Modal Clauses

What are Modal Clauses?

Modal clauses are subordinate clauses that answer the question "how?"

In German, the questions words are: "Wie?" "Wodurch?" "Auf welche Art und Weise?"

Modal clauses start with the conjunctions "indem" or "dadurch / ohne / anstatt dass…" You can also use the infinitive phrases "ohne… zu…" and "anstatt… zu…"

"indem" and "dadurch dass"

"Indem" and "dadurch dass" explain exactly how the goal was reached.

Wie / wodurch / auf welche Art und Weiße kann man Millionär werden?

  • „Man kann Millionär werden, indem man im Lotto gewinnt.“
  • „Man kann Millionär werden, dadurch dass man hart arbeitet.“
  • „Man kann dadurch Millionär werden, dass man etwas erbt.“

What’s the goal? → How do I reach that goal?

"Dadurch dass" can be separated like "so dass" (Consecutive Clauses). When doing this, the main clause MUST come first, and "dadurch" comes before the goal / result.

"ohne dass" / "ohne… zu…"

"Ohne dass" and "ohne… zu" express what was not done.

"Ohne dass" is a normal subordinate clause (verb at the end!) and "ohne… zu…" is an infinitive construction.

Examples:

  • „Ich gehe an den Strand, ohne dass ich eine Badehose trage.“
  • „Ich gehe an den Strand, ohne eine Badehose zu tragen.“

"Ohne… zu…" can only be used when the subject is obvious (i.e. the same as in the main clause). You can read more about infinitive constructions in general here.

"anstatt dass" / "anstatt… zu…"

"Anstatt dass" and "anstatt… zu…" describe a potential alternative that is NOT being done.

"Anstatt dass" is a normal subordinate clause (verb at the end!) and "anstatt… zu…" is an infinitive construction.

Examples:

  • „Ich schwimme im Pool, anstatt dass ich im Meer schwimmen gehe.“
  • „Ich schwimme im Pool, anstatt im Meer schwimmen zu gehen.“

= „Ich schwimme im Pool und nicht im Meer.“

"Anstatt… zu…" can only be used when the subject is clear from the context.

Word Order

"Indem," "dadurch dass," and "ohne/anstatt dass" are used at the beginning of subordinate clauses. That means the verb goes at the end.

"Ohne/anstatt… zu…" are infinitive constructions. That means "ohne" / "anstatt" goes after the comma and the zu + infinitive goes at the end.


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.

Leave a Comment:

Add Your Reply