My German students sometimes assume that weil and deshalb can be used synonymously because they are similar in meaning. However, the two words belong to different grammatical categories and follow different word order rules in German. This post explains the difference between them and shows you how to use them.
Weil (because) and deshalb (therefore) are indeed similar in meaning. However, weil is a subordinate clause conjunction that sends the conjugated verb to the end of the sentence, whereas deshalb is a main clause connector that is followed by the conjugated verb. Let's look at some examples. I highlighted the conjugated verbs in red.
Ich lerne Deutsch, weil ich einen deutschen Partner habe.
(I‘m learning German because I have a German partner)
Ich habe einen deutschen Partner. Deshalb lerne ich Deutsch.
(I have a German Partner. Therefore, I‘m learning German)
Er kauft im Internet ein, weil es praktisch ist.
(He shops online because it is convenient)
Es ist praktisch. Deshalb kauft er im Internet ein.
(It is convenient. Therefore, he shops online)
As the examples show, you have to focus on the position of the conjugated verb when using the two words.
Weil and deshalb are by no means the only two words that follow a different word order. In separate blog posts, we explain the difference between nachdem and danach and bevor and vorher, trotzdem and obwohl and other tricky subordinate conjunctions, such as als vs. wenn in German and um...zu vs. damit. So check out my posts and leave a comment. And if you found this post helpful, leave a like.