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Da- & Dar- compound words and their meaning

German can use words formed by affixing da– or dar– to the beginning of a
preposition in order to refer back to something. In its most basic usage, we usually
translate a da– compound into English as a preposition followed by a pronoun.

Er hat einen Bleistift. Er schreibt damit.


He has a pencil. He is writing with it.

Hier ist ein Stuhl. Sie sitzt darauf.


Here is a chair. She is sitting on it
So here, the it part along with the preposition for eg: “with+it” becomes damit and
“on+it” becomes darauf. Note: This “damit” is different from the “damit” which means
“so that” which we use to describe a certain purpose. (Studied in A2 Chapter 12)

Note that the form dar– is used when the preposition begins with a vowel.

Some common “Da” words

In older forms of English and often in English-language legal documents, there are a
large variety of words formed with the prefix there-, such as “therefore,” “thereby,”
“therein,” “thereafter,” etc. In German there are a number of similar adverbs, which
represent special meanings of da– compounds (remember that one of the meanings
of da is “there”).
Be sure not to confuse these da– words with the da– compounds described above.
The difference is that these adverbs use da– to refer not to a specific object already
mentioned in the text, but rather to a more abstract concept, such as a time or logic
relationship. Da– words have their own entries in your dictionary, whereas
simple da– compounds as above do not.
Sie bringt immer einen Regenschirm, damit sie nie naß wird.
She always brings an umbrella, so that she never gets wet.
Er sprang von der Mauer. Dabei brach er das Bein.
He jumped from the wall. In the process he broke his leg.

Sie kaufte die Aktien rechtzeitig und wurde dadurch reich.


She bought the stock at the right time and thereby became rich.

Ich habe kein Geld. Dafür bin ich gesund und glücklich.
I have no money. Instead I’m healthy and happy.

Following are some commonly used da– words:

dabei in the process, in this matter, there, at the same time, as well

dadurch thereby, in doing so

dafür instead, on the other hand

dagegen but, in comparison, on the other hand, whereas

daher therefore, that is why

damit so that, because of that, with that / this

danach accordingly

compared with (something or someone), at the same time, as well as


daneben (something, that)

darauf after that

darin in this respect

darüber
hinaus beyond that, furthermore

darum because of that

darunter among them

dazu along with (it / that), in addition to (it / that), for (it / that), about (it / that)
Da– Clauses

Some da– compounds are used before a clause beginning with daß or a dependent infinitive
construction with zu. These are anticipatory da– words:

Mein Vater hat nichts dagegen, daß wir oft ins Kino gehen.
My father has nothing against the fact that we go to the movies often.
[or:] My father has nothing against our going to the movies often.

Wir denken oft daran, nach Deutschland zu reisen.


We often think of travelling to Germany.

In both of these sentences, the da– compound serves the grammatical function of allowing
the entire dependent clause to serve as the object of the preposition within the da– compound.
In other words, in the first sentence, you are learning to recognize that the entire daß clause is
the object of the preposition gegen. Likewise, in the second sentence, the dar– prefix serves
like a signpost so that you will see the neighboring infinitive clause as the object of the
preposition an. Observe how this same relationship gets expressed quite literally in the
English translations.
Be sure to remember that the preposition captured inside of a da– compound still
communicates its normal meaning within its local clause. In the first example above, note
how the meaning of gegen is still crucial to understanding the first clause, as part of the
idiomatic phrase nichts gegen etwas haben. In the second example, note how an is still
functioning in its capacity of determining which meaning of denken is in use here (see
dictionary for denken + an).

By the way, generally speaking, a da– clause is used when the subject of the dependent
clause is different from that of the main clause. When the subjects are the same, an infinitive
phrase with zu is used.