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Quick Answer

The German conjunctions "denn" and "weil" do not have a difference in meaning. If you can use "denn" in a sentence, you could have expressed the very same sentence using "weil" - and vice versa. However, you cannot just swap them out for one another.

While there is not difference in meaning between "weil" & "denn", they are not interchangable: You cannot simply take a sentence that uses "weil" and replace "weil" with "denn".

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Weil & Denn Explained

Weil

The reason for this is that weil & denn "dock onto" different sentence structures. "Weil" requires a subordinate clause, whereas "denn" requires a main clause. Let's have a look at sentence using weil:

Ich trinke ein Glas Wasser, weil ich Durst habe.

What comes after "weil" cannot stand on its own. It's a subordinate clause. "Ich Durst habe" is not be a correct sentence in German.

Denn

"Denn", however, works differently to "weil". It introduces a main clause. So the very same sentence with "denn" has a slightly different word order:

Ich trinke ein Glas Wasser, denn ich habe Durst.

"Ich habe Durst" can stand on it's own: it's a main clause.

And this is the reason why you cannot just swap "weil" & "denn" out however you please.

Denn cannot stand at the beginning of a sentence

Another difference is that "denn" can never stand at the beginning of a sentence. You cannot introduce a sentence with "denn".

So you could say:

Weil ich Angst hatte, blieb ich in der Wohnung.

But you could not say:

Denn ich Angst hatte, blieb ich in der Wohnung.

Examples with weil & denn

Weil

Here are two more basic dialogues using "weil":

πŸ‘©πŸ½Helen
Warum warst du krank? Und wie lange?
πŸ‘¨πŸ»β€πŸ¦°Olaf
Ich war die ganze letzte Woche krank, weil ich mich auf Katjas Hochzeit nicht warm genug angezogen habe!
πŸ§‘πŸ»β€πŸ¦±Peter
Warum kommst du nicht mit auf das Konzert?
πŸ‘©πŸ½β€πŸ¦±Sarah
Weil ich leider kein Geld habe. Aber nΓ€chstes Mal komme ich mit!

Denn

And here are two example dialogues using "denn":

πŸ§”πŸ»Wei
Ich freue mich auf das Konzert, denn ich war schon so lange nicht mehr aus!
πŸ‘¨πŸ»β€πŸ¦°Olaf
Ich freue mich auch! Wann gehen wir?
πŸ‘±πŸ»β€β™€οΈKatja
Wieso seid ihr nicht pΓΌnktlich angekommen?
πŸ‘©πŸΎNoora
Wir mussten auf der Autobahn sehr langsam fahren, denn es regnte zu stark!