Frame description

A Cause causes an Effect, as in example (1). Almost any kind of thing could constitute a Cause, such as a person, a thing, or a whole situation. When the Effect happens to a particular entity, we call this entity the Affected.

1. Die Treibhausgase verursachen die globale Erwärmung.1. Greenhouse gasses cause global warming.
2.  Martha zerbrach den Teller, weil ihr Freund mit ihr Schluss machte.2.  Martha broke the plate, because her boyfriend broke up with her.

A Cause causes an Effect, as in example (1). Almost any kind of thing could constitute a Cause, such as a person, a thing, or a whole situation. When the Effect happens to a particular entity, we call this entity the Affected.

1. Die Treibhausgase verursachen die globale Erwärmung.1. Greenhouse gasses cause global warming.
2.  Martha zerbrach den Teller, weil ihr Freund mit ihr Schluss machte.2.  Martha broke the plate, because her boyfriend broke up with her.

 

It is important to know that many of the words in this frame, e.g. "der Grund" ("reason") and "warum" ("why"), can also evoke a situation in which someone volitionally responds to a state of affairs by performing an action. Although this is not always genuine causation (because people have the freedom of choice), it is expressed linguistically in the same way (see example 2). Both English and German allow their speakers to construe intentional responses as Effects of an outside Cause, which makes a volitional action seem involuntary. This is one way human language and thought might influence one another. For more information, look into linguistic relativity.

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Frame Elements

Frame Element descriptions (on hover):

A force, process, or event that produces an Effect.

A situation or phenomenon brought about by the Cause.

An entity affected by the Cause. This FE can sometimes stand in for the Effect.

Details
Examples
Grammar Notes
Sentence Templates
Alternate Forms
See All Information
also adverb so, therefore

Details:

so, therefore, thus

In the Causation frame, "also" conveys that one thing follows from another, like English "therefore." However, not all uses of this word evoke this frame; "also" is also used as a particle (i.e. a word that has little meaning but adds a stylistic flavor to a sentence), so be careful.

When using "also," you should remember the difference in word order between English and German. English often uses "so" at the beginning of a sentence, but German can just as easily embed "also" after the verb. See the examples section to get an idea where to put "also."

Example Sentences:

  1. Ich habe Kopfschmerzen, also bleibe ich im Bett.
  2. Ihr habt vor zwei Wochen die Hausaufgabe bekommen. Es gibt also keinen Grund, sie nicht pünktlich abzugeben.
  3. Wir wollen um 8 Uhr ins Kino und es ist schon 7 Uhr 30, also müssen wir uns beeilen.
  1. I have a headache, so I'm staying in bed.
  2. You received two weeks ago the homework. There is therefore no reason, not to turn it in on time.
  3. We want to go at 8 o'clock to the movies and it's already 7:30, so we must hurry.

Grammar:

Word Order - V2

Frames: 

German word order ("Wortstellung") is very different from English. Remember this rule to be sure you have everything in the right place.

The V2 rule: The finite verb (i.e. the verb that is conjugated to match the subject) belongs in the second position. As in English, the most common word order in German is Subject - Verb - Direct Object (as in "Der Mann isst den Apfel," "The man eats the apple"). In contrast to English, however, when bringing a word or phrase to the beginning of the sentence (known as topicalization), that word or phrase fills the first position, and the verb follows it. While topicalization is possible with practically any phrase in German, it is especially important to remember the V2 rule when using adverbs (e.g. "deshalb," "therefore," or "danach," "after that") because:

  1. they are frequently placed at the beginning of the sentence, and
  2. when they are topicalized in English, they are inserted without any impact on word order. See the examples in the table below.
Topicalized LUFrameGermanEnglish
also ("so," "therefore")Causation

Ich bin müde. Ich gehe ins Bett.

Ich bin müde. Also gehe ich ins Bett.

I am tired. I am going to bed.

I am tired. So, I am going to bed.

  

[Ich]1   [bin]2   [müde.]3       [Ich]1   [gehe]2   [ins Bett.]3

[Ich]1   [bin]2   [müde.]3       [Also]1   [gehe]2   [ich]3   [ins Bett.]4

 
deswegen ("because of that")Causation

Deswegen habe ich meine Hausaufgabe nicht gemacht.

Ich habe meine Hausaufgabe nicht gemacht.

Therefore, I did not do my homework.

did not do my homework.

  

[Ich]1   [habe]2   [meine Hausaufgabe]3   [nicht gemacht.]4

[Deswegen]1   [habe]2   [ich]3   [meine Hausaufgabe]4   [nicht gemacht.]5

 

For more about word order in German, please consult Grimm Grammar

*While this grammatical feature applies to all German sentences (except for questions where subject and verb are inverted, e.g. "Gehst du jetzt?" "Are you going now?"), this grammar note will only appear with lexical units that pose particular difficulty for English speaking learners of German, such as adverbs that can be placed at the beginning of sentences in English.

Templates with Frame Elements:

  1. CAUSE, also EFFECT.
  1. CAUSE, so EFFECT.

Details:

so, therefore, thus

In the Causation frame, "also" conveys that one thing follows from another, like English "therefore." However, not all uses of this word evoke this frame; "also" is also used as a particle (i.e. a word that has little meaning but adds a stylistic flavor to a sentence), so be careful.

When using "also," you should remember the difference in word order between English and German. English often uses "so" at the beginning of a sentence, but German can just as easily embed "also" after the verb. See the examples section to get an idea where to put "also."

das Ergebnis noun result

Details:

result

This noun is used like its English equivalent.

Example Sentences:

  1. Die Ergebnisse der Studie waren positiv.
  2. Die Untersuchung der Polizei führte zu keinem Ergebnis.
  3. Die Ergebnisse des Brexit Referendums waren knapp!
  1. The results of the study were positive.
  2. The investigation of the police led to no result.
  3. The results of the Brexit referendum were close!

Templates with Frame Elements:

  1. CAUSE hat ein Ergebnis.
  1. CAUSE has a result.

Details:

result

This noun is used like its English equivalent.

Alternate Forms:

die Ergebnisse (pl.)
denn conjunction because

Details:

because

Although this is the easiest form of "because" to use, it is not the most common form for native speakers. Once you can master subordinating conjunctions, you should use "weil" more frequently, but until then, "denn" will do just fine. When you use "denn" to connect two sentences, it does not affect word order (just like "und" and "oder").

Example Sentences:

  1. Reinhardt ist spät angekommen, denn er hatte eine Autopanne.
  2. Viele Studenten machen einen Austausch, denn sie wollen eine andere Kultur erleben.
  3. Farah hat keine Haustiere, denn sie hat Allergien.
  1. Reinhardt came late, because he had car trouble.
  2. Many students do an exchange because they want to experience a different culture.
  3. Farah has no pets because she has allergies.

Templates with Frame Elements:

  1. EFFECT, denn CAUSE.
  1. EFFECT, because CAUSE.

Details:

because

Although this is the easiest form of "because" to use, it is not the most common form for native speakers. Once you can master subordinating conjunctions, you should use "weil" more frequently, but until then, "denn" will do just fine. When you use "denn" to connect two sentences, it does not affect word order (just like "und" and "oder").

der Anlass noun reason, cause

Details:

reason, cause

Given its meaning, "Anlass" usually represents the Cause frame element. Two common collocations for this word have equivalents in English: "Anlass haben," "to have reason" and "Anlass geben," "to give reason." 

"Anlass" is a synonym of "der Grund" ("reason"), but differs slightly in meaning. While "Grund" indicates an underlying cause, "Anlass" conveys something more like an opportunity -- a set of circumstances that allows an Effect to come into being. (Note: another sense of the word "Anlass" means "event" or "opportunity.")

"Anlass" can be used with "für" ("for"), "zu" ("to"), or the genetive case to express an Effect. The "für" phrase is used in the same way with "Anlass" as it is with "Grund:" to express the Effect the reason is "for." The "zu" phrase is often used with effects that are mental or emotional reactions (e.g. Anlass zur Freude / zur Spekulation / zur Sorge; "cause for joy / for speculation / for concern").

When used with "haben," the Effect is expressed in a new clause using the infinitive construction. For example, "Wir haben Anlass, etwas zu machen" ("We have reason to do something").

Example Sentences:

  1. Die Schüler hatten keinen Anlass für ihre Beschwerde.
  2. Heikes Chef gibt ihr Anlass, einen neuen Job zu suchen.
  3. Die Analytiker sehen keinen Anlass zur Besorgnis.
  4. Trumps Ideen und politische Einstellungen geben Anlass zu scharfer Kritik.
  5. Wir wissen jetzt, dass viele Vitamine in den Schälen von Karotten stecken. Es besteht also kein Anlass mehr, Karotten zu schälen.
  1. The students had no reason for their complaints.
  2. Heike's boss gave her reason to find a new job.
  3. The analysts see no reason for concern.
  4. Trump's ideas and political views give reason for sharp critique.
  5. We know now, that many vitamins are in the peels of carrots. There exists therefore no reason anymore, to peel carrots.

Templates with Frame Elements:

  1. ETWAS gibt Anlass für/zu EFFECT.
  2. JEMAND hat Anlass, EFFECT.
  1. SOMETHING gives reason for/to EFFECT.
  2. SOMEONE has reason, EFFECT.

Details:

reason, cause

Given its meaning, "Anlass" usually represents the Cause frame element. Two common collocations for this word have equivalents in English: "Anlass haben," "to have reason" and "Anlass geben," "to give reason." 

"Anlass" is a synonym of "der Grund" ("reason"), but differs slightly in meaning. While "Grund" indicates an underlying cause, "Anlass" conveys something more like an opportunity -- a set of circumstances that allows an Effect to come into being. (Note: another sense of the word "Anlass" means "event" or "opportunity.")

"Anlass" can be used with "für" ("for"), "zu" ("to"), or the genetive case to express an Effect. The "für" phrase is used in the same way with "Anlass" as it is with "Grund:" to express the Effect the reason is "for." The "zu" phrase is often used with effects that are mental or emotional reactions (e.g. Anlass zur Freude / zur Spekulation / zur Sorge; "cause for joy / for speculation / for concern").

When used with "haben," the Effect is expressed in a new clause using the infinitive construction. For example, "Wir haben Anlass, etwas zu machen" ("We have reason to do something").

Alternate Forms:

die Anlässen (pl.)
der Grund noun reason

Details:

reason

For the most part, this noun is used like its English equivalent. A notable exception is the common phrase "aus diesem Grund," which appears with a different preposition in English: "for this reason."

Example Sentences:

  1. Ihr habt vor zwei Wochen die Hausaufgabe bekommen. Es gibt also keinen Grund, sie nicht pünktlich abzugeben.
  2. Uli hat kein Geld. Ein Grund dafür ist, dass er nicht arbeitet.
  3. Der Diebs Tochter war sehr krank und brauchte Medizin, aber er hatte nicht genug Geld dafür. Aus diesem Grund überfiel er die Bank.
  4. Es gibt viele Gründe für den wirtschaftlichen Aufschwung in den 50er Jahren.
  5. Auf Grund des schlechten Wetters spielen wir heute keinen Fußball.
  6. Sophia hat mich ohne Grund geschlagen.
  1. You received two weeks ago the homework. There is therefore no reason, not to turn it in on time.
  2. Uli has no money. A reason for that is that he doesn't work.
  3. The thief's daughter was very sick and needed medicine, but he didn't have enough money for it. For that reason, he robbed the bank.
  4. There are many reasons for the economic upturn in the 50's.
  5. For the reason of the bad weather, we are playing no football today.
  6. Sophia hit me without reason.

Templates with Frame Elements:

  1. Es gibt einen Grund für dieses EFFECT.
  2. Aus diesem Grund EFFECT.
  3. EFFECT passiert mit/ohne Grund.
  4. Ein Grund dafür ist, dass CAUSE.
  5. Auf Grund des CAUSE, EFFECT.
  1. There is a reason for this EFFECT.
  2. For this reason, EFFECT.
  3. EFFECT happens with/without a reason.
  4. A reason for it is that CAUSE.
  5. For the reason of CAUSE, EFFECT.

Details:

reason

For the most part, this noun is used like its English equivalent. A notable exception is the common phrase "aus diesem Grund," which appears with a different preposition in English: "for this reason."

Alternate Forms:

die Gründe (pl.)
deshalb adverb therefore, because of that

Details:

therefore, because of that

This adverb is used much like English "therefore," but does not sound quite as formal, and can be used appropriately in everyday conversation as well as in more formal contexts like academic writing. "Deshalb" can sometimes be translated with "that's why" or "for this reason."

Example Sentences:

  1. Lola ist krank und kann deshalb nicht zum Unterricht kommen.
  2. Das deutsche Schulsystem ist ziemlich kompliziert im Vergleich zum amerikanischen Schulsystem. Deshalb ist es schwierig für amerikanische Studenten zu begreifen.
  3. In Deutschland darf man mit 16 Bier trinken; es gibt deshalb Probleme mit Alkoholmissbrauch bei Teenagern.
  1. Lola is sick and therefore cannot come to class.
  2. The German school system is fairly complicated in comparison to the American school system. That's why it is difficult for American students to understand.
  3. In Germany one is allowed to drink beer at 16; there are therefore problems with alcohol abuse among teenagers.

Grammar:

Word Order - V2

Frames: 

German word order ("Wortstellung") is very different from English. Remember this rule to be sure you have everything in the right place.

The V2 rule: The finite verb (i.e. the verb that is conjugated to match the subject) belongs in the second position. As in English, the most common word order in German is Subject - Verb - Direct Object (as in "Der Mann isst den Apfel," "The man eats the apple"). In contrast to English, however, when bringing a word or phrase to the beginning of the sentence (known as topicalization), that word or phrase fills the first position, and the verb follows it. While topicalization is possible with practically any phrase in German, it is especially important to remember the V2 rule when using adverbs (e.g. "deshalb," "therefore," or "danach," "after that") because:

  1. they are frequently placed at the beginning of the sentence, and
  2. when they are topicalized in English, they are inserted without any impact on word order. See the examples in the table below.
Topicalized LUFrameGermanEnglish
also ("so," "therefore")Causation

Ich bin müde. Ich gehe ins Bett.

Ich bin müde. Also gehe ich ins Bett.

I am tired. I am going to bed.

I am tired. So, I am going to bed.

  

[Ich]1   [bin]2   [müde.]3       [Ich]1   [gehe]2   [ins Bett.]3

[Ich]1   [bin]2   [müde.]3       [Also]1   [gehe]2   [ich]3   [ins Bett.]4

 
deswegen ("because of that")Causation

Deswegen habe ich meine Hausaufgabe nicht gemacht.

Ich habe meine Hausaufgabe nicht gemacht.

Therefore, I did not do my homework.

did not do my homework.

  

[Ich]1   [habe]2   [meine Hausaufgabe]3   [nicht gemacht.]4

[Deswegen]1   [habe]2   [ich]3   [meine Hausaufgabe]4   [nicht gemacht.]5

 

For more about word order in German, please consult Grimm Grammar

*While this grammatical feature applies to all German sentences (except for questions where subject and verb are inverted, e.g. "Gehst du jetzt?" "Are you going now?"), this grammar note will only appear with lexical units that pose particular difficulty for English speaking learners of German, such as adverbs that can be placed at the beginning of sentences in English.

Templates with Frame Elements:

  1. CAUSE, deshalb EFFECT.

  1. CAUSE, therefore EFFECT.

Details:

therefore, because of that

This adverb is used much like English "therefore," but does not sound quite as formal, and can be used appropriately in everyday conversation as well as in more formal contexts like academic writing. "Deshalb" can sometimes be translated with "that's why" or "for this reason."

deswegen adverb therefore, because of that

Details:

therefore

This adverb means "because of that", and is derived from the preposition "wegen" ("because of"). It is often used at the beginning of a sentence or clause to refer to a Cause without repeating it.

Example Sentences:

  1. Niklas ist krank, und deswegen kommt er nicht zum Unterricht.
  2. Ich habe wenig Geld. Deswegen komme ich nicht mit ins Kino.
  3. Es soll die ganze Woche lang regnen. Das Konzert wurde deswegen abgesagt.
  1. Niklas is sick, and therefore he's not coming to class.
  2. I have little money. Because of that, I'm not coming with to the movies.
  3. It's supposed to rain all week long. The concert was therefore cancelled.

Grammar:

Word Order - V2

Frames: 

German word order ("Wortstellung") is very different from English. Remember this rule to be sure you have everything in the right place.

The V2 rule: The finite verb (i.e. the verb that is conjugated to match the subject) belongs in the second position. As in English, the most common word order in German is Subject - Verb - Direct Object (as in "Der Mann isst den Apfel," "The man eats the apple"). In contrast to English, however, when bringing a word or phrase to the beginning of the sentence (known as topicalization), that word or phrase fills the first position, and the verb follows it. While topicalization is possible with practically any phrase in German, it is especially important to remember the V2 rule when using adverbs (e.g. "deshalb," "therefore," or "danach," "after that") because:

  1. they are frequently placed at the beginning of the sentence, and
  2. when they are topicalized in English, they are inserted without any impact on word order. See the examples in the table below.
Topicalized LUFrameGermanEnglish
also ("so," "therefore")Causation

Ich bin müde. Ich gehe ins Bett.

Ich bin müde. Also gehe ich ins Bett.

I am tired. I am going to bed.

I am tired. So, I am going to bed.

  

[Ich]1   [bin]2   [müde.]3       [Ich]1   [gehe]2   [ins Bett.]3

[Ich]1   [bin]2   [müde.]3       [Also]1   [gehe]2   [ich]3   [ins Bett.]4

 
deswegen ("because of that")Causation

Deswegen habe ich meine Hausaufgabe nicht gemacht.

Ich habe meine Hausaufgabe nicht gemacht.

Therefore, I did not do my homework.

did not do my homework.

  

[Ich]1   [habe]2   [meine Hausaufgabe]3   [nicht gemacht.]4

[Deswegen]1   [habe]2   [ich]3   [meine Hausaufgabe]4   [nicht gemacht.]5

 

For more about word order in German, please consult Grimm Grammar

*While this grammatical feature applies to all German sentences (except for questions where subject and verb are inverted, e.g. "Gehst du jetzt?" "Are you going now?"), this grammar note will only appear with lexical units that pose particular difficulty for English speaking learners of German, such as adverbs that can be placed at the beginning of sentences in English.

Templates with Frame Elements:

  1. CAUSE, (und) deswegen EFFECT.
  1. CAUSE, (and) therefore EFFECT.

Details:

therefore

This adverb means "because of that", and is derived from the preposition "wegen" ("because of"). It is often used at the beginning of a sentence or clause to refer to a Cause without repeating it.

die Folge noun consequence, result

Details:

consequence, result, effect

This noun is related to the verb "folgen" ("to follow"), and in this frame, it denotes the Effect that follows a Cause, which is typically expressed with a "von" phrase or in the genetive case. It is used like its English equivalent, but is also associated with the construction "etwas zur Folge haben," where the specific result can be overtly mentioned and identified as the Effect, much like the English expression "to result in" (see example 4).

Example Sentences:

  1. Die Folgen dieser Tat sind ernsthaft.
  2. Sabine will die Folgen ihrer Entscheidung nicht akzeptieren.
  3. Der Minister hat die Folgen von der Rezession nicht richtig eingeschätzt.
  4. Seine Entscheidung hat schwere Schäden zur Folge.
  1. The consequences of this action are serious.
  2. Sabine doesn't want to accept the consequences of her decision.
  3. The minister did not correctly assess the consequences of the recession.
  4. His decision results in heavy damages.

Templates with Frame Elements:

  1. CAUSE hat eine Folge.
  2. CAUSE hat EFFECT zur Folge.
  1. CAUSE has a consequence.
  2. CAUSE results in EFFECT.

Details:

consequence, result, effect

This noun is related to the verb "folgen" ("to follow"), and in this frame, it denotes the Effect that follows a Cause, which is typically expressed with a "von" phrase or in the genetive case. It is used like its English equivalent, but is also associated with the construction "etwas zur Folge haben," where the specific result can be overtly mentioned and identified as the Effect, much like the English expression "to result in" (see example 4).

Alternate Forms:

Folgen (pl.)
die Ursache noun cause

Details:

cause

Used like its English equivalent, this noun is often found in close proximity to another noun, "die Wirkung" ("effect"). For example, "the law of cause and effect" is expressed as "das Gesetz von Ursache und Wirkung."

Typically, "die Ursache" will instantiate the Cause frame element. To express the Effect, German speakers can insert (after "Ursache") a prepositional phrase headed by either "von" or "für," or the genitive case (see examples 1-3).

Example Sentences:

  1. Die Ursache des Unfalls ist noch unbekannt.
  2. Man muss versuchen, alle Ursachen für die Entwicklung zu sehen.
  3.  Sind Insekte die Ursache von den Epidemien in Argentinien?
  4. Diese kleine Ursache hatte eine große Wirkung.
  1. The cause of the accident is still unknown.
  2. One must try to see all causes for the development.
  3. Are insects the cause of the epidemics in Argentina?
  4. This small cause had a big effect.

Templates with Frame Elements:

  1. [Die Ursache von/für/des EFFECT...]
  1. [The cause of/for EFFECT...]

Details:

cause

Used like its English equivalent, this noun is often found in close proximity to another noun, "die Wirkung" ("effect"). For example, "the law of cause and effect" is expressed as "das Gesetz von Ursache und Wirkung."

Typically, "die Ursache" will instantiate the Cause frame element. To express the Effect, German speakers can insert (after "Ursache") a prepositional phrase headed by either "von" or "für," or the genitive case (see examples 1-3).

Alternate Forms:

die Ursachen (pl.)
die Wirkung noun effect

Details:

effect

Used like its English equivalent, this noun typically instantiates the Effect frame element. The Cause of this "Wirkung" can be expressed using genitive case or a prepositional phrase headed by "von" ("of"), and the Affected can be expressed in a prepositional phrase with "auf" ("on"), as shown in the examples section.

Example Sentences:

  1. Was der Minister sagt, hat eine politische Wirkung.
  2. Die Reformen hatten eine stabilisierende Wirkung auf die Wirtschaft.
  3. Die Wirkung von Kunst auf den Menschen kann sehr stark sein.
  1. What the minister says has a political effect.
  2. The reforms had a stabilizing effect on the economy.
  3. The effect of art on man can be very strong.

Templates with Frame Elements:

  1. CAUSE hat eine Wirkung.
  1. CAUSE has an effect.

Details:

effect

Used like its English equivalent, this noun typically instantiates the Effect frame element. The Cause of this "Wirkung" can be expressed using genitive case or a prepositional phrase headed by "von" ("of"), and the Affected can be expressed in a prepositional phrase with "auf" ("on"), as shown in the examples section.

Alternate Forms:

die Wirkungen (pl.)
etwas [machen] lassen construction let happen, have/get something done

Details:

let something happen, to have/get something done

This is where Causation gets complicated. In German, "machen lassen" is used when someone has something done that they personally are not doing. For example, when a person has someone cut their hair, or when they have a letter to the editor published. Basically, "lassen" is used as a support verb when it's not literally that person (the subject) who is doing the action denoted by the other verb ("machen" or any other), but they are still bringing about the event by requesting or otherwise arranging it. So if you hear "Sie läßt sich die Haare schneiden," you know for sure that she's not cutting her own hair.

In English, the support verb "get" typically plays the same role as German "lassen," but sometimes the distinction goes unnoticed in English, and the person allowing the Effect is construed directly as the Cause (e.g. "I want to cut my hair"). Here are some common phrases in both langauges:

GermanEnglish
sich scheiden lassento get divorced
sich die Haare schneiden lassento have one's hair cut
etwas fallen lassento drop something
Wasser laufen lassento run water

When this construction is used in the Perfekt tense (aka Conversational Past Tense), the normal past participle for "lassen" ("gelassen") is not used. Instead, the verb stays in its infinitive form. This happens only under the circumstances described here, where "lassen" is used as a support verb in conjunction with another verb (see example 3).

As with some other lexical units in this frame (e.g. "der Anlass"), "lassen" can be used in the sense of "allow" without implying causation. Examine the context closely, and you will be able to tell which meaning is intended.

Example Sentences:

  1. Ich möchte mir die Haare schneiden lassen, weil ich am Montag ein Vorstellungsgespräch habe.
  2. Petras Eltern ließen sich scheiden als sie nur 3 Jahre alt war.
  3. Gestern hat Malte seinen Bruder wissen lassen, dass er im Dezember zu Besuch kommt.
  1. I would like to get my hair cut, because on Monday I have a job interview.
  2. Petra's parents got divorced when she was only 3 years old.
  3. Yesterday Malte let his brother know that he is coming to visit in December.

Templates with Frame Elements:

  1. CAUSE läßt EFFECT machen.
  1. CAUSE has EFFECT done.

Details:

let something happen, to have/get something done

This is where Causation gets complicated. In German, "machen lassen" is used when someone has something done that they personally are not doing. For example, when a person has someone cut their hair, or when they have a letter to the editor published. Basically, "lassen" is used as a support verb when it's not literally that person (the subject) who is doing the action denoted by the other verb ("machen" or any other), but they are still bringing about the event by requesting or otherwise arranging it. So if you hear "Sie läßt sich die Haare schneiden," you know for sure that she's not cutting her own hair.

In English, the support verb "get" typically plays the same role as German "lassen," but sometimes the distinction goes unnoticed in English, and the person allowing the Effect is construed directly as the Cause (e.g. "I want to cut my hair"). Here are some common phrases in both langauges:

GermanEnglish
sich scheiden lassento get divorced
sich die Haare schneiden lassento have one's hair cut
etwas fallen lassento drop something
Wasser laufen lassento run water

When this construction is used in the Perfekt tense (aka Conversational Past Tense), the normal past participle for "lassen" ("gelassen") is not used. Instead, the verb stays in its infinitive form. This happens only under the circumstances described here, where "lassen" is used as a support verb in conjunction with another verb (see example 3).

As with some other lexical units in this frame (e.g. "der Anlass"), "lassen" can be used in the sense of "allow" without implying causation. Examine the context closely, and you will be able to tell which meaning is intended.

Alternate Forms:

er läßt, ließ, hat [machen] lassen
führen zu construction lead (to)

Details:

to lead to

In the Causation frame, "führen" is used to express that one thing (a Cause) leads to another (an Effect). This verb can also be used in the more literal sense that involves motion (e.g. Er führte sie zum Wald. "He led her to the woods").

Example Sentences:

  1. Ungesunde Ernährung führt zur Krankheit.
  2. Leider führte es zu nichts.
  3. Lars hat eine Belohnung von 1.000 Euro bekommen, weil sein Hinweis zur Ergreifung der Täter geführt hat.
  1. Unhealthy diet leads to sickness.
  2. Unfortunately, it led to nothing.
  3. Lars received a reward of 1,000 euros because his tip led to the apprehension of the perpetrators.

Templates with Frame Elements:

  1. CAUSE führt zu EFFECT.
  1. CAUSE leads to EFFECT.

Details:

to lead to

In the Causation frame, "führen" is used to express that one thing (a Cause) leads to another (an Effect). This verb can also be used in the more literal sense that involves motion (e.g. Er führte sie zum Wald. "He led her to the woods").

Alternate Forms:

es führt, hat geführt, führte
machen verb make, cause

Details:

to make, to cause

Just as in English "make," German "machen" can be used to express causation. It is often used with an adjective as the Effect. In contrast to English, German does not use this verb when the Effect is an action expressed by a phrase, such as "she made me do it."

Example Sentences:

  1. Sonja macht Anjay eifersuchtig.
  2. Das Gemälde macht das Zimmer hell und warm.
  3. Der Lärm von der Party meines Nachbarn macht mich verrückt!
  4. Deine Größe macht mich klein.
  1. Sonja is making Anjay jealous.
  2. The painting makes the room light and warm.
  3. The noise from my neighbor's party  is making me crazy!
  4. Your greatnessmakes me small.

Templates with Frame Elements:

  1. CAUSE macht AFFECTED EFFECT.
  1. CAUSE macht AFFECTED EFFECT.

Details:

to make, to cause

Just as in English "make," German "machen" can be used to express causation. It is often used with an adjective as the Effect. In contrast to English, German does not use this verb when the Effect is an action expressed by a phrase, such as "she made me do it."

Alternate Forms:

er macht, hat gemacht, machte
resultieren (aus) verb result

Details:

to result (from)

This verb is used much like English "to result," but in German, the Effect always appears as subject of the verb (i.e. this verb cannot be used as an equivalent for English "to result in"). The Cause is encoded with a prepositional phrase headed by "aus" ("from"), and therefore requires the dative case.

Example Sentences:

  1. Die Aufteilung Deutschlands resultierte aus dem zweiten Weltkrieg.
  2. Johanns Erfolg resultiert aus seinem persönlichen Einsatz und harte Arbeit.
  3. Aus der Untersuchen des Privatdetektivs resultierten drei Festnahmen.
  1. The division of Germany resulted from the second World War.
  2. Johann's success results from his personal application [i.e. from applying himself] and hard work.
  3. From the investigation of the private detective resulted three arrests.

Templates with Frame Elements:

  1. EFFECT resultiert aus CAUSE.
  1. EFFECT results from CAUSE.

Details:

to result (from)

This verb is used much like English "to result," but in German, the Effect always appears as subject of the verb (i.e. this verb cannot be used as an equivalent for English "to result in"). The Cause is encoded with a prepositional phrase headed by "aus" ("from"), and therefore requires the dative case.

Alternate Forms:

es resultiert, hat resultiert, resultierte
verantwortlich (für) adjective responsible

Details:

responsible (for)

You've probably noticed that"verantwortlich" is related to "Antwort" ("answer"). This reflects the idea that if someone is "verantwortlich" ("responsible") they may have to answer to others if something goes wrong (note that the same connection can be made for English "response"). Overall, the German usage is remarkable similar to English, even with regard to the preposition that is used to express the EFFECT, "für" ("for").

This adjective is not, however, used without the preposition to describe a positive character trait as in "He's a very responsible teenager." (With "verantwortlich" in the same sentence, one would think: Responsible for WHAT? Does he run a business or something?)

Example Sentences:

  1. Der Fahrer war voll verantwortlich für den Unfall.
  2. Toni ist dafür verantwortlich, dass meine Kopfhörer kaputt sind.
  3. Holly ist depressiv; sie fühlt sich verantwortlich für ihre Mutters Tod.
  1. The driver was fully responsible for the accident.
  2. Toni is responsible for the fact that my headphones are broken.
  3. Holly is depressed; she feels responsible for her mother's death.

Grammar:

Adjectives in Action

There are two main ways to use adjectives in German that parallel the ways adjectives are used in English. These usages are illustrated in the table below.

Predicate AdjectivesAttributive Adjectives
1. Sara ist arbeitslos.2. Saras arbeitsloser Mann sucht einen Job.
Sara is unemployedSara's unemployed husband is looking for a job
3. Der Kunde wurde wütend.4. Der wütende Kunde verließ den Laden.
The customer became angry.The angry customer left the store.
5. Viele deutsche Wähler sind gut informiert6. Informierte Wähler sind wichtig für eine Demokratie.
Many German voters are well informed.Informed voters are important for a democracy.

Predicate adjectives are part of a sentence's predicate, the part that states something about the subject. When used in this way, as in examples (1), (3), and (5), the adjective typically follows a verb like sein ("to be") or werden ("to become"), and appears in its most basic form. Attributive adjectives directly attribute a quality to a noun by appearing before it in the sentence; no verb comes between the adjective and the noun it describes. In attributive uses, such as (2), (4), and (6), endings are added to the adjectives. At a minimum, an attributive adjective in German gets an "e" at the end, although there are several possibilities. Adjective endings are difficult to master, so if you are in your first few years of study, the take-away here is that attributive adjectives get endings (an "e" or more), and predicate adjectives do not. If you are further in your studies or just tenaciously curious, you can learn more about adjective endings here, here and here.

Comparisons using Adjectives

In the Alternate Forms tab, you can see the comparative (e.g. gut - besser, "good" - "better") and superlative (e.g. gut - am besten, "good" - "the best") forms of an adjective. German and English are similar in their uses of comparative; both languages add an "-er" ending to make comparative forms, for example: wütend, wütender ("angry, angrier"), informiert, informierter ("informed, more informed"), etc. The main difference is that English sometimes does not allow such an ending (e.g. *stupider, *informeder, *loster), but in German, the "-er" ending is always possible, and "more" does appear with an adjective to convey the comparative meaning. There are a few more rules for German comparatives and superlatives (including some irregular forms) that you can read about here.

 

Templates with Frame Elements:

  1. CAUSE ist verantwortlich für EFFECT.
  2. [Person, die CAUSE macht] ist verantwortlich für EFFECT.
  1. CAUSE is responsible for EFFECT.
  2. [Person who does CAUSE] is responsible for EFFECT.

Details:

responsible (for)

You've probably noticed that"verantwortlich" is related to "Antwort" ("answer"). This reflects the idea that if someone is "verantwortlich" ("responsible") they may have to answer to others if something goes wrong (note that the same connection can be made for English "response"). Overall, the German usage is remarkable similar to English, even with regard to the preposition that is used to express the EFFECT, "für" ("for").

This adjective is not, however, used without the preposition to describe a positive character trait as in "He's a very responsible teenager." (With "verantwortlich" in the same sentence, one would think: Responsible for WHAT? Does he run a business or something?)

verursachen verb cause

Details:

to cause, to induce

Used much like "to cause" in English.

Example Sentences:

  1. Lenas Einstellung zu ihrer Arbeit verursacht Schwierigkeiten für ihre Mitarbeiter.
  2. Bakterien können Entzündungen verursachen.
  3. Das Feuer wurde durch einen Blitz verursacht.
  1. Lena's attitude toward her work is causingdifficultiesfor her coworkers.
  2. Bacteria can cause inflammations.
  3. The fire was caused by lightening.

Templates with Frame Elements:

  1. CAUSE verursacht EFFECT.
  1. CAUSE causes EFFECT.

Details:

to cause, to induce

Used much like "to cause" in English.

Alternate Forms:

er verursacht, hat verursacht, verursachte
warum adverb why

Details:

why

Used like its English equivalent.

Example Sentences:

  1. Ich weiss nicht, warum du keine Hausaufgaben machst.
  2. Warum ist Margerete traurig?
  3. Meine Eltern wollen wissen, warum ich Deutsch lerne.
  4. Ben ist gemein. Das ist warum er keine Freunde hat.
  1. I don't know why you do no homework.
  2. Why is Margerete sad?
  3. My parents want to know why I'm studying German.
  4. Ben is mean. That is why he has no friends.

Grammar:

Word Order - V2

Frames: 

German word order ("Wortstellung") is very different from English. Remember this rule to be sure you have everything in the right place.

The V2 rule: The finite verb (i.e. the verb that is conjugated to match the subject) belongs in the second position. As in English, the most common word order in German is Subject - Verb - Direct Object (as in "Der Mann isst den Apfel," "The man eats the apple"). In contrast to English, however, when bringing a word or phrase to the beginning of the sentence (known as topicalization), that word or phrase fills the first position, and the verb follows it. While topicalization is possible with practically any phrase in German, it is especially important to remember the V2 rule when using adverbs (e.g. "deshalb," "therefore," or "danach," "after that") because:

  1. they are frequently placed at the beginning of the sentence, and
  2. when they are topicalized in English, they are inserted without any impact on word order. See the examples in the table below.
Topicalized LUFrameGermanEnglish
also ("so," "therefore")Causation

Ich bin müde. Ich gehe ins Bett.

Ich bin müde. Also gehe ich ins Bett.

I am tired. I am going to bed.

I am tired. So, I am going to bed.

  

[Ich]1   [bin]2   [müde.]3       [Ich]1   [gehe]2   [ins Bett.]3

[Ich]1   [bin]2   [müde.]3       [Also]1   [gehe]2   [ich]3   [ins Bett.]4

 
deswegen ("because of that")Causation

Deswegen habe ich meine Hausaufgabe nicht gemacht.

Ich habe meine Hausaufgabe nicht gemacht.

Therefore, I did not do my homework.

did not do my homework.

  

[Ich]1   [habe]2   [meine Hausaufgabe]3   [nicht gemacht.]4

[Deswegen]1   [habe]2   [ich]3   [meine Hausaufgabe]4   [nicht gemacht.]5

 

For more about word order in German, please consult Grimm Grammar

*While this grammatical feature applies to all German sentences (except for questions where subject and verb are inverted, e.g. "Gehst du jetzt?" "Are you going now?"), this grammar note will only appear with lexical units that pose particular difficulty for English speaking learners of German, such as adverbs that can be placed at the beginning of sentences in English.

Templates with Frame Elements:

  1. CAUSE ist warum es ein EFFECT gibt.
  2. Warum EFFECT?
  1. CAUSE is why there is an EFFECT.
  2. Why EFFECT?

Details:

why

Used like its English equivalent.

wegen preposition because of

Details:

because of

Officially, this preposition is used with the genitive case (e.g. "wegen des Unfalls," "because of the accident"), but in spoken German and in informal settings, it often appears with dative. Certain expressions are very strongly associated with the dative (see those shown with dative in the examples). This is likely a case of language change in progress.

The expression "von [Cause] wegen" means for reasons related to the Cause, as in "von Berufs wegen" ("for professional reasons"; "Beruf" means "profession/career").

Example Sentences:

  1. Das Museum ist wegen Umbau geschlossen.
  2. Wegen der Krankheit, bleibt Moritz im Bett.
  3. Wegen Antonia will Finn die Stadt nicht verlassen. 
  4. Die Studenten bleiben in der Bibliothek wegen des schlechten Wetters.
  5. Von Berufs wegen hat Lara sich nicht bei Facebook angemeldet.
  6. Er macht das wegen mir. (Dativ; Genitiv = meinentwegen)
  7. Das war nicht der Grund; es war wegen etwas anderem. (Dativ)
  1. The museum is closed due to remodelling.
  2. Because of the sickness, Moritz is staying in bed.
  3. Because of Antonia, Finn doesn't want to leave the city. 
  4. The students stay in the library because of the bad weather.
  5. Because of her career, Lara has not signed up for Facebook.
  6. He does that because of me.
  7. That was not the reason; it was because of something else.

Templates with Frame Elements:

  1. EFFECT ist wegen CAUSE.
  2. AFFECTED macht ETWAS von CAUSE wegen.
  1. EFFECT is because of CAUSE.
  2. AFFECTED does SOMETHING because of CAUSE.

Details:

because of

Officially, this preposition is used with the genitive case (e.g. "wegen des Unfalls," "because of the accident"), but in spoken German and in informal settings, it often appears with dative. Certain expressions are very strongly associated with the dative (see those shown with dative in the examples). This is likely a case of language change in progress.

The expression "von [Cause] wegen" means for reasons related to the Cause, as in "von Berufs wegen" ("for professional reasons"; "Beruf" means "profession/career").

weil conjunction because

Details:

because

This is the most common way to say "because" in German. Watch out, though! This is a subordinating conjunction, which means that when it's used, the verb appears at the end of the clause. Check out the examples to see how this works.

Example Sentences:

  1. Otto ist froh, weil Marlene mit ihm zusammen sein möchte.
  2. Weil Roland das Abitur nicht gemacht hat, darf er nicht an der Uni studieren.
  3. Mir gefallen die Filme von Fassbinder, weil sie provokativ sind.
  1. Otto is happy because Marlene wants to be with him.
  2. Because Roland did not do the Abitur, he is not allowed to study at the university.
  3. I like the films of Fassbinder because they are provocative.

Templates with Frame Elements:

  1. EFFECT, weil CAUSE.
  1. EFFECT, because CAUSE.

Details:

because

This is the most common way to say "because" in German. Watch out, though! This is a subordinating conjunction, which means that when it's used, the verb appears at the end of the clause. Check out the examples to see how this works.

wirken verb affect

Details:

to have an effect, affect, be effective

Don't let this verb's form fool you - it does NOT simply mean "work." Despite the etymological connection (the two words do derive from a root in their common ancestor language), this is a false friend. Its meaning is difficult to translate, and is sometimes described as "to act" or "to function." The main thing to remember is that this verb is not used with a meaning as direct as "cause," but it does denote some kind of effect. In fact, the related noun "Wirkung" means "effect."

Use the preposition "auf" to indicate who or what one has an effect "on." This verb-preposition combo can be used to say that someone makes a certain impression on another person. So if you hear "Sebastian wirkt böse," it does not mean that Sebastian has evil ("böse") effects, nor that he is evil. It means that he gives the impression of being evil. 

The best way to become familiar with the usage of "wirken" is to hear it in context, so whenever you come across it, take note and you will soon be comfortable using it yourself.

Example Sentences:

  1. Die Freunde und Familie von Leni sagen alle, sie habe in ihrem Leben viel Gutes gewirkt.
  2. Der Arzt gab dem Patienten ein Medikament, das schmerzstillend wirkte.
  3. Sam weiss nicht, wie er auf andere wirkt.
  4. Der neue Lehrer wirkt etwas nervös auf mich.
  1. The friends and family of Leni all said she had in her life affected a lot of good.
  2. The doctor gave the patient a medicine that had a painkilling effect.
  3. Sam doesn't know how he affects others.
  4. The new teacher has the effect on me that he appears nervous.

Templates with Frame Elements:

  1. CAUSE wirkt EFFECT.
  2. CAUSE wirkt auf AFFECTED.
  1. CAUSE affects EFFECT.
  2. CAUSE has EFFECT on AFFECTED.

Details:

to have an effect, affect, be effective

Don't let this verb's form fool you - it does NOT simply mean "work." Despite the etymological connection (the two words do derive from a root in their common ancestor language), this is a false friend. Its meaning is difficult to translate, and is sometimes described as "to act" or "to function." The main thing to remember is that this verb is not used with a meaning as direct as "cause," but it does denote some kind of effect. In fact, the related noun "Wirkung" means "effect."

Use the preposition "auf" to indicate who or what one has an effect "on." This verb-preposition combo can be used to say that someone makes a certain impression on another person. So if you hear "Sebastian wirkt böse," it does not mean that Sebastian has evil ("böse") effects, nor that he is evil. It means that he gives the impression of being evil. 

The best way to become familiar with the usage of "wirken" is to hear it in context, so whenever you come across it, take note and you will soon be comfortable using it yourself.

Alternate Forms:

es wirkt, hat gewirkt, wirkte