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In an exercise, I was asked to rephrase the following sentence with weil:

Flugtickets kaufen wir am liebsten im Internet, denn wir können die Preise vergleichen.

The correct answer is, if I understood correctly

Flugtickets kaufen wir am liebsten im Internet, weil wir die Preise vergleichen können.

In English, this sentence would be

We prefer buying airplane tickets online, because then we can compare prices.

Note the presence of then, which is meaningful. The then implies some sort of causal relation between the first part (buying tickets online), and the second part (being able to compare prices, which is harder when you buy offline). The sentence without then might be technically correct but seems weird to me, and the same goes for the equivalent sentence in Dutch. There seems to be no element in the German sentence which plays the role of this then (I asked my German teacher about this, but I don’t think I got the question across properly.)

Other examples

  • I had to leave early, because then I would have sufficient time to switch trains in Hamburg.

  • We had to launch the satellite in August, because then we could make use of a gravity assist.

There is a logical relation here, indicated by the then: if I had not left early, I would not have had enough time to switch trains. If we had not launched in August, we would not have been able to make use of a gravity assist. Because then is very similar to in order to.

Contrast with:

  • I often eat bananas, because I like their taste.

  • I had to go to bed early because I was tired.

There is no then here, and no second-part-requires-first-part relation. I can like the taste of bananas whether or not I often eat them.

So, long story short: how does one say because then in German? And is there a way of saying it that distinguishes because then from because?

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The German translation of because then is actually pretty simple: weil… dann (or less common: denn dann).

You can rephrase the first sentence like this to make the causal relationship more apparent:

Flugtickets kaufen wir am liebsten im Internet, weil wir dann die Preise vergleichen können.

or

Flugtickets kaufen wir am liebsten im Internet, denn dann können wir die Preise vergleichen.

(in the second sentence I also added the second wir which you forgot in your example)

Using so instead of dann is also a possibility, but then you have put it after the pronoun.

The dann in this sentence can also be replaced with dort when you're talking about a place (usually a real physical location, but the Internet as a place works as well):

Flugtickets kaufen wir am liebsten im Internet, weil wir dort die Preise vergleichen können.

Flugtickets kaufen wir am liebsten im Internet, denn dort können wir die Preise vergleichen.

The meaning is probably not exactly the same, but it also puts stress on causality.

I am not exactly sure, though, to what extent using dann is considered colloquial. From the sound, I would actually prefer dort in this specific case. Phrasing the sentence without either dann or dort, however, sounds as strange as the English equivalent without then as there is no real connection between the main and the sub clause.

  • In your sentence why you prefer [...]denn dann können wir[...]? I think 'denn' doesn't break word order. Would '...denn wir können dann die Preise...' be wrong? – user1474062 Mar 7 '16 at 23:45
  • I don't know. denn dann können wir sounds better to me. denn wir können dann isn't necessarily wrong, but from the sound I would prefer the first one. Had to look that up in a grammar dictionary, though. Generally, I would read the second sentence with more stress on dann in the sense of dann und sonst nicht. – Janek Bevendorff Mar 7 '16 at 23:57
  • da is another alternative to weil and one could use a “Finalsatz” instead of a “Kausalsatz” to emphasize it’s a goal and not just a cause, e.g. damit wir die Preise vergleichen können (also sodass) or um die Preise vergleichen zu können. – Crissov Mar 8 '16 at 6:57
  • I disagree with preferring dort. Dort only implies the place (the internet), while dann can also emphasise wenn wir dort kaufen, dann … So I would prefer dann in this case. – Jan Mar 20 '16 at 23:13
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You can say: "Flugtickets kaufen wir am liebsten im Internet, weil wir so die Preise vergleichen können."

The "so" creates your causal relation.

Also possible: "Flugtickets kaufen wir am liebsten im Internet, weil wir dort die Preise vergleichen können."

  • Made the edit to my answer already. Not sure why, but while proofreading I skipped the already existing wir and added another one. After proofreading again I noticed that now there was one too many. :-) – Janek Bevendorff Mar 7 '16 at 17:06
  • Oder: "weil wir dann die Preise vergleichen können." Übrigens enden Sätze im Deutschen immer mit einem Satzzeichen und beginnen groß. – user unknown Mar 7 '16 at 18:01
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Because then is, as you assumed, translated by weil … dann … or … denn dann …; Dann can be replaced by so, dadurch and others. In fact, the original sentences seem wrong to me. I understand them to mean:

We prefer to buy plane tickets on the internet because regardless of where we buy, we are able to compare prices.

(It is hard to bring the meaning I perceive across properly. It’s an independent because we are physically able to compare prices. The first sentence could just as well be We often save money when buying plane tickets.)

If I were teaching German and received either of those as translations, I would mark them as wrong and note the position of the missing dann:

Flugtickets kaufen wir am liebsten im Internet, denn dann können wir die Preise verlgeichen.

Flugtickets kaufen wir am liebsten im Internet, weil wir dann die Preise vergleichen können.

This also holds true for your other examples:

  • Ich bin früher abgefahren, denn so (or: dann, dadurch, etc.) habe ich genug Zeit zum Umsteigen in Hamburg.

  • Wir haben den Satelliten im August in den Umlauf geschickt, denn dadurch (or: so, dann, etc.) konnten wir die Gravitation zu unserem Vorteil nutzen.

And note its absence in simple because sentences:

  • Ich esse ungern Bananen, weil ich ihren Geschmack nicht mag.

  • Ich bin früh ins Bett gegangen, weil ich müde war.

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