Since then or since?


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When do you have to use "since" use and when "since"? If you are faced with this question, a look into the good old Duden is of limited help. Because if you want to answer the question about separate and compound spelling correctly, you have to take a closer look at the context of the sentence.

Preposition, conjunction or adverb?

At this point we must delve a little deeper into grammar. For the question whether it should be "since" or "since then" concerns different kinds of words. At the heart of the matter is the question of whether it is a preposition (relative word) or a conjunction (connective word), or whether it is a word or phrase. Adverb (circumstantial word) acts. The best way to see this is by example sentences.

"Since" as a preposition/relational word

Let’s analyze an example sentence: "Since lunch, I feel bad." "since" and "the" are two different kinds of words, namely, a relative word (since) and an article (the), which just happen to be next to each other in the sentence and can be confused with the connective word "since".

In the example sentence, "since" is used as a temporal preposition, a temporal relation word. So the point is to show the temporal reference. In the example, the temporal relationship between lunch and nausea is clarified: first lunch, then nausea.

The time sequence could also be quite different: "During lunch I felt bad." – but not before and after, you can add in this case. Crucially, prepositions themselves are not inflected – so since always remains since – but the reference word is, in this case lunch. "Since lunch" becomes "during lunch" when using a different conjunction word. One time you need the dative case (Wemfall), another time you need the genitive case (Wesfall).

Important job aids on business correspondence:

You can use this inflection of the reference word as a sample. Replace "since" with another preposition that does not require the dative case, but a different case: If the case of the reference word changes, write "since" apart.

Extra tip: Just as the preposition "since" must always be in the dative case with a reference word and "while" must be in the genitive case, most other prepositions always require a specific case as well. You can easily find out which case to use in each case by looking up the ratio word in a dictionary like the Duden.

You can just as well try to use another reference word with a different gender, for example: "Since the lunch break I feel bad"."In this sentence, lunch (neuter) has been replaced by lunchtime (feminine). This changes the article and it is clear that "since" is a relation word.

"Since" as a conjunction/connective between main clause and subordinate clause

As a temporal conjunction, "since" introduces a subordinate clause, it connects parts of sentences together. Let’s transform our example a bit: "Ever since I ate fish for lunch, I’ve been feeling bad".

"Since I ate fish for lunch" is the subordinate clause here, subordinate to the main clause. The connective "since" establishes a temporal connection, but between two complete sentences: "I ate fish for lunch" and "I feel bad". Both parts of the sentence contain inflected verbs, namely "have" and "feel". This is a sure marker for sentences.

Mnemonic devices you can use to tell the ratio word and the connective word apart

The following mnemonic devices will help you to distinguish the temporal connective "since" from "since that" as a combination of conjunction and article:

  1. Analyze the sentence: If it is a main clause and a subordinate clause, there is a conjunction, "since" must be written together.
  2. Replace "since" with "since". In the case of a connective, this works ("Since I ate fish for lunch …"). This is not possible with the combination of a verb and an inflected article ("Since lunch …"), because then the article is omitted and missing in the sentence. "Since lunch …" – this is not a proper, complete sentence.
  3. If you rearrange the sentence, "since" will still be at the beginning of the subordinate clause: "I’ve been feeling bad since I ate fish for lunch". Unlike prepositions, conjunctions usually cannot change their position in the sentence/subordinate clause.

This is how you can tell when to write "since" together.

By the way, this of course also works without problems with the words "after" and "after that".

"Since then" as adverb/circumstantial word

The word "since" can also occur as a so-called temporal adverb, i.e. a temporal circumstantial word. The spelling is the same as for the connective: The adverb "seitdem" is also written together. The difference, however, is that the circumstantial word "since" does not form the link between main clause and subordinate clause, but establishes the temporal relation of a main clause to a preceding main clause. Again, this can be clearly explained with our example. We can present the facts described in two separate main clauses instead of in a sentence consisting of a main clause and a subordinate clause: "I ate fish for lunch. Since then I feel bad."

And how do you distinguish the adverb "since" from the combination of the ratio word and the article "since"? There is a mnemonic for this as well. Since a main clause with the circumstantial word "since" always refers to another, preceding main clause, you only have to check whether this reference is given. So in this case you have to write "since" together.

Genitive or dative? With comma or without? Upper or lower case? If you have questions about spelling and grammar in everyday office life, you need quick answers. In the sekretaria rubric spelling you will find them.

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