Skip to Content

When to skip “dass”

In English, it’s pretty common to skip a that if it is JUST connecting sentences.

  • I think (that) you should have another beer.
  • I said I (that) I’ll be late.

But is this also possible in German?

The answer to that is a resounding:

Yes, but!

It is possible, but I’d say it’s overall way less common than it is in English. It’s mainly used for short phrasings and usually involves basic verbs that are about your thoughts or opinions, like denken, glauben or finden.

And what’s important to note is that in German, we don’t just take out the dass out of the sentence. We actually have to rearrange the structure. Let’s suppose we want to say that we think (that) Thomas will come too late to the meeting.
Here’s the version with dass:

  • Ich glaube, dass Thomas zu spät zum Meeting kommt.

We have the typical side-sentence structure where the dass made the verb go all the way to the end.
And now, let’s try the same without dass.

Learner who have learned the whole verb-at-the-end thing well, often say stuff like this:

  • Ich glaube    Thomas zu spät zum Meeting kommt.

But this is WRONG! And not just academically. It sounds really wrong as well.
If there’s no dass, or no other “kicker-word as I call them, the sentence is not a side sentence, but just a regular sentence. So the correct version would be:

  • Ich glaube, Thomas kommt zu spät zum Meeting. 

Much closer to English actually.

But as I said, it’s not that common in German and can easily sound strange or even wrong. Like with wollen for example, it’s absolutely does not work

  • Ich will, du rufst mich an…. NOPE, Sounds W.R.O.N.G
  • Ich will, dass du mich anrufst.

From what I’ve seen, the two main verbs to do it with are really glauben and denken, so best to stick with those.