I am a foreign learner of German.

Is there a difference beyond one of purely grammatical nature between coordinating, subordinating and adverbial conjunctions? If I have understood correctly, they are all connectors used to link sentences that would otherwise be separated. However, from what I've seen, there isn't anything necessarily intrinsic to each of these elements that would make one assume they belong to different morphological categories. Do the differences between them extend to simply the word order required by each of them in their respective applications? Or are they part of individual semantic fields I haven't been able to notice? In other words, is there a logical reasoning behind the inversions they produce, or are their effects upon sentence structure the result of spontaneous evolution over the course of history?

Thanks in advance!

  • My opinion: This classification is an artificial construction trying to plug a rule onto something that "simply exists". IMHO, native speakers learn the conjunctions and their ruling of word order and sentence structure on a piece by piece basis without even being aware such classes might exist.
    – tofro
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 7:18

1 Answer 1


Those categories of conjunctions exist in Englisch, too. ;)

The definition of a coordinating conjunction is, that it connects two grammatically independent clauses. Semantic only helps with und and oder, because they connect semanticly independent sentences. There is no further logic, I'm afraid.


Ich will Italienisch lernen. Ich fahre im Sommer nach Italien.
Ich will Italienisch lernen, denn ich fahre im Sommer nach Italien.
Ich will Italienisch lernen, weil ich im Sommer nach Italien fahre.

"Weil" and "denn" have exactly the same meaning here.

There aren't many coordinating conjunctions. The most frequent are :
und, oder, aber, doch (conjunction: same meaning as "aber"), denn, sogar

As for adverbial conjunctions: They refer to the content of the preceding sentences (usually more than one) and schould have a clause of their own. That's why an adverbial conjunction is considered to be position one, the finite verb is on position two.


Warum hast du gekündigt? (Why did you quit?)

Meine Mutter ist krank geworden und ich habe sie gepflegt. Das hat viel Zeit gekostet. Außerdem (besides) hat mir die Arbeit keinen Spaß gemacht. Mein Chef war sehr jähzornig (my boss had a violent temper). Deshalb (That's why) habe ich gekündigt.

You might find a listing of conjunctions of all three types useful: https://deutsch.lingolia.com/de/grammatik/satzbau/konjunktionen (Scroll down a bit)

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