes to the end
of the sentence, whereas normally the prefix would
go to the end.
Er ist immer müde, wenn er früh
aufsteht. He is always tired when he gets
4. When there are two verbs in
a dependent clause (such as a modal and an infinitive),
the modal goes last, following the infinitive.
Er ist müde, wenn er früh aufstehen
muss. He is tired when he must get up