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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? 

German Travel Vocabulary, Part I

While many people in Germany have just come back from their Osterferien, people in the United States and elsewhere may already be thinking about trips they might take during summer vacation (der Sommerurlaub or die Sommerferien). This month, we'll devote a few lessons to looking at essential travel vocabulary in German.


You may remember how much trouble Jenny had deciding what kind of vacation to take. In German, a trip to a city is called die Städtereise, but many people like to keep things a bit more low key: 


Ah, klar, ich könnte eine Kreuzfahrt mit dem Schiff machen.

Ah, right, I could take a cruise with a ship.

Caption 32, Jenny: Reiseziele

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Strandurlaub bei Windstärke sechs...

Beach vacation with a wind velocity of six...

Caption 42, Traumberuf: Windsurfer

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Once decided, you'll have to plan your trip and make the necessary reservations: 


Ich möchte gerne eine Reise zum Europapark buchen.

I would like to book a trip to Europapark.

Caption 4, Reiseplanung: Anruf bei einem Reisebüro

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In der Hauptsaison empfiehlt es sich zu reservieren.

In high season, it is recommended to make a reservation.

Caption 37, Reisebericht Luxemburg

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Part of the planning is figuring out how you are going to get to your destination. 


Stattdessen mit Bus und Bahn zum Reiseziel fahren.

Instead, travel by bus and train to your destination.

Caption 44, WissensWerte: Tourismus und Nachhaltigkeit

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Also mit dem Auto würde ich heute nicht fahren.

So, I wouldn't go by car today.

Caption 45, Deutsch mit Eylin Das Wetter

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Von dort können Sie ein Auto mieten oder mit dem Bus fahren.

From there you can rent a car or travel by bus.

Caption 13, Reiseplanung: Anruf bei einem Reisebüro

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Damit höre ich manchmal Musik, wenn ich im Zug oder im Flugzeug sitze.

Sometimes I listen to music with them when I'm on the train or on a plane.

Captions 23-24, Deutsch mit Eylin: Denk schnell!

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Auf dem Schiff haben fünfhundertsechzehn Gäste Platz, richtig viel Platz.

There is room on the ship for five hundred and sixteen guests, really a lot of space.

Caption 10, Kreuzfahrtschiff: An Bord der Europa 2

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Hallo, liebe Yabla-Schüler, ich stehe heute hier auf einer Fähre.

Hello dear Yabla students, I am standing here today on a ferry.

Caption 1, Unterwegs mit Cettina: an der Rheinfähre

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Further Learning

More travel vocabulary is coming! In the meantime, we have so many fun travel videos on Yabla German. Just do a quick search and you'll quickly find yourself in HeidelbergInnsbruck, or the Alps! You may want to also check out this video on tourism and sustainability.