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Learners often think they’re synonyms because dictionaries list “though” as translation for both of them. But the two words have completely different grammatical functions in German.
Obwohl is a so called into-word. So it is one of those words that create a sentence with all the verbs at the end in German.
- Obwohl ich heute keine Lust habe, mache ich Sport.
- Even though/ although I don’t have energy today, I work out.
trotzdem is an adverb and it works exactly the same way as the da-words like danach or darum. It can be at the beginning or in the middle of a sentence.
The best translation is despite that.
- Ich habe heute keine Energie. Trotzdem habe ich Sport gemacht.
- I have no energy today. Despite that I worked out today.
For a closer look, check out my article about “trotzdem”. There, you’ll also learn about “trotz” and we’ll do a couple of exercises that aren’t hard at all… (actually, they’re really really hard. I need to make them easier. Nerd level 9)
A fun look at the meaning and origin of "trotzdem" and a breakdown of when to use "trotz", "trotzdem" and "obwohl". Of course with audio examples :)
trotzdem, obwohl, der Trotz, trotzen, trotz