How to express a purpose or objective in German

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How to express a purpose or objective

We use damit (so that) or um... zu (in order to) to express a purpose or objective:

  • The conjugated verb comes at the end of a sentence section containing damit:

Anna macht Sport, damit sie gesund bleibt.

Anna exercises so that she stays healthy.

Damit ihre Familie in den Urlaub fahren kann, arbeitet sie.

She works so that her family can take a vacation.

  • When using the infinitive construction um... zu, the subject must be the same in both parts of the sentence. Um comes after the comma, while zu + infinitive are at the end of the sentence:

Anna macht Sport, um gesund zu bleiben.

Anna exercises in order to stay healthy.

Sie arbeitet, um in den Urlaub fahren zu können.

She works in order to be able to take a vacation.

We use zum + a verb being used as a noun to express a purpose:

Ich benutze die Brille zum Tauchen. (tauchen → das Tauchen)

I use the goggles for diving. (to dive → the diving)

Ich benutze die Schuhe zum Laufen. (laufen → das Laufen)

I use the shoes for running. (to run → the running)

Note

  • We use sentences with damit or um... zu to answer the questions wozu (why?) and wofür (what for?):

-Wozu schläfst du so viel? -Damit ich nicht müde bin.

Why are you sleeping so much? ‑So that I'm not tired.

-Wofür lernst du? -Um meine Prüfung zu bestehen.

What are you studying for? ‑In order to pass my exam.


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