German Grammar Explained /

Alternatives to "weil"

The best known way of justifying or explaining things in German is using the conjunction weil. Loosely translated, this translates as “because”. But there are a couple of other words that can be used as alternatives to weil.
Ich bin glücklich, weil das Wetter schön ist. I am happy because the weather is nice.
Another way of revealing the reason why things happen is to use the conjunction denn. The only difference between weil and denn is the structure of the subordinate clause of the sentence that gives us the reason.
Ich bin glücklich, denn das Wetter ist schön. I am happy because the weather is nice.
Notice how the verb is moved to the end of the sentence with weil, but remains in the second position of the subordinate clause with denn.
But that’s not all! There are other ways of doing this as well. Two of these are using the Genitive and wegen and dank.
Wegen/Dank des schönen Wetters, bin ich glücklich. Due to/thanks to the nice weather, I am happy.
It is important to note that the Genitive is rarely used in everyday speech and replaced with the Dative instead. Remember to ALWAYS use the genitive in writing though!
The main difference between these two alternatives for weil is the nature of the explanation given.
Wegen is used to explain a neutral motive, ie it doesn’t value it as being something positive or negative.
Dank on the other hand has a positive connotation - the motive is assumed to be something that is good.
Wegen des schlechten Wetters wurde die Feier verschoben.
(In writing) The party was postponed due to the bad weather.
Wegen seinem Husten ist er nicht zur Arbeit gekommen.
(In everyday speech)
He didn't come to work due to his cough.
Dank seiner Hilfe hat sie den Job bekommen.
(In writing)
She got the job thanks to his help.
Dank dir konnte ich mich vor der Prüfung beruhigen.
(In everyday speech)
I could calm down before the exam thanks to you.
But there's more!
Prepositions “infolge” and “aufgrund”
Die Grillparty wurde verschoben, weil das Wetter schlecht ist. The barbecue was postponed because the weather is bad.
The above sentence could be reformulated as follows.
Aufgrund des schlechten Wetters, wurde die Grillparty verschoben. Infolge des schlechten Wetters, wurde die Grillparty verschoben. Because of the bad weather, the barbecue was postponed. As a consequence of the bad weather, the barbecue was postponed.
However, infolge and aufgrund are a bit more formal, so it is unusual to hear them in everyday speech. You might find them in writing though!
The prepositions infolge and aufgrund are always in the genitive.
For the grammar nerds:
They are almost synonymous, but you can't always use infolge where you might use aufgrund!
There is on small difference in their meanings:
- Infolge (→ Folge) emphasizes the connection between two different things when one is a consequence (hint: it follows) the other one.
- Aufgrund (→ Grund) on the other hand, highlights the thing or person that caused the situation.
One last example to recap:
Dank deiner Ausdauer beim Deutsch lernen kannst du es jetzt schon sehr gut!
We'll leave you to work out what that one means for yourself ;)