German Transition Words


If you’re going to be speaking German in your daily life, you need to learn German transition words so that you can piece together an excuse with a long sentence.

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A “transition word” or “transition phrase” are words/phrases that are used to show the relationship between clauses, sentences, or even paragraphs. They help us created cohesion by illustrating how different ideas relate to each other based on different elements, including time or sequence, comparison, cause and effect, contrast, emphasis  or direction. A transition word can be an adverb or a conjunction (coordinating or subordinating). 

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When using transition words or phrases in German, we need to be careful with how the word order may change. For example, if a subordinating conjunction functions as a transition word, we need to remember the word order of a subordinate clause. If we put a transition word (or any element really) in first position or a sentence or clause, we create inverted word order. 

Ich fuhr nachts nach hause. Auf einmal sprang ein Reh auf die Strasse. 
I drove home at night. Suddenly a deer jumped onto the road. 

Ich fühle mich heute nicht so gut, deshalb bleibe ich heute zu hause. 
I don’t feel so good today, therefore I’m staying home today. 

In the two examples above, the transition words were placed in first position, creating inverted word order. But transition words can also be moved to different parts of the sentence. 

Ich habe zukünftig keine Zeit mehr.  I do not have time in the future. 
Er hat mittlererweile keine Lust mehr.  Meanwhile he doesn’t feel like it anymore. 
Here is a list of  additional transition words or phrases and their common (but not exclusive) purpose:

transition words part ii jpg

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Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

The CEFR is an international standard used to describe language ability. Here are specific details of the CEFR for this topic.

General Explanation:

Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment). Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters. Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.

Specific Capabilities at this Level

I can write short, simple notes and messages relating to matters in areas of immediate needs. I can write a very simple personal letter, for example thanking someone for something.
Spoken Production:
I can use a series of phrases and sentences to describe in simple terms my family and other people, living conditions, my educational background and my present or most recent job.
Spoken Interaction:
I can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar topics and activities. I can handle very short social exchanges, even though I can’t usually understand enough to keep the conversation going myself.
I can read very short, simple texts. I can find specific, predictable information in simple everyday material such as advertisements, prospectuses, menus and timetables and I can understand short simple personal letters.
I can understand phrases and the highest frequency vocabulary related to areas of most immediate personal relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local area, employment). I can catch the main point in short, clear, simple messages and announcements.