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My questions are:

  1. In what contexts are they used?

  2. Are they interchangeable?

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Although you got a good answer, you gave us no context for this question, and a quick look at Duden, Wiktionary,, or Leo, could've shown the difference between these two words. – thekeyofgb Dec 29 '13 at 11:51
Since zumal can be also used as a coordinating conjunction I can see that there is confusion. I don't think this question deserves downvotes. – Emanuel Dec 29 '13 at 21:34
up vote 5 down vote accepted

In the adverbial use of zumal, it's related to besonders by, so to say, the following equivalence:

zumal = besonders weil


Ich würde nie wieder diese Partei wählen, zumal sie letzes Jahr nur Scheiße gebaut hat.

Ich würde nie wieder diese Partei wählen, besonders weil sie letzes Jahr Scheiße gebaut hat.

But it is conjunction as well, meaning auch weil (and besides, according to Emanuel's comment):

Er war wegen seiner lockeren Art beim Chef nicht besonders beliebt, zumal er häufig zu spät kam.

as one sees from Wiktionary.

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I'd like to add that "zumal" can also carry the meaning "and besides"... it doesn't always focus as much as "besonders" does. So every "besonders weil" can be a "zumal" but not ice versa – Emanuel Dec 29 '13 at 21:25

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