Mastering the Final Clauses in German: Understanding um zu and damit sentences

Mastering the Final Clauses in German: Understanding um zu and damit sentences

Summary: In this article, you will learn everything that you need to know about final clauses (Finalsatz) – a pivotal aspect of German grammar that shapes the way ideas are expressed. 

Introduction to Final Clauses in German Grammar

Understanding this topic is important for anyone learning German. These sentences are a unique feature of the language and are fundamental in expressing purpose or goals. They are dependent clauses and are introduced by conjunctions like 'um" and "zu" or 'damit'

What is a Final Clause?

Final clauses are dependent sentences that state the purpose or goal of the action or thing being described in the main clause. It is separated from the main clause with a comma.


  • Ich gehe in das Kino, um mir einen Film anzugucken. I go to the cinema to watch a movie.
  • Peter arbeitet viel, damit die Chefin zufrieden ist. Peter works hard to keep his boss happy.

The Role of um zu and damit

The words 'um" and "zu' or 'damit' are used to express a goal or purpose, while um zu is used with an infinitive constructions, the verb in a damit clause must be conjugated. From a linguistic perspective it is better to use um zu if it is possible.


  • Der Junge geht auf den Markt, um Gemüse zu kaufen. The boy goes to the market to buy vegetables.
  • Anna lernt viel und ist fleißig, um gute Noten zu bekommen. Anna studies a lot and works hard to get good grades.
  • Die Eltern kaufen ihren Kindern viele Geschenke, damit diese sich freuen. The parents buy their children lots of presents to make them happy.

Structuring Sentences

Understanding how to structure sentences is key. The conjugated verb comes with a damit sentence at the end, in case a um zu structure is used, then there stands an infinitive of the verb. 


  • Die Freunde fahren zur Party, um Spaß zu haben. 
  • Er kocht jeden Sonntag ein gesundes Abendessen, damit seine Familie sich ausgewogen ernährt.

Using Final Clauses Effectively with Examples

For most people it is easier to understand a grammar topic, when they have examples. In this section you can find many examples. 

Ich lerne jeden Tag Deutsch, um mich mit meinen deutschen Freunden unterhalten zu können.I learn German every day so that I can talk to my German friends.
Sie steht früh auf, um nicht im Stau zu stehen.She gets up early to avoid traffic jams.
Wir lesen die Anleitung sorgfältig, um Fehler beim Zusammenbau zu vermeiden.We read the instructions carefully to avoid mistakes during assembly.
Ich gebe meinem Bruder Nachhilfe, damit er seine Matheprüfung besteht.I'm tutoring my brother so that he can pass his math exam.
Die Lehrerin erklärt den Stoff langsam und deutlich, damit ihre Schüler alles gut verstehen können.The teacher explains the material slowly and clearly so that her pupils can understand everything well.
Der Chef organisiert ein Teambuilding-Event, damit seine Mitarbeiter besser zusammenarbeiten.The boss organizes a team-building event to help his employees work better together.

Difference to Infinitive sentence

A normal infinitive clause does not have a goal. 


  • Es ist verboten, hier zu rauchen. It is forbidden to smoke here.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

There are common pitfalls that learners should be aware of when using them. The most common misstates are that students use a um zu structure when it is not possible because there is another subject in the subordinate clause. Another mistake that happens often, is that students use the wrong conjugation of the verb or place the verb at the wrong position. 

Key Takeaways

  • 'Um', 'damit', and 'zu' are key conjunctions used. 
  • The conjugated verb typically comes at the end. 
  • Understanding subordinate clauses is crucial for complex German word order.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which two types of Finalsätze exist? 

  • The two different types are "um" and “zu” or “damit”.

Where can I practice the German Final Clauses with a free Quiz? 

You can find a free quiz for this topic: here.

How does the conjunction work? 

  • The conjugation when you have a damit structure follows the same German grammar rules of subordinate clauses. Um zu sentences place an infinitive at the end. You can read more about the German word order: here

Is it possible to answer with with a Final sentence? 

Of course it is possible. 

Can there be any issues or difficulties?

  • The word placement, choice of type of Finalsatz can be difficult. 

Where to place the subject? 

  • The um zu structure does not have a subject, the damit clause places the subject at the 1st position.

Comes the Final subordinate clause with a comma?

  • Yes, it comes always with a comma. 





Article by Niko

Published 26 Jan 2024