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Using um... zu... 

In English, when we talk about something being done for a purpose, we might use the phrase "in order to" or simply "to." In German, you will see the prepositions um and zu used in combination to express this, but they have to be implemented in a certain way.

In both of the examples below, one action is taken so that another may happen. Notice that the "to" in each English sentence could also be replaced with "in order to."


Wir lesen sie, um zu erfahren, was in der Welt passiert.

We read it to find out what's happening in the world.

Caption 2, Deutsch mit Eylin - Denk schnell!

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Die Seekuh muss mindestens einmal alle zwanzig Minuten auftauchen, um zu atmen.

The manatee must surface at least once every twenty minutes to breathe.

Captions 60-61, Die Top Ten - Die 12 freundlichsten Meerestiere der Welt

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In some more complex examples with direct objects and dependent clauses, you can see that there can actually be quite a lot of space between um and zu. However, zu and the infinitive are always at the very end. 


Und es wird benutzt, um Dinge und Lebewesen zu identifizieren.

And it's used to identify objects and living things.

Caption 49, Deutsch mit Eylin - Haben und Sein

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Wir beide arbeiteten,

We both worked

um neben der Schule etwas Geld zu verdienen.

to earn some money alongside school.

Captions 17-18, Konjugation - Das Verb „arbeiten“

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Da können Sie dann im Wartebereich das Mobiliar zerhacken,

With that, you can then chop up the furnishings in the waiting area

um sich ein Lagerfeuer zu machen.

to make yourselves a campfire.

Captions 16-17, Extra 3 - Das ehrliche Reisebüro

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Dann bist du nämlich ziemlich bald startklar,

Then pretty soon you'll be ready

um über Zukünftiges auf Deutsch zu sprechen.

to talk about the future in German.

Captions 63-64, Deutsch mit Eylin - Das Futur bilden

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Have you noticed that there is always a comma before um in these sentences that involve the um... zu... structure? This is a rather easy rule that you should keep in mind when writing. 


Further Learning
There are many examples of this construction on Yabla German, but why not also make up some sentences that are related to your life? 

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