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By the way, tomorrow I'll go to the cinema.

Forming this sentence with "übrigens", it would be

(a) Übrigens werde ich morgen ins Kino gehen.

Can we form the sentence using "übrigens" and setting it off with a comma?

(b) Übrigens, ich werde morgen ins Kino gehen.

Also, how would we form a question with "übrigens"?

By the way, what will you do tomorrow?

Would it be this?

(c) Übrigens, was wirst du morgen machen?

If not, how would you translate that English question into German?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Yes, übrigens can be used as a stand alone. This is mostly done in spoken German though and there is a somewhat longer pause before the sentence comes. I feel like a simple comma would not do that justice so I'd write

Übrigens... ich habe gestern bei Aldi für eine Dose Tomaten nur 20 Cent bezahlt.

I don't know if it is correct but it is basically just capturing how it sounds. Anyway, as you said, übrigens can also be used as a commenting adverb and as such it can be put into various positions.

[Übrigens] habe ich/Ich habe [ ] gestern [ ] bei Aldi [ ] für eine Dose Tomaten [ ] nur 20 Cent bezahlt.

For questions, the "independent" introduction is by far the most idiomatic way but it can also work somewhere in the middle sometimes

Was willst du übrigens wegen deinem Rattenproblem machen?

This is a bit tricky though and it might sound totally out of place in other questions.

If you want to learn more about the background of the word and related words you can check out this article on my blog.

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2  
In "Was willst Du übrigens wegen Deinem Rattenproblem machen?" würde ich "eigentlich" statt "übrigens" und den Genitiv mit "wegen" benutzen: "Was willst Du eigentlich wegen Deines Rattenproblems machen?" –  Robert Jan 23 at 21:32
    
@Robert... ja das klingt auf jeden Fall besser. Aber ich hab' sowas auch schon mit "übrigens" gehört –  Emanuel Jan 23 at 21:42
    
"Nebenbei" könnte hier auch noch passen. "Nebenbei, was wirst du morgen machen?" –  gpinkas Jan 24 at 10:13
    
downvote? Why?? –  Emanuel Dec 3 at 21:39

As already mentioned, the sentence (b) is quite natural. In spoken language you rather use this structure than the other. Side note: you usually don't use the future tense but present tense instead when relating to the near future.

Übrigens, ich gehe morgen ins Kino.

Regarding question, I feel you won't use übrigens that much. I think some introducing phrases are more common. For example:

Wo wir gerade beim Thema sind – was machst du morgen?
Achja, wo du gerade davon sprichst – um wieviel Uhr wolltet ihr euch treffen?
Da fällt mir gerade ein, ich wollte dich noch fragen, ob du auch eingeladen bist?

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Das "by the way" in "By the way, what do you do tomorrow?" würde ich mit "Achja" oder "Achso" übersetzen: "Achja, was machst Du eigentlich morgen?"

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