My understanding of the bei is used while something is happening, do something (simultaneous) e.g. (beim Essen sehe ich fern). Also I know that there is another meaning of putting it side (e.g. dabeihaben) e.g. Die Tankstelle ist bei dem Einkaufszentrum. However, this sentence is a bit ambiguous to translate:

Ein großer Teil der Dinge, die später auf den Müll kommen, wurde industriell produziert. Das kostet Arbeitskraft, Energie und Rohstoffe. Dabei gibt es zum Beispiel für Glas, Papier und Blechdosen eine viel bessere Lösung, nämlich das Recycling.

Here, dabei in my opinion refers to ein großer Teil der Dinge but what would it mean?

  • 2
    Dabei, während dessen, aber, jedoch Commented Dec 16, 2015 at 11:38

3 Answers 3


if I had to translate it in english, I would write "however".

So the "dabei" is not just used as preposition. In this case it can be seen as a kind of conjunction. It does not refer as you suspected to the phrase "ein großer Teil der Dinge" but instead means "However, there are better solutions for i.e. glas, paper and cans: recycling."

  • same opinion...
    – user19546
    Commented Dec 18, 2015 at 15:19

This use of "dabei" stresses that condition B is true while A holds and B renders A especially noteworthy, preposterous, funny...

Below I use unnatural English, trying to make it clear. The closest approximation might be "although" or "despite", but it is not a close one!

Er dachte ich sei Schotte, dabei spreche ich kaum Englisch. ~

He thought I was Scottish, and that's while I barely speak English.

Another one:

Sie hat es vergessen, dabei habe ich es ihr eben noch gesagt! ~

She forgot it, and that while I just told her!


Dabei has multiple meanings, one of which is a ‘semi-conjunction’ along the lines of obwohl, jedoch.

It is not a true one since it does not occupy the zero position in the sentence it introduces (dabei gibt … in your example) and since it would require an obligatory comma if you didn’t want to put a full stop.

However, it cannot be moved away from the first position of the sentence in question without seeming awkward or changing the meaning.

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