I have just learned German. I have heard a lot of people say the word "da" in conversation, but I don't know what it means. And dictionary doesn't help. Can somebody help me translate this word and give me some examples how to use it correctly.

  • Was ist das für ein Dictionary, das da nicht kennt? Commented Jan 21, 2013 at 21:56

5 Answers 5


Da is either a conjunction connecting the main clause with a causal clause or it is an adverb.

As a conjunction Duden defines three different usages one of which is archaic. The other two usages are quite common. First it has the meaning of because, since as in

Diese Frage ist einfach für mich, da Deutsch meine Muttersprache ist.

(This questions is quite simple for me, since [or because] German is my mother-tongue.)

The second usage as conjunction includes a temporal meaning.

Da ich jetzt ihre Aufmerksamkeit habe, möchte ich mit meinem Vortrag beginnen.

(Now that I have your attention, I'd like to start my presentation.)

As an adverb there are several different usages including spatial and temporal location:

Da vorne wohnt er. (There he lives.)

Von da an [=Seit diesem Moment] war absolute Ruhe. (From this moment there was ultimate silence.)

There are (= Da sind) more than those mentioned usages. For example da is also used in meaning of in this respect. More examples and usages are listed on Duden.

  • 2
    I'd like to add as as another translation: This question is quite simple for me as German is my mother-tongue. As I now have your attention, I'd like to start my presentation. As of that moment, there was silence.
    – ssc
    Commented Jan 23, 2013 at 19:31
  • @ssc your "as" translation is just a synonym for "since", except the last sentence. Could you translate that one for me? I am intrigued by the structure! Commented Feb 3, 2013 at 13:49
  • The translation is in the answer I commented on: As of that moment, there was silence. (a different way to say:) From this moment there was silence. (translation:) Von da an [=Von diesem Moment an (or) Seit diesem Moment] war Ruhe.
    – ssc
    Commented Feb 3, 2013 at 17:01

There are two meanings of da

  1. da familiar with dort
  2. da familiar with weil

Da ich hier bin, bin ich da.

I would translate it as "Since I'm here, I'm here."

  • and I can use "since" and "da" or "here" and "da" interchangeably? Or are there any rules?
    – toy
    Commented Jan 21, 2013 at 11:59
  • in case of temporal use of since (from) it would be wrong, in case of meaning there with the meaning of thither it would be wrong too.
    – bummi
    Commented Jan 21, 2013 at 12:05

In addition to what others explained, da before all means there. And just like in English, it's often used as fillword. That might the reason why you hear people say it in conversations rather frequently, e.g.

You have an interesting thought there.

Du hast da einen interessanten Gedanken.

  • What about "bis gleich wieder da" Does that fit as well?
    – toy
    Commented Jan 23, 2013 at 20:08
  • @toy "Bin gleich wieder da" is very common.
    – Em1
    Commented Jan 23, 2013 at 22:15
  • 1
    For example, you're in a restaurant with someone and excuse yourself to go to the restroom: "(Ich) bin gleich wieder da" - "I'll be back in a second". (However, I'm just noticing now that da in this case means here rather than there as you're referring to the current location - I'll be back here in a sec...) Another (better) example: You're talking on the phone to someone and announce your imminent arrival: "Bin gleich da" - "I'll be there in a sec".
    – ssc
    Commented Jan 24, 2013 at 9:23

In addition to the above, 'da' is also used with prepositions to 'step in' for the noun (a bit like a pronoun). A preposition requires a noun, as in example 1 below. We can replace 'vor dem Hund' with 'davor' if it is obvious what we are referring to, as in example 2. It can also refer to entire clauses, as in example 3.

1) Ich habe Angst vor dem Hund.

2) Ich habe Angst davor.

3) Ich habe Angst davor, dass mich der Hund beißt.

This works with many prepositions. (Sometimes you add an extra 'r' to prevent two vowels coming together).

*) Er kümmert sich um das Kind. Er kümmert sich darum. Er kümmert sich darum, dass das Kind zur Schule kommt.

*) Du hast dich mit dem Messer geschnitten. Du hast dich damit geschnitten.

*) Wir wissen alles über Mathe. Wir wissen alles darüber.

  • 1
    This answer is possibly off-topic, but still very useful for learners like myself, so +1. I recall learning that you must not use this transformation with people -- e.g. you must not turn "Ich habe Angst vor Markus" into "Ich habe Angst davor". Is this correct? Commented Mar 12, 2015 at 13:39
  • In fact, yourdailygerman.wordpress.com/2012/06/19/… seems to say that forms like "davor" would not be used for animals either... Commented Mar 12, 2015 at 15:12

Unfortunately @toy doesn't give examples. I suppose he is talking about sentences like

Ich habe da ein schönes Beispiel.

Donnerstag? Da kann ich nicht.

Also mit der Weihnachtsfeier, da weiß ich noch nicht, da muss ich erst mal mit den anderen sprechen.

Da in those sentences is a sort of general anaphoric pronoun meaning

concerning what we have just been talking about I'm saying that ...

As this discussion seems to be finished this subtle hint may be sufficient for the moment.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.