German ‘boot words’

Quick tips, rather than long-winded lessons, that can be used on the go.

“I like ice-cream because it sweet is.”
“I am tired if I early get up.”

Ok, reading that sentence didn’t feel natural, right? That’s because the verb has been booted to the end of the sentence, just like it is in German. However, just because we know the word order is correct when we say these sentences in German, it doesn’t mean that it feels right.

As you may already know, in German, following boot words (or subordinate conjunctions) the verb is sent to the end of the sentence:

I like ice-cream. It is sweet.
I like ice-cream because it is sweet.
Ich mag Eis, weil es süß ist.

I am tired. I get up early.
I am tired, if I get up early.
I am tired, wenn ich früh aufstehe.

This is easy in theory, but when putting your German into practice, it’s a lot to think about. We need to be realistic. Rather than setting yourself the impossible task of learning all the boot words at once, focus on 3 boot words that you regularly use (for me these were ‘weil’, ‘wenn’ and ‘als’), and concentrate on booting the verb to the end of the sentence when using them. Once you get the hang of that, you can focus on your next set of boot words to start practicing with.

Here’s a list to choose from:

  • als – when (past tense)
  • als ob – as if
  • bevor – before
  • bis – until
  • da – as, because
  • damit – so that, in order that
  • dass – that
  • nachdem – after, afterwards
  • ob – whether, if
  • obwohl – although
  • seitdem – since
  • so dass – so that
  • während – while
  • weil – because
  • wenn – when (present tense), if

Once you’ve chosen your boot words to focus on, make a conscience effort to slow down and take the time to move the verb to the end of the sentence when using these words. You may not get it right the first time, or even the third, but patience is a virtue – especially when learning German!

Remember, when writing, there is always a comma before the boot word. It might look odd to start with, but you’ll adapt with time 😊

Small and realistic steps lead to big achievements, so please keep this in mind and don’t be too hard on yourself. Best of luck!

4 thoughts on “German ‘boot words’

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      1. Thank you for the response. Its now clear.
        “Du hast mich angerufen, als ich gerade gehen wollte” => “You called me just as I was about to leave.”

        Liked by 1 person

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