Subordinate Clause of Purpose

A subordinate clause of purpose expresses purpose, intention or goal. From the point of meaning, a subordinate clause is an incomplete sentence which supplements the main clause. In most cases, a subordinate clause cannot occur without the main clause. From the point of grammar, a subordinate clause is complete sentence with a subject and a conjugated verb.

To introduce a subordinate clause of purpose, conjunctions damit and dass are used. If the subject of the main and subordinate clauses is the same, German uses um... zu + Infinitive, a very useful construction which means in order to do. There is always a comma before um. The verb in the second half of the sentence is in the infinitive and always goes to the end.

Ich brauche eine Taschenlampe, um den Schlüssel zu finden. - I need a flashlight to find the key.

Wie lange haben Sie denn gebraucht, um dahin zu kommen? - How long did it take you to drive there?

Wir sind hier angekommen, um dich zu sehen. - We have come here to see you.

Um nach Hamburg zu fahren, nehme ich den Zug. - I take a train to go to Hamburg.

If the verb in the infinitive has a separable prefix, zu is inserted between the prefix and the stem of the verb.

Es ist nie zu früh, um anzufangen. - It's never too early to start.


Grammar Patterns

Listening Comprehension