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Damit vs. Umzu


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It took me a while to figure out the difference between "damit" and "umzu," so I thought I'd make a post here in case anyone else was confused by this.

Both words indicate a reason for an action. You'd use them if you wanted to say "I went to the store to buy eggs," or "I spoke slowly so she could understand me." The difference between when to use the two German words is already evident in the examples I just gave you.

Umzu is used when the subject of both clauses is the same.

So, in the example I gave, the umzu sentence would be " Ich bin zum Supermarkt gegangen, um Eier zu kaufen."  Umzu also gets broken up, with the "um" directly after the main clause, and "zu" before the infinitive verb. Obviously "I" isn't used twice in this sentence, but "I" as the buyer of the eggs is implied.

Damit is used when the subjects differ.

For example: Ich habe langsam gesprochen, damit sie mich verstehen konnte. I am doing the speaking, but "she" is doing the understanding in the second clause, therefore this sentence requires "damit." Also note that damit is not broken up in the same way umzu is, and that the infinitive in damit clauses (here, verstehen) does not come at the end of the sentence, but rather before the main verb (konnte).

I hope that was clear and helpful! :)

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  • 1 year later...

If I'm not mistaken, I remember seeing instances where 'damit' (but never 'umzu', which must always be used with the same subject) could be used both in sentences with the same subject as well as different subjects in both clauses. I can't remember the exact example sentence I had read, it would be something like this: Ich bin ins Kino gegangen, damit ich mir den neuen Abenteuerfilm anschauen konnte.

The subject is 'ich' both in the main clause and the final. Would this sentence be grammatical?

I would love to hear what native speakers think :) 


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I don't think "umzu" exists as one word, but I get the point there.
It's similar to Dutch: "um Eier zu kaufen" → "om eieren te kopen" = "to buy eggs".
But "damit" would rather be "therefore" or "with this" I thought?
"Damit" translates to "daarmee": "Ik heb geld gekregen en heb daarmee eieren gekocht" → "Ich habe Geld bekommen und habe damit Eier gekauft" = "I got money, and bought eggs with it".

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