“Obwohl” and “Obgleich” (Concessive Clauses)

What are Concessive Clauses?

Concessive clauses are subordinate clauses that express an opposing idea or a limitation. That means something that doesn't logically follow from the main clause or is different than what you'd expect.

They begin with either "obwohl" or "obgleich."

Difference between Causal and Concessive Clauses

Causal Clauses (= logically connected)

  • Ich habe die Prüfung bestanden, weil ich viel gelernt habe.
    The logical outcome of the condition "viel lernen" is "die Prüfung bestehen."
  • „Weil ich viel Geld habe, kaufe ich mir ein neues Auto.“
    The expected result of the condition "viel Geld haben" is "ein neues Auto kaufen."

Concessive Clauses (= unexpected outcome)

  • „Ich habe die Prüfung nicht bestanden, obwohl ich viel gelernt habe.“
    In this case the expectation wasn't met. You would think that studying a lot would lead to passing the exam, but in this case it didn't happen.
  • Obwohl ich viel Geld habe, kaufe ich mir kein neues Auto.”
    In this case, it's logical that having a lot of money would lead to buying a car. However, I didn't buy a car.

Summary

  • Concessive clauses are subordinate clauses that express an opposing idea or limitation.
  • The subordinate clause talks about something that doesn't logically follow from the main clause or is different from what you’d expect.
  • The conjunctions are "obwohl" and "obgleich" (there is no difference between "obwohl" and "obgleich").

Related Topics:

An overview of subordinate clauses.

Subordinate conjunctions and how to use them: "dass," "weil/da," "obwohl," "wenn/falls," "so dass," "indem," and "als/wenn."

Infinitive clauses (infinitive + "zu") and infinitive constructions ("um" / "anstatt" / "ohne… zu") are also subordinate clauses.

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