weil

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German[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From the accusative of Middle High German wīle, from Old High German wīla, from Proto-West Germanic *hwīlu, from Proto-Germanic *hwīlō.

Pronunciation[edit]

  • IPA(key): /vaɪ̯l/
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -aɪ̯l

Conjunction[edit]

weil

  1. because, given that
    Ich kann nicht kommen, weil ich krank bin.
    I can't come because I'm sick.

Usage notes[edit]

  • In standard German, weil is a subordinating conjunction and links a subordinate clause with the conjugated verb in the final position:[1] Sie hat den Zug verpasst, weil sie schon wieder verschlafen hat. (She missed the train because she overslept yet again.) At the beginning of a sentence, some style guides prefer replacing weil with da: Da sie schon wieder verschlafen hat, hat sie den Zug verpasst.
  • In spontaneous speech, weil is also used as a coordinating conjunction by linking a second independent clause with the conjugated verb in the second position:[2] Sie hat den Zug verpasst, weil sie hat schon wieder verschlafen. Here, weil functions similarly to denn: Sie hat den Zug verpasst, denn sie hat schon wieder verschlafen. In writing which imitates speech (such as texting), this same phenomenon can be observed.
  • It is possible that weil is currently undergoing a process of re-grammaticalization in which it can be used like da or denn; that is, as a subordinating or coordinating conjunction. From 1955 to 1974, only 8.3% of weil-clauses in spontaneous speech were verb-second,[3] yet by 1993 to 2000, this had increased to 46.6%.[4] If such a process is underway, it is far from complete: Usage of weil as a coordinating conjunction with a verb-second word order remains nonstandard[5] and is virtually non-existent in formal written German.

References[edit]

  1. ^ “Unterordnende Konjunktionen: (Subordinierende Konjunktionen, Subjunktionen)”, in Leos deutsche Grammatik[1], accessed November 2023, archived from the original on 2021-07-11
  2. ^ Petra Schulz; Emanuela Sanfelici (2020), “Children are sensitive to the default verb order in German subordinate clauses: Evidence from ‘because’ clauses in spontaneous speech”, in Proceedings of the 44th Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development[2], pages 548-561
  3. ^ Ulrike Freywald (2010), “Obwohl vielleicht war es ganz anders: Vorüberlegungen zum Alter der Verbzweitstellung nach subordinierenden Konjunktionen”, in Historische Textgrammatik und Historische Syntax des Deutschen: Traditionen, Innovationen, Perspektiven[3], pages 55-84
  4. ^ Kempen, G.; Harbusch, K. (2016), “Verb-second word order after German weil ‘because’: Psycholinguistic theory from corpus-linguistic data”, in Glossa: a journal of general linguistics[4], archived from the original on 2023-05-29
  5. ^ “Satzbau nach „weil“”, in Duden[5], accessed September 2023, archived from the original on 2023-07-31

Further reading[edit]

  • weil” in Duden online
  • weil” in Digitales Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache