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Subcategories

This category has the following 2 subcategories, out of 2 total.

German prepositional phrases (0 c, 4 e)


German pronominal adverbs (0 c, 41 e)

Pages in category "German prepositions"


The following 121 pages are in this category, out of 121 total.

la

a.

ab

abseits

abzgl.

abzglich

after

an

angesichts

anhand

anlsslich

anllich

anstatt

anstelle

auf

auf Seiten

auf seiten

auff

aufgrund

aufseiten

aus

au

ausser

auer

auerhalb

bar
bei

betreffend

betreffs

bey

bezglich

binnen

bis

bi

bzgl.

dank
diesseits

dreiviertel

durch

eingedenk
einschlielich

entgegen

entlang

entsprechend

f.
fuer

fr

gegen
gegenber

gemss

gem

gen

hinauf
hinsichtlich

hinter

in
infolge

inklusive

inmitten

inn

inner

innerhalb

je nach
jenseits

kraft

lngs
laut

m.
m/

mangels

mit

mit Hilfe

mithilfe

mitsamt

mittels

nach
nchst

nahe

neben

nebst

ob
oberhalb

ohne

per
pro

sammt
samt

seit

sonder

statt

trotz

ber
um

um willen

ungeachtet

unter

unterhalb

unweit

vermittels
vermge

viertel

Viertel nach

Viertel vor

vis--vis

von

vor

vorbei

whrend
wegen

wg.

wider

zu
zu Gunsten

zufolge

zugunsten

zuzglich

zwecks

zwischen

zzgl.

Basic patterns in German language:

Prepositions in German
:
Prepositions are words which define the relation between different items. Prepositions give
information
about
direction,
position
and
time
in
a
sentence.
What complicates German is that prepositions usually require a certain case. In German
prepositions can be divided into different groups, prepositions + Accusative case and
prepositions + Dative case.

Preposition followed by the Accusative case:

Preposition followed by the Dative case:

Preposition followed by the Genitive case:

Note:
There is a group of german preposition which take either the accusative or the dative depending
on whether the emphasis is on movement or position.

You use the accusative form for direction and movement and answers the question where to. The
dative form indicates position and location and answers the question where.
Examples:
English: I put the book on the table.
Preposition: on -> auf (accusative or dative form possible)
Form: accusative form -> put on the table (movement)
German: Ich lege das Buch auf den Tisch
English: The book is on the table.
Preposition: on -> auf (accusative or dative form possible)
Form: dative form -> is on the table (position)
German: Das Buch liegt auf dem Tisch
English: He is travelling by car.
Preposition: by -> mit
Form: dative form
German: Er fhrt mit dem Auto

Prepositions are frequently used words, such as 'from', 'on', 'with', that are followed by a noun or
a pronoun to define how people and things relate to each other in a sentence.

The functions of prepositions in English and German are very similar. However, German
prepositions are a bit more complicated than the English ones, due to the fact that they always
require a certain case following them. Thus, whenever you use a preposition, you must be aware
of the case that preposition governs and the changes this may imply.
German prepositions could be divided into groups, according to the case they require.

Prepositions which take the accusative case


Prepositions which take the dative case

Prepositions which take the genitive case

Prepositions which take either the accusative or the dative case

This lesson will discuss the first three groups.

Prepositions + Accuasative Case


The following German prepositions are always followed by the accusative case:
Preposition Definition
bis
until
durch
through
fr
for
gegen
against
ohne
without
um
around, at
Example
Ich bleibe bis Morgen
Sie guckt durch das Loch
Danke fr das Geschenk
Gegen wen haben sie gekmpft?
Wir sind gegen vier angekommen
Ich reise nie ohne meinen Wecker
Der Bahnhof ist um die Ecke
Es fngt um neun Uhr an

Meaning
I'm staying until tomorrow
She's looking through the hole
Thank you for the gift
Against whom did they fight?
We arrived around four o'clock
I never travel without my alarm clock
The station is around the corner
It starts at nine o'clock

Note that 'gegen' means 'around' when used to refer to time, while 'um' means 'around' when
used for directions.
Short Form
In some instances, the preposition and the definite article 'das' are joined together.

durch das = durchs

fr das = frs

um das = ums

Prepositions + Dative Case


The following German prepositions are always followed by the dative case:
Preposition Definition
aus
from, out of
auer
apart from
bei
at, near
gegenber opposite
mit
with
nach
after, to
seit
since, for
von
from
zu
to
Example
Er kommt aus Berlin
Sie trinkt aus der Flasche
Niemand kennt es auer meinem Bruder
Mein Onkel wird bei uns wohnen
Er ist noch beim Friseur
Er wohnt uns gegenber
Ich spiele Schach mit ihm
Nach dem Konzert gingen sie nach Hause
Seit seiner Kindheit wohnt sie in Frankfurt
Ich habe die Krankheit seit einem Jahr
Das Geschenk ist von meiner Schwester
Ich muss zu Hause bleiben

Meaning
He comes from Berlin
She is drinking out of the bottle
Nobody knows it except my brother
My uncle is going to live at our house
He is still at the hairdresser's
He lives opposite to us
I play chess with him
After the concert they went home
Since her childhood she has been living in Frankfurt
I have had this illness for one year
The gift is from my sister
I must stay at home

Take note that 'gegenber' never precedes pronouns, it follows them. But it can either precede or
follow a noun.
Also note that 'seit' is only used for expressing time, and in German, it's used with the present
tense, unlike English, which uses 'since' with the perfect tense (tenses will be discussed in detail
in later lessons).
Short Form
In some instances, the preposition and the definite article are joined together.

bei + dem = beim


von + dem = vom

zu + dem = zum

zu + der = zur

Preposition + Genitive Case


The final group of German prepositions in this lesson is the one that always takes the genitive
case.
Preposition
Definition
trotz
despite, in spite of
whrend
during
wegen
because of
(an)statt
instead of
You'll probably use this type of German prepositions more frequently at a more advanced level.
Example
Er kommt trotz seiner Krankheit zur Schule
Whrend unserer Ferien fahren wir nach Spanien
Wir konnten wegen ihrer Versptung nicht gleich
abfahren
(An)statt seiner Schwester ist seine Tante
gekommen

Meaning
He's coming to school in spite of his illness
During our vacation we're going to Spain
We couldn't depart immediately because of
her delay
His aunt came instead of his sister

This ends the first lesson on German prepositions. Make sure to solve this lesson's exercise, and
to clearly memorize the case of each preposition before heading onto the second part of the
lesson.

Lesson 7 - Prepositions II
Preposition + Accusative or Dative Case
Some prepositions in German take either the accusative or the dative case, depending on whether
the emphasis of the sentence is on the position or the location, these prepositions are called 'twoway prepositions'.
The accusative case is used when the sentence expresses change of position or movement toward
a place, while the dative case is used when the sentence expresses position or place within a
fixed location.

The most common two-way prepositions are:


Preposition Definition
an
to, onto, at
auf
on, onto
hinter
behind
in
in, into
neben
next to
ber
over
unter
under
vor
in front of
zwischen between
Combination
Example
an + acc.
Sie hngt das Bild an die Wand
an + dat.
Das Bild hngt an der Wand
auf + acc.
Sie legt das Messer auf den Tisch
auf + dat.
Das Messer liegt auf dem Tisch
hinter + acc. Er stellt die Schuhe hinter die Tr
hinter + dat.
Die Schuhe stellen hinter der Tr
in + acc.
Die Kinder gehen in die Schule
in + dat.
Der Kinder sind in der Schule
neben + acc. Ich stelle den Stuhl neben das Fenster

Definition
She is hanging the picture on the wall
The picture is hanging on the wall
She lays the knife on the table
The knife lies on the table
He puts the shoe behind the door
The shoes are behind the wall
The children go to school
The children are in school
I place the chair next to the window
The chair is (standing) next to the
neben + dat. Der Stuhl steht neben dem Fenster
window
ber + acc.
Der Junge klettert ber den Zaun
The boy is climbing over the fence
ber + dat.
Der Handtuch hngt ber dem Zaun
The towel is hanging over the fence
unter + acc.
Der Ball rollte unter den Stuhl
The ball rolled under the chair
unter + dat.
Der Ball ist unter dem Stuhl
The ball is under the chair
vor + acc.
Stell den Stuhl vor das Fenster
Put the chair in front of the window
vor + dat.
Ich sitze vor dem Fernseher
I'm sitting infront of the TV
zwischen +
Sie hat den Brief zwischen das Buch und She placed the letter between the book
acc.
die Zeitung gelegt
and the newspaper
Der Brief liegt zwischen dem Buch und The letter is lying between the book and
zwischen + dat.
der Zeitung
the newspaper
In each of the accusative examples shown above, the verb shows movement from one place to
another; thus the accusative case is used.
The dative examples however don't indicate movement, instead they only describe location, they
tell where someone or something is, thus the dative case is used.
Verbs Accompanied by Two-way Prepositions

Some verbs that don't describe motion or position are accompanied by two-way prepositions.
Most of these verbs require the accusative case, since they don't indicate location; however, there
are a few that require the dative case.
Some of the most common verbs are shown in the table below:
Verb
achten auf
sich beklagen ber
denken an
sich erinnern an
erkennen an
sich freuen auf
sich freuen ber
glauben an
hoffen auf
sich irren in
leiden an
reden ber
schreiben an
schreiben ber
schtzen vor
sprechen ber
sterben an
teilnehmen an
sich verlassen auf
sich verlieben in
warnen vor
warten auf

Case Definition
acc. pay attention to
acc. complain about
acc. think about
acc. remind of
dat. recognize by
acc. look forward to
acc. be glad about
acc. believe in
acc. hope for
acc. be wrong about
dat. suffer from
acc. talk about
acc. write to
acc. write about
dat. protect from
acc. speak about
dat. die from
dat. take part in
acc. rely on
acc. fall in love with
dat. warn against
acc. wait for

Short Form
In some instances, the preposition and the definite article are joined together.

an + das = ans
an + dem = am

auf + das = aufs

in + das = ins

in + dem = im

hinter + das = hinters

ber + das = bers

unter + das = unters

vor + das = vors

German
Prepositions
Page:
1. 1
2. 2
3. 3
4. 4
5. 5
1. Next
Prepositions show the relationship between different parts of the sentence.

Prepositions
The relationships prepositions show can be physical:

The mouse is under the table.


I'm walking into a shop.

Or they can be more philosophical:

I'm looking forward to the summer holiday.


He believes in God.

Prepositions are sometimes known as trigger words. This is because whenever you use a
preposition it 'triggers' a change in the item immediately afterwards.

Prepositions
Page:
1. 1

2. 2
3. 3
4. 4
5. 5
1. Back
2. Next

Accusative prepositions
The following prepositions 'trigger' the accusative:

Prepositions or 'triggers'
Preposition
Translation
fr
For
um
Around/for/at (time)
durch
Through
gegen
Against
entlang
Along
bis
Until
ohne
Without
wider
Against
To help you remember them, notice that when you spell out the first letter of each word in the
table above it reads 'fudge bow'.

Examples

Arsenel spielt gegen eine europische Mannschaft -> Arsenal is playing against a
European team.
Wir sind durch den alten Markt gelaufen -> We walked through the market.

Ich interessiere mich fr moderne Technologie -> I'm interested in modern technology.

Dative prepositions
The following prepositions 'trigger' the dative.

To help you remember them you can sing them to the tune of the beginning of Good King
Wenceslas.

Prepositions or triggers
Preposition
Translation
aus
From/out of
bei
At/at the house of
mit
With
nach
To (a place)/after/past (time)
seit
Since/for (time)
von
From
zu
To
gegenber Opposite
auer
Except for
zu + dem = zum
zu + der = zur

von + dem = vom

Examples

Meine Mutter kommt aus einem kleinen Dorf -> My mum comes from a little village.
Ich studiere Deutsch seit vielen Jahren -> I've been learning German for many years.

Meine Schwester tanzt mit ihrer besten Freundin -> My sister dances with her best friend.

Mixed prepositions
The following prepositions can 'trigger' the accusative or the dative.

Prepositions or triggers
Preposition (accusative
Translation
trigger)
an
On-vertical
On-horizontal,
auf
upon
hinter
Behind

Preposition (dative
trigger)
neben

Next to/beside

ber

Over/above

unter

in

vor

Under/among
In front of/before/to
(time)

In/into

Translation

Preposition (accusative
trigger)

an + dem = am
in + dem = im

in + das = ins

Translation

Preposition (dative
trigger)
zwischen

Translation
Between

English sentences

I am sitting between my parents -> I am sitting still.


I sit down between my parents -> I am moving from standing up to sitting between my
mum and dad.

I am in the book shop -> I am inside the shop all the time.

I am going in(to) the book shop -> I am moving from outside into the book shop.

The mistletoe is hanging over my head -> It isnt moving about its hanging still.

The plane flew over the house -> It moved from elsewhere to over the house.

All the prepositions in this list can behave like this:

They can be used to talk about something's position where it does not move from one
place to another.
They can be used to talk about something's position where it moves from elsewhere into
that position.

Where there is place to place movement, the prepositions trigger the accusative.

Where there is no place to place movement, the prepositions trigger the dative.

Examples

Ich gehe in die Stadt -> I'm moving from place to place -> accusative (I go into town).
Ich bin in der Stadt -> I'm staying in same place -> dative (I am in town).

Ich klebe ein Poster an die Wand -> Poster moving from place to place -> accusative (I'm
sticking a poster onto the wall).

Es gibt ein Poster an der Wand -> Poster staying in same place -> dative (There's a poster
on the wall).

Er luft zwischen seine Freunde -> Friends are staying still, he's moving between and
past them -> accusative (He's walking between his friends).

Er luft zwischen seinen Freunden -> They're all walking, so in relation to the friends,
hes in same place -> dative (He's walking between his friends) to the friends, he's in
same place.

Genitive prepositions
The following prepositions 'trigger' the genitive.

Prepositions or 'triggers'
PrepositionTranslation
(an)statt
Instead of
trotz
In spite of
auerhalb Outside
whrend During
innerhalb Inside
wegen
Because of

Examples

Whrend der Woche darf ich nicht ausgehen -> During the week I'm not allowed out.
Ich bin wegen des Wetters nicht gegangen -> I didn't go because of the weather.

Ich wohne auerhalb der Stadt -> I live outside the town.

Common mistakes made by English speakers

Not learning what case follows each preposition.


Not knowing whether to use dative or accusative with mixed preposition.

1 Prepositions with Accusative


2 Prepositions with Dative

3 Prepositions with Genitive

4 Prepositions with Accusative/Dative

Accusative Accusative/Dative Dative


bis
an
ab

Genitive
anstatt

auf
hinter
in
neben
ber
unter
vor
zwischen

durch
fr
gegen
ohne
um
wider

aus
auer
bei
aufgrund
entgegen
auerhalb
entsprechend dank
mit
statt
nach
whrend
seit
wegen
von
zu

Prepositions with Accusative

bis
durch

fr

gegen

ohne

um

wider

until (LOCATIVE or TEMPORAL)

bis

bis bald
(see you soon)
bis in den Tod
von Kopf bis Fu
(from head to toe)

durch

by means of, through (LOCATIVE)


Eine Reise durch Deutschland
(a trip through Germany)
Wir fahren durch den Fluss
(we are driving through the river)

(Expressions):
10 [geteilt] durch 5 ist gleich 2
(10 divided by 5 is 2)
Used in the construction of the passive voice:
Google wird durch Werbung finanziert
(Google is financed by advertisements)
Important verbs followed by the preposition durch:
waten durch
(to wade through)

fr

for (PURPOSE)
sterben fr dich
(to die for you)

of (PURPOSE)
Institut fr Allgemeine Physik
(Institute of General Physics)

Contractions: frs (fr + das)


Important verbs followed by the preposition fr:

abstellen fr
(to send to)
adaptieren fr
(to adapt to/for)

agitieren fr
(to campaign for)

Geld ausgeben fr
(to spend money for)

brgen fr
(to vouch for)

einstehen fr
(to be responsible for something)

sich entscheiden fr
(to decide on)

entschuldigen fr
(to apologize for)

interessieren fr
(to be interested in)

sorgen fr
(to take care of something)

vertauschen fr
(to change for)

gegen

against (LOCAL)
Kampf gegen den Krebs
(the fight against cancer)
gegen die Wand
(against the wall)

toward, about, approximately (TEMPORAL)


Er kommt gegen 9.00 ins Bro
(Hes coming to the office at 9:00) [approximately]

Important verbs followed by the preposition gegen:

abdichten gegen
(to seal against)
abhrten gegen
(to strengthen against)

abschirmen gegen
(to protect against)

agitieren gegen
(to campaign against)

protestieren gegen
(to protest against)

ohne

Welt ohne Krieg


(a world without war)

um

at (TEMPORAL)
um zehn Uhr
(at ten o'clock)
um ein Haar(very nearly)

at, around (LOCAL)


um die Ecke
(around the corner)

Important verbs followed by the preposition um:

bitten um
(to ask for/ to request)
kmmern um
(to care for)

wider

against
Er handelt wider das Gesetz
(He is acting against the law)
Wider Erwarten kam der Gast doch noch
(Against all expectations, the guest arrived)

Prepositions with Dative

ab
aus

auer

bei

entgegen

entsprechend

mit

nach

seit

von

zu

starting at/on (TIME)

ab

ab dem 24. Februar


(starting on the 24th of February)

from (PLACE, ORIGIN)


Wir fliegen ab Kln
(we fly from Cologne)

aus

from (PLACE, origin)


Wein aus Italien
(Wine from Italy)
Ich komme aus Spanien
(I come from Spain)
Wir kommen aus der Stadt
(We come from the city)

from, out of (MATERIAL)


Tisch aus Holz
(Table out of wood)

Important verbs followed by the preposition aus:

auswhlen aus
(select from)
bestehen aus
(consists of, to be composed of)

ableiten aus
(to derive from)

kommen aus
(to come from)

vertreiben aus
(to expel from)

auer

without
Auer der Liebe nichts
(Nothing else besides love)
Wir sprechen alles auer Hochdeutsch
(We speak everything except high German)

(expressions)
auer Betrieb
(out of service)

bei

next to, near to (PLACE)


Die Schule ist bei der Apotheke
(the school is next to the pharmacy)

in, with, at
Ich arbeite bei Porsche
(I work at Porsche)
bei Montage
(during assembly)

Contractions: beim (bei + dem)


Main article: preposition bei

entgegen

against, contrary to

entgegen allen Erwartungen


(contrary to all expectations)

(expressions)
entgegen dem Uhrzeigersinn
(counter-clockwise)

entsprechend

according to
entsprechend dieser Regel
(according to this rule)
den Umstnden entsprechend
(according to the circumstances)

mit

with (MODAL)
Spiel mit mir
(Play with me)
Er reist mit dem Fahrrad
(Hes traveling with his bike)

Important verbs followed by the preposition mit:

ausrsten mit
(to equip with)
beginnen mit
(to begin with)

eindecken mit
(to supply with)

hantieren mit
(to be busy with, to temper with)

multiplizieren mit
(to multiply by)

protzen mit
(to make a show of)

rechnen mit
(to count on, reckon)

reden mit
(to talk with)

sprechen mit
(to speak with)

teilen mit
(to share with)

sich treffen mit


(to meet with)

zusammenhngen mit
(to be related with)

nach

to, toward (LOCATIVE)


Sie geht nach Berlin
(Shes going to Berlin)
- nach is used for cities or countries that dont have an article
- Expression: nach Hause ([Im going] home)

to (LOCATIVE)
nach links
(to the left)

after (TEMPORAL)
Sie studiert nach der Arbeit
(She studies after work)

Main article: preposition nach

seit

since (TEMPORAL)
Besucher seit 2008
(visitors since 2008)

von

from, of (LOCATIVE OR TEMPORAL)


das Lied von der Erde
(the song from the Earth)

Contractions: vom (von + dem)


Important verbs followed by the preposition von:

abbringen von
(to dissuade from)
abhngen von
(to depend on)

ablassen von
(to desist from)

abschreiben von
(to copy from)

abweichen von
(to deviate from)

entbinden von
(to absolve from)

zurcktreten von
(to resign from/ to back out of)

Used in the construction of the passive voice:


Google wurde von 2 Mathematikern gemacht
(Google was made by 2 mathematicians)

zu

towards
er kommt zu mir
(he is coming to me)
"Zu" is used with the meaning of to
- when we are heading to a person or a specific place (with a name)

on, at, to

Er kommt zu Fu
(Hes coming on foot)
bergang zu der Demokratie
(Transition to democracy)

(EXPRESSIONS)
Ich bleibe zu Hause
(I stay at home)
Der Weg zum Meer
(The way to the sea)
Informationen zu Italien
(Information on Italy)

Contractions: zum (zu + dem), zur (zu + der)


Main article: preposition zu

Prepositions with Genitive

anstatt
aufgrund

auerhalb

dank

statt

whrend

wegen

anstatt

instead of
Ich will anstatt der Pommes lieber mehr Salat
(I want more salad instead of French fries)

aufgrund

due to, based on

Diskriminierung aufgrund des Glaubens


(Discrimination due to beliefs)

auerhalb

outside of, out of


Auerhalb des Bereichs
(Out of the area)

dank

thanks to
Dank deines Tipps hat es geklappt
(It worked thanks to your tip)

statt

instead of
Sie gab ihren Schmuck statt des Gelds
(She gave her jewelry instead of the money)

whrend

during
Whrend des Jahres 2008
(During 2008)

wegen

because of, due to


Wegen eines Fehlers
(Due to a mistake)

Important verbs followed by the preposition wegen:

zerstreiten wegen
(to quarrel because of)

Prepositions with Accusative/Dative

They are also called "Wechselprpositionen". They are accusative if they indicate movement and
dative if they indicate a state (of rest).

an
auf

hinter

in

neben

ber

unter

vor

zwischen

There are some verbs that always indicate movement and other that always indicate a state of
rest.
Verbs of movement
(regular and transitive)

stellen (to place vertically)


legen (to place horizontally)

setzen (to set, sit)

hngen (to hang)

Verbs of state
(irregular and intransitive)

stehen (to stand)


liegen (to be lying down)

sitzen (to be seated)

hngen (to be hung)

an

on, in, next to


Wenn ich an deiner Stelle wre, wrde ich ...
(If I were in your position, I would...)

(EXPRESSIONS)
Am Sonntag
(On Sunday)
Am Abend
(in the evening)

Contractions: am (an + dem), ans (an + das)


Main Article: preposition 'an'

auf

in, about, on

Contractions: aufs (auf + das)


Important verbs with auf:

absetzen auf
(to set down on)
achten auf
(to pay attention to)

achtgeben auf
(to look out for)

anstoen auf
(to toast for)

antworten auf
(to reply to)

ausweisen auf
(to expel from)

sich freuen auf


(to be happy about)

warten auf
(to wait for)

zielen auf
(to aim for)

zuschieen auf
(to hurdle toward)

Main article: preposition auf

hinter

behind
Gehen Sie bitte hinter das Haus
(Please go behind the house)

in

in, inside

Important verbs followed by the preposition in:

einbauen in
(to insert into)
einbinden in
(to include in)

sich verlieben in
(to fall in love with)

versunken in
(to engulfed in)

zerteilen in
(to divide into)

Contractions: im (in + dem), ins (in + das)


Main article: preposition in

neben

ber

next to, near

over, about, on top of (but without contact)

Important verbs followed by the preposition "ber":

nachdenken ber
(to think about)
reden ber
(to talk about)

unter

under
Die Ente liegt unter dem Tisch
(The duck is under the table)

vor

in front of
Sie wartet vor der Schule
(She is waiting in front of)

ago
Ich bin vor vier Jahren nach Deutschland gekommen
(I arrived in Germany four years ago)

zwischen

between
Ein Vertrag zwischen Vatikan und der Freien und Hansestadt Hamburg
(A contract between the Vatican and the free and Hanseatic city of Hamburg)

Time 5 Prepositions
| 45 Comments

Tagged as: Lecture

Hello everyone,
and welcome to the German is Easy Learn German Online Course and today, its time for
THEM.
Prepare yourself for the 5th part of the Time Mini Series, get ready for:
Time prepositions
Now, if youre like Oh god oh god, prepositions this one is going to be so hard, I dont know
if I can handle it (which, on an unrelated note, is in fact what she said) I have good news for
you:
German time prepositions are neither hard nor numerous. The reason why we are talking about
them this late in the series is not the level of difficulty but the mere fact that many examples with
prepositions use words weve learned in the parts before. And also, you need to be able to
correctly address points in time first before you can use a preposition to put this point in time in a
relation with something. Because thats what prepositions do they express relations between
stuff (read more about prepositions in general here).
So today is not going to be too tough, I promise.
I want to say one thing before we start. I will give the English translation for each preposition but
I will also give an explanation of the relation or concept it expresses. The reason for that is that
not everyone reading this is a native English speaker and it is very well imaginable that one
English preposition has 3 possible translations in another language just like but vs the German
equivalents. So if you find the explanations technical and overly complicated and you are like
Yeah move on I got it, its since. , please indulge me.
Alright there is one concept which you need to understand first..nothing too serious just
some little something : the difference between a time span and a point in time. A time span is a
measure of time. It can be in minutes, seconds, hours, days, years, moments or even just time.

3 days, 5 years, some time, one moment, a while

All these are measures of time like How much time? 3 Days.
A point in time on the contrary is what we basically have learned to point out in the 3 preceding
articles.. a word or a group of words that kind of names a more or less specific point in time

soon, last Monday, tomorrow, 12:30, now many many more

All these are examples for points in time like At what point in time/ When? Tomorrow.
Now why does this matter, you ask? Because some prepositions only work with a span, some
only with a point and some are ok with either. An English example for this are the prepositions
since and for. For needs a span while since wants a point as indication.

I have been here since yesterday.


I have been here for 5 minutes.

I have been here for yesterday is pretty damn wrong you know because the colors
dont match :)

So for each preposition I will tell you whether it takes a point, a span or both. Ok I think
now were set.
vor (pron. : foa)
Vor is THE word to give a measure between now and some point in the past However you do
this in your language, even if you have a million ways in German, all those will be vor in
English this is done by the word ago so we could say that vor is ago... However, the structure is
different. Vor is a PRE-position whilst ago is well, not a preposition if any sition than it
is a post-position.

3 days ago, I met my grandma.


Vor 3 Tagen habe ich meine Oma besucht.

Maria went to the library an hour ago.

Maria ist vor einer Stunde in die Bibliothek gegangen.

So basically the only difference between ago and vor is the position vor comes first, ago
comes last. Now, if you are a beginner and you are a native English speaker and you want to say
some ago-thing in German it will happen to you that you start right with the span like here:

2 years ago, I did something.


2 Jahre uh

If you do that, start over! There is no way to save this and get anywhere near correct. You cant
just say vor at the end of something. Vor starts a group of word or in jargon a romauh semantic
unit. A German would need to do brain gymnastics to figure out that the vor is supposed to be
part of the time indication that has already been said. so it is no problem if it happens, you
have to get used to say vor first, but start over if you do it wrong and correct yourself.
Now, here is one thing vor and ago have in common that might not be so in other languages
lets say you saw a pink fluorescent Elephant last Monday. However, that wasnt the first time
because you had seen this beauty already on Saturday can you tell the story using vor 2 Tagen?

Ich habe am Montag wieder den pinken, floureszierenden Elefanten gesehen, den ich
schon vor 2 Tagen gesehen hatte.
On Monday, I have seen the pink, fluorescent elephant I had seen 2 days ago.

This doesnt work. Neither in English nor in German. Both words, ago and vor do refer to
(some) now. This might be different in other languages, so I felt like I have to say it. Anyway
moving on.
in (pron.: somewhat similar to greyhound but less syllables and different sounds)
In has 2 functions. First, it is the equivalent of vor in the future. If you want to indicate a time
difference, a span, between now and some point to come use in.

Ich rufe dich in 5 Minuten zurck.


I will call you back in 5 minutes.

In 100 Jahren gibt es vielleicht fliegende Autos.

There might be flying cars in 100 years.

German and English are obviously pretty much the same here in in sense of x- time from now
is in.
The second thing in is used for is a general indication of a duration that is needed for an
achievement yeah I didnt understand that last part neither. The best way to grasp it is to
think of it as the answer to in what amount of time have you done that?.

Ich habe in 3 Monaten Deutsch gelernt.


Ive learned German in 3 months.

It also works for the future.

Morgen trinke ich in einer Stunde 3 Kaffee.


Tomorrow, Ill drink 3 coffees in one hour.

Here, we have 2 time indications and thats why it is clear which in is meant. However,
sometimes it might be confusing.

Ich mache meine Kche in 3 Tagen sauber.


I am going to clean my kitchen in 3 days.

This is not clear. do you do 3 days from now or will it take you 3 days to do it I dont know.
Also here, German and English are the same however, so if you have a feel for English, this
shouldnt be a problem in German.
But there is one difference between the German and the English in. The German one is not used
for ins that are used in sense of since or for.

I havent eaten in 3 days.


Ich habe in 3 Tagen nichts gegessen. is wrong

This does NOT work in German so just remember the 2 concepts of in and dont think of it as a
mere translation of well in which is the best approach to prepositions anyway. Theyre not
translated. They have certain concepts and are used for these. Sometimes the concepts are the
same, sometimes theyre not. Before we move on, here is a weird example, that uses in in both
ways.

In 100 Jahren kann man vielleicht in einer Stunde von Berlin nach NY fliegen.
A hundres years from now, it might be possible to fly from Berlin to NY in one hour.

seit (pron. : zuyt)


Seit is used to indicate an unfinished action or state that, and this is crucial, has started in the
PAST. Seit can be used with time spans and points which means that it is the German word for
since AND for and also in as we learned above.

Ich lerne seit Juni Deutsch.


I have been learning German since June.

Ich lerne seit 4 Monaten Deutsch.

I have been learning for 4 months.

Ich war seit 4 Wochen nicht mehr an der Uni.

I havent been to university in 4 weeks.

So you see it works in all those situations.


There is one little thing I feel I should mention seit is NOT for in the following example.

I have slept for a while.

This action is over. Youre clearly not sleeping anymore. So it not part of the concept of seit.
Hence, you cant use seit here. The correct German phrase would use no preposition at all.

Ich habe eine Weile geschlafen.

Now, some of you might ask which tense they have to use with seit. That is a hard question. As
you might have realized, German is really lax when it comes to tenses so much so that the
common subconscious compensates for this lack of precision by valuing punctuality so
much this is just a theory though :) anyway so tenses. Frankly it is nothing to worry
about both the following examples are correct.

Ich habe seit einer Woche kein Fleisch gegessen


Ich esse seit einer Woche kein Fleisch.

I havent eaten meat in a week.

The first sentence states a mere fact. You just happened to not eat any meat. The second sentence
expresses that this is something youve been actively doing and are doing still. You dont eat
meat by choice like..you breath, you go places and you dont eat meat. The following example
takes this to the extreme.

Ich habe seit einer Woche nicht geraucht.


I havent smoked for a week.

Ich rauche seit einer Woche nicht mehr.

I am not smoking since a week (lit.).

I have stopped smoking a week ago.

Now, here we have a clear difference in meaning but for the most verbs, the difference between
past and present is but a nuance, so dont think too hard. Alright, quick recap Seit is used
for stuff you started in the past, and you still do it now.
ab (pron.: up)
Ab is the equivalent of seit for the future. If you are going to start doing something at some point
and you either dont know or dont care when it is going to end, then use ab.

Ich bin ab Montag in Rom.


I will be in Rome from next Monday.

Wow the German example is actually shorter than the English one. This is a perfect example
for the lazy ass time indications in German. There are just soooo many assumptions being made
in the example like.. which Monday? Are you there or will you be there?
Still, it is 100% clear to a native because ab has a clear cut concept. Here is another example.

Ab morgen habe ich mehr Zeit.


I will have more time starting tomorrow.

Now, there is a big difference to seit in that ab can only be used with points of time and NOT
with spans.

Ich bin ab 3 Wochen in Rom is wrong

This doesnt mean anything because ab cant be used with a measure. If you want to use a
measure with ab, you have to do 2 steps lets say our time span is 3 weeks. First, use this to
point to some point in the future. The preposition for that is one weve already learned: in so
this would be in 3 Wochen. Now, this block is a point in time and we can put our ab in front o
fit. ab in 3 Wochen.

Ich bin ab in 3 Wochen in Rom.


I will be in Rome starting 3 weeks from now.

While not being the prettiest sentence to utter, people do talk that way at times. Now is this also
correct?

Ab vor 3 Wochen habe ich nicht geraucht.

No, its not.. because ab is only for the future and now and the word for the past is seit. Before
we move on, here is one last example. Do you know these kind of little games like Who talks
first is stupid or Who laughs first secretly eats boogers.? We played those a lot at univers
uh elementary, yeah at elementary school so if you want to start a competition like that, here
are the words:

Wer als erstes lacht, ist doof ab jetzt!


Who laughs first is stupid.. starting now!

bis (pron.: bis)


The concept of bis is the opposite of seit and ab. Bis is used to indicate the end of an action or
state without saying anything about the beginning. It is used for past, present and future and you
already know it from the various good bye phrases like Bis bald, bis morgen or bis dann.

Ich war bis um 10 auf Arbeit.


I was at work till 10.

Ich bin bis um 10 auf Arbeit.

I am at work till 10 (lit.).

I will be at work till 10.

Ich bin immer bis um 10 auf Arbeit.

Im always at work till 10.

Hast du deine Hausaufgaben gemacht?


Bis jetzt nicht.

Have you done your homework?


Not until now/ Not yet.

Bis also only works with points in time.

Ich bin bis 2 Wochen in Paris is wrong

If you want to use a time span in your phrase, you have to do the same as we already did for
ab indicate a point in time using the span and vor or in respectively. Then put bis in front of
the whole thing.

Bis vor 3 Wochen hatte nie ein Wort Deutsch gelernt und jetzt spreche ich fliessend.
I hadnt learned one word of German until 3 weeks ago and now I am fluent.

You can see that English uses the same mechanics you need 2 prepositions to make it work,
until and ago but in German, the prepositions are right next to one another so this might make it
look odd to some of you. Anyway, people do talk that way and they even use it to say good bye

Bis in 3 Tagen.
Until in 3 days.(lit.)

See you in 3 days.

And speaking of good bye and see you in 3 days.. I think we will make a break here. There are
some more things to know, namely the teams vor-nach and von-bis and the word her. If we did
all that now, this would be by FAR the longest post evuhhhh and it would be way beyond the 5
minutes internet attention span whats that? We have already exceeded that span a good deal? I
totally didnt realize I mean, I only visited like 124 145 different websites while writing this..
not so much after; all.
Anyways the prepositions we learned today are the most important ones anyway. Here they
are again with the question they are answering.

vor (span) How much time ago did something happen?


in (span) In how much time is something going to happen? and How much time did it
take for something to happen?

seit (point/ span) For how much time has something been happening? Since when has
something been happening?

ab (point ) From what point in time onwards will something be happening?

bis (point) Until which point in time has something been happening?

If you want to train them, here is an exercise for you. just cover the solutions and try to figure
it out.
Time prepositions exercise
As always, if you have any question or suggestions, leave me a comment. I hope you liked it and
see you next time which according to some is also, what she said.

Leave a comment

Learning German: How to Use Prepositions


written by: allychevalier edited by: Tricia Goss updated: 1/5/2012
Learn basic German prepositions and how to use them in the accusative, dative and genitive case, as well as "two
way" situations. Also includes notes on idiom and translation of German prepositions.

Case By Case
As beginning students of German quickly become aware of, the German language features many cases", each and
every single one having its own unique headaches. In German, certain prepositions take certain cases. When one
says to take the case of", it means that the following noun object (and any associated articles and adjectives) will be
declined in that case.
Be careful not to mix up independent prepositions with in/separable verbs with preposition prefixes. There is a fine
line between the two structurally, but one that can mean something completely different if you stray on the wrong
side.
For the most part, German preposition usage follows the same word order as in English; it is noted in this article
where this is otherwise.
Bear in mind that these translations are only approximate: while following these translations will get you more-or-less
understood, there are a few finer points of meaning that can be missed. The same English preposition may take on a
myriad of meanings depending on the context, and it's often the same with German prepositions. Many English
phrases that use prepositions are replaced by entirely different structures in German take the example of
auswendig", translating to by heart". The reverse is also true. In fact, good use of idiomatic preposition usage is
often considered a mark of true fluency. Seeing that there are far too many of these to possibly list in any article, it is
advisable that if you have a question with regards to a translation that you ask a native, or failing that, looking it up in
an online dictionary that translates idiomatic phrases. (I would personally recommend wordreference.com.)

Accusative Case Prepositions


These basic prepositions always take the accusative case, no matter the situation.
bis until, up to, no later than*
durch through, caused by
entlang along, down*
fr for
gegen against
ohne without
um around
* entlang" is a bit tricky: it is placed after the object that it modifies, not before the object as with these other
prepositions. For example, Sie rennt die Strasse entlang", translating as She runs down the street."

Dative Case Prepositions


These prepositions will always take the dative case, no matter the situation:

aus from, out of


ausser except for, besides
bei at, in the vicinity, near*
gegenber opposite, across from**
mit with, by means of
nach after, to (geographical location)***
seit since
von from, (written) by
zu to, at (people, nongeographical location, direction, desination)****
*bei" will contract with dem" to form beim".
** gegenber" can be placed either before or after the object that it modifies.
*** nach" is usually placed after the object it modifies. It only very rarely requires an article.
**** zu" contracts with der" to form zur" and with dem" to form zum". Be careful to differentiate nach" and zu".

"Two Way" Prepositions


Here's where it gets tricky. So-called two-way" prepositions may take the accusative or the dative case, depending
on the circumstances. As a general rule, when the prepositions indicate movement of some sort, they take the
accusative case, while if they indicate location, they take the dative case. Think of accusative as being the active
one. Here are the changeable-case prepositions:
an at, right by, next to*
auf on, upon
hinter behind
in into**
neben beside, next to
ber over, above; about
unter under
vor before, in front of, ago (time)
zwischen between
* an" contracts with dem" to form am".
** in" contracts with das" to form ins", and with dem" to form im".

Genitive Case Prepositions


These prepositions will similarly always take the genitive case.
(an)statt instead of*
ausserhalb outside of

innerhalb inside of
in der Nhe near
trotz despite*
whrend during*
wegen because of*
*In informal spoken German, these prepositions will commonly take the dative case.
Compass directions also take the genitive case:
nrdlich north of
stlich east of
sdlich south of
westlich west of

German Prepositions

Definition: Prepositions define relationships between words in the sentence. The case of the object is determined
by the preposition, or by the preposition and how it is used. Certain prepositions have objects in only one case;
accusative, dative, or even genitive. Other prepositions can have objects in either accusative or dative case.
Examples in German:
Vienna is not in Switzerland.
Wien ist nicht in der Schweiz.
The train arrives at 11:30.
Der Zug kommt um elf Uhr dreiig.
This is a hot coffee without sugar.
Das ist ein heier Kaffee ohne Zucker.
Accusative/Dative Case:
at, to
on
behind
in, (into)
beside
above, over
under

an
auf
hinter
in
neben
ber
unter

before
between

vor
zwischen

Examples in German:
Ich sitze in einem groen Zimmer.
Ich trete in ein groes Zimmer hinein.
Er steht zwischen dem Studenten und dem Professoren.
Sie schleicht zwischen den Studenten und den Professoren.
Accusative Case:
until
through
along
for
against
without
at, around
against

bis
durch
entlang
fr
gegen
ohne
um
wider

Examples in German:
Wir trennen uns jetzt bis Freitag. (until)
Wir fahren nur bis Leipzig zusammen. (to)
Gegen Frhling wird es allmhlich wrmer. (toward)

Read More:
Preposition with Genetive Case

Prepositions and the Cases


German prepositions break down into four groups. Some of them use the accusative and some
use the dative or genitive case. On top of this, there are also some that can be either accusative
or dative, depending on the context of the sentence.
In this blog well be looking at the ones that can be either accusative or dative. For more
information on prepositions that are strictly accusative take a look at our German Accusative
Prepositions Blog and for more info on the dative ones read our German Dative Prepositions
Blog.

Two-Way Prepositions
Lets look at the nine little beauties that can be either accusative or dative:
Two-Way Prepositions in the Accusative Case
Preposition
an (at, on top of)
auf (on, onto, to)
hinter (behind)
in (in, into, to)
neben (next to, beside)
ber (above, over)
unter (under, underneath)
vor (in front of)
zwischen (between)

Masculine
an den
auf den
hintern
in den
neben den
bern
untern
vor den
zwischen den

Feminine
an die
auf die
hinter die
in die
neben die
ber die
unter die
von die
zwischen die

Neuter
ans
aufs
hinters
ins
neben das
bers
unters
vors
zwischen das

Feminine
an der
auf der
hinter der
in der
neben der
ber der
unter der
vor der
zwischen der

Neuter
am
auf dem
hinterm
im
neben dem
berm
unterm
vorm
zwischen dem

Two-Way Prepositions in the Dative Case


Preposition
Masculine
an (at, on top of)
am
auf (on, onto, to)
auf dem
hinter (behind)
hinterm
in (in, into, to)
im
neben (next to, beside)
neben dem
ber (above, over)
berm
unter (under, underneath)
unterm
vor (in front of)
vorm
zwischen (between)
zwischen dem

After a few German two-way prepositions, a shortened form of the definite article can be merged
with the preposition to make one word.
an + das = ans
an + dem = am
auf + das = aufs
in + das = ins
in + dem = im
Some other forms that arent as frequently used are hintern, hinterm, hinters, bern, berm,
bers, untern, unterm, unters, vorm and vors.

When to use Accusative or Dative?


One of the first issues you will encounter when learning these prepositions is:
When should I use accusative and when should I use the dative case?
Which case to use depends on the meaning. Here is a quick overview:

Prepositions in the accusative case describe movement or show a change of location.


These prepositions can answer questions that start with: Where to?
For example:
Sie wollen auf die Party. (They want to go to the party.) Where do they want to go to?

Prepositions in the dative case describe positions or refer to a static location. These
prepositions can answer questions that start with: Where?
For example:
Deine Tasche liegt auf dem Tisch. (The bag is on the table.) Where is the bag?

Tip
If you arent quite confident with the prepositions and their shortened forms, stick to the
long form, for example hinter dem or ber das instead of hinterm and bers. Its only the
most frequently used ones that you should remember as they are quite commonly used.

German Prepositions
Learn all about German prepositions in this easy-to-follow free online lesson. You will find a list
of prepositions used in everyday German together with lots of examples and explanations.
Essential reading for anyone learning German.

German Prepositions
First of all, in case you are wondering:
'What is a preposition?'

Quite simply, a preposition is a word which describes a relationship between a noun or a pronoun
and another element of a sentence. Let's take a look at a few examples in English before we get
started.
I will highlight all prepositions in blue for better understanding.
On the phone
By the phone
Behind the phone
Inside the phone
Below the phone

Easy, right?
Well, maybe in English. German prepositions, however, are more difficult to learn because of
those pesky German cases. Confused, don't be! All will become clear very soon.

By the way, in my efforts to best help you speak German


easily and effortlessly, I've teamed up with the Rocket
German Learning System.
You can click here to learn more about their program and
how they can be of service to you.
It's an interesting system for learning German in that the
focus is to help you engage in meaningful conversation
within a short period of time.

So what have the cases got to do with the German prepositions?

Actually, quite a lot! In German, the case of a pronoun and noun is determined by the preposition
it occurs with. To confuse matters, some prepositions take just one case, others can take two
depending on the sentence.
Why is it so important to learn which case a German preposition takes?
Quite simply, because the case will decide how the nouns following the preposition are 'declined'
(i.e. formed).
The following three tables will list:

1. German prepositions which only take the accusative case

2. German prepositions which only take the dative case

3. German prepositions which can take both the accusative and dative cases

N.B It is easier to learn those prepositions which take just one case to begin with.

1. German prepositions which only take the accusative case


The first table listed here shows the prepositions which will only ever take the accusative case,
i.e. they will take an object in the accusative case, and thus follow the grammatical rules of this
case. (For more information about the accusative case, please click here.) For clarity's sake, the
object taking the accusative case will be highlighted in blue.

Preposition

In English

Example

Example in English

bis

until / to / by

Bis nchsten Freitag muss die


Arbeit fertig sein

The work has to be completed


by next Friday

durch

through / by

Ich habe durch die Nacht


gearbeitet

I worked through the night

entlang

along / down

Ich fahre die Strae entlang

I drive down the street

fr

for

Wir tun alles fr ihn

We do everything for him

gegen

about / against /
contrary to

Gegen den Wind

Against the wind

ohne

without

Ohne meine Tasche kann ich


nicht einkaufen gehen

I cannot go shopping without


my bag

um

around / at

Um die Ecke ist mein Haus

My house is around the corner

wider

against

Wider meine Beratung hat er das He bought it against my


gekauft
advice

2. German prepositions which only take the dative case


The table here shows the prepositions which will only ever take the dative case, i.e. they will
take an object in the dative case and thus follow the grammatical rules of this case. (For more
about the dative case, please click here.) For clarity's sake, the object taking the dative case will
be highlighted in blue.

Preposition

In English

Example

Example in English

Ab nchster Woche bin ich wieder I will be available again


zu erreichen
from next week

ab

from

aus

Aus Sicherheitsgrnden bitten wir Due to security reasons we


due to / from /out
Sie, Ihr Gepck nicht
ask you not to leave your
of
unbeaufsichtigt zu lassen
luggage unattended

auer

apart from / except Auer meiner Mutter war niemand There was no-one there
for / besides
da
apart from my mother

bei

at / near / next to

dank

thanks to / due to / Dank meinem Bruder kann ich mir Thanks to my brother I can
owing to
das Buch leisten
afford the book

entgegen

contrary to /
against

Entgegen aller Erwartungen habe Contrary to all expectations


ich gewonnen
I won

entsprechend

according to /
corresponding to

Den Erwartungen entsprechend

According to expectations

gegenber

opposite (to)/
across from /

Gegenber dem Krankenhaus


finden Sie viele Geschfte

You will find lots of shops


opposite the hospital

gem

according to /
According to the law he is
Gem dem Gesetz ist er schuldig
under the terms of
guilty

Er wohnt bei seinem Vater

He lives at his father's

mit

with / by

Ich gehe morgen mit meiner


Familie in die Stadt

I am going into town


tomorrow with my family

nach

to / after

Nach dem ersten Weltkrieg

After the first world war

samt

including /
together with

Samt seinem Sohn geht er zum


Zoo

He is going to the zoo


together with his son

seit

since / for

Seit einem Jahr lerne ich Deutsch

I have been learning


German for a year

von

by / from / of

Wir haben es von den Nachbarn


gehrt

We heard it from the


neighbours

zu

at / to

Morgen fahren wir zu meiner


Schwester

We are driving to my sister


tomorrow

zufolge*

according to

Einem Gerucht zufolge will er in Rumour has it he wants to


Rente gehen
retire

*The preposition 'zufolge' is sometimes, although less often, also found in the genitive case
where it is positioned before the noun. Used most often in Swiss German and legal documents.
3. German prepositions which take both the accusative and dative cases
Before we take a look at these prepositions, you need to know how to determine if the
preposition takes the accusative or dative case.
It can be determined, quite simply, by asking either wo? (where?) or wohin? (where to?).
When describing a movement to a certain place (where to?), the preposition will always occur in
the accusative case and, therefore, decline the noun in the accusative case.
Examples:
1. Ich fahre in die Stadt (I am driving into town). Where am I driving to? To town. 'In' is,
therefore, found here in the accusative case.
However, when there is no movement involved and a fixed place is being talked about (where?),
then the dative case is used.
2. Ich wohne in der Stadt (I live in the town). Where do I live? In the town. 'In' is, therefore, here
in the dative case.
(By the way, the dative case, is also always used after the question, woher? - where from?)

Let's now take a look at the following table which details prepositions using both the accusative
and dative case.

Preposition In English Accusative Example

In English

Dative
Example

The application
Die Bewerbung soll an
should be sent to Ich bin an der
die Personalabteilung
the personnel
Ampel
geschickt werden
department

In English
I am at the
traffic lights

an

to / in / at

auf

I am putting the
upon / on / Ich stelle die Teller auf
Wir sitzen auf We are sitting
plates on the
at / to
den Tisch
einer Bank
on a bench
table
I am going
behind the
curtain

The vacuum
Hinter dem
cleaner is
Vorhang ist der
behind the
Staubsauger
curtain

hinter

behind

Ich gehe hinter den


Vorhang

in

into / in /at

We are driving
Morgen fahren wir in
into town
die Stadt
tomorrow

neben

next to /
Kannst Du bitte den
Can you please Der Tisch steht The table is
near /
Tisch neben die Wand put the table
schon neben
already next to
beside /
stellen?
next to the wall? der Wand
the wall
adjacent to

ber

over /
across /
above /
about

unter

under /
among /
beneath

vor

Can you please


We are waiting
in front of / Stellst du die Eier bitte put the eggs in Wir warten vor
in front of the
before
vor die Tr?
front of the
dem Parkhaus
car park
door?

zwischen

Ich habe den Ball


I threw the ball Ich stehe
between /
zwischen seine Beine between his
zwischen den
in between
geworfen!
legs!
zwei Autos

Wir fahren ber einen We are driving


Hgel
over a hill

Ich fahre unter die


Brcke

Wir kaufen in
der Stadt ein

ber dem
Regenbogen

We are
shopping in
town

Over the
rainbow

The dog is
I am driving
Der Hund liegt laying
under the bridge unter dem Tisch underneath the
table

I am standing
between the
two cars

Tip: Prepositions are much more common in the accusative and dative case than in the genitive
case - so remember this next time when you have forgotten which case a preposition takes.
Genitive Case prepositions coming soon...

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German has dative, accusative, genitive and two-way prepositions and postpositions.
Each preposition causes the adverbial expression on which it acts to take the case of the
preposition. Two-way prepositions cause the adverbial expression to take the accusative case if
the verb is transitive, and the dative case if the verb is intransitive.
Several German prepositions
Accusative

Dative

Genitive

two-way

bis

aus

whrend

an

durch

auer

trotz

auf

entlang

bei

statt, anstatt hinter

fr

mit

wegen

in

gegen

nach

innerhalb

neben

ohne

seit

auerhalb

ber

um

von

jenseits

unter

wider

zu

diesseits

vor

gegenber

zwischen

ab
Notes:
Gegenber is one of the rare postpositions which typically follows the object it modifies.
Er stand mir gegenber.
Mir gegenber steht Auenminister Fischer.

However:
Gegenber von Ihnen befindet sich das Stadtmuseum.

Nach is also sometimes used as a postposition, when its meaning is "according to". The two
phrases are equivalent:
Nach dem Pfarrer sei Gott gut.
Dem Pfarrer nach sei Gott gut.

In spoken language, the genitive with prepositions is nowadays often replaced by the dative. But
it is important to notice that this replacement is still just colloquial language, e.g.:
Written: Whrend des Essens wollen wir nicht gestrt werden.
Spoken: Whrend dem Essen wollen wir nicht gestrt werden.

Two way Prepositions (Wechselprpositionen)


The case with two way prepositions should be determined with questions like wo? (where?),
wann? (when?), wohin? (where does it go to?) and wie? (how?).
Two-way prepositions
Prepositions

Wo? Wann?

Wohin?

Wie?

an, hinter, in, neben, ber, unter, vor, zwischen Dative

Accusative Dative

auf

Accusative Accusative

Dative

Short notation
Some combinations of articles and prepositions are usually combined:
Short notation
Preposition + Article Short notation

an + das

ans

an + dem

am

auf + das

aufs

bei + dem

beim

in + das

ins

in + dem

im

von + dem

vom

vor + dem

vorm

zu + dem

zum

zu + der

zur

In all other cases the preposition and articles have to be written separately.

Verbs with prepositions


Several verbs are used with a specific preposition and case:
Verb

Preposition

Case

denken

an

accusative

sich erinnern

an

accusative

sich gewhnen

an

accusative

glauben

an

accusative

arbeiten

an

dative

erkranken

an

dative

hngen

an

dative

teilnehmen

an

dative

sich freuen

auf

accusative

schimpfen

auf

accusative

sich verlassen

auf

accusative

verzichten

auf

accusative

vorbereiten

auf

accusative

warten

auf

accusative

basieren

auf

dative

beharren

auf

dative

Verb

Preposition

Case

beruhen

auf

dative

bestehen

auf

dative

sich bedanken

bei

dative

sich beschweren

bei

dative

bleiben

bei

dative

sich entschuldigen bei

dative

sich bedanken

fr

accusative

sich interessieren

fr

accusative

sorgen

fr

accusative

sprechen

fr

accusative

protestieren

gegen

accusative

stimmen

gegen

accusative

verstoen

gegen

accusative

sich wehren

gegen

accusative

geraten

in

accusative

einwilligen

in

accusative

teilen

in

accusative

sich verlieben

in

accusative

sich irren

in

dative

sich tuschen

in

dative

sich ben

in

dative

unterrichten

in

dative

anfangen

mit

dative

sich begngen

mit

dative

sich beschftigen

mit

dative

rechnen

mit

dative

fragen

nach

dative

riechen

nach

dative

schmecken

nach

dative

sich sehnen

nach

dative

sich bemhen

um

accusative

Verb

Preposition

Case

beneiden

um

accusative

bitten

um

accusative

sich handeln

um

accusative

sich kmmern

um

accusative

sich rgern

ber

accusative

sich beklagen

ber

accusative

diskutieren

ber

accusative

erschrecken

ber

accusative

sich freuen

ber

accusative

schimpfen

ber

accusative

abhngen

von

dative

trumen

von

dative

schwrmen

von

dative

sich frchten

vor

dative

flchten

vor

dative

schtzen

vor

dative

warnen

vor

dative

sich entschlieen

zu

dative

gehren

zu

dative

neigen

zu

dative

zhlen

zu

dative

Introduction
Prepositions are small words (an, in, zu) that typically come before a noun.
Even advanced learners often have problems with prepositions, because you cant translate them
1:1. Usually there arent any rules for the usage of each preposition. The only solution is to look
them up in a dictionary, read a lot in German, and learn important prepositional phrases by heart.

Frh am Samstagmorgen fhrt Paula mit dem Fahrrad ber den Berg zum Haus ihrer Oma. Das
macht sie schon seit vielen Jahren an den Wochenenden so. Sie bleibt bis Sonntag bei ihrer Oma
und fhrt am Nachmittag wieder zurck, damit sie vor 18 Uhr zum Abendessen wieder zu Hause
ist.
Manchmal besucht Paula ihre Oma auch zu Fu. Bei schlechtem Wetter fhrt sie mit dem Bus.

Important Prepositions
In the following tables, weve summarised some rules for commonly-used prepositions in
German.

Prepositions of Place (locative)


Prepositions of place correspond to the questions Where/Where to/Where from? Some
typical prepositions in this group include:
German
an

English
on/at
at/by
on

auf

in

at
onto
aus
from
auerhalb outside
bei
at/with

Usage
attached to
in the sense of in front of,
next to, near
on a surface
on a side
the world
a picture
an event
work
the station
onto something
origin
outside (of) + noun
at a place/with somebody

Example
Das Bild hngt an der Wand.
Jemand steht an der Tr.
Der Apfel liegt auf dem Tisch.
Das Kino befindet sich auf der linken
Seite.
Du bist der netteste Mensch auf der
Welt.
Auf dem Bild sind meine Eltern.
Wir waren gestern auf einem Konzert.
Er ist noch auf der Arbeit.
Bist du auf dem Bahnhof?
Die Katze springt auf den Tisch.
Jan kommt aus Hamburg.
Sie lebt auerhalb der Stadt.
Ich wohne noch bei meinen Eltern.

German
durch

English

through/across to cross something

gegenber opposite
hinter

behind
in/on

in

nach
neben
ber

in
in/at
on
into
to
next to
across
above
under

unter
below
vor

Usage

in front of
to

zu
towards
zwischen between

on the otherside/facing
something
at the back of something

Example
Wir fuhren durch den Tunnel. Sie
schwammen durch den Fluss.
Sie wohnt gleich gegenber.

Der Besen steht hinter der Tr.


Er wohnt in Berlin, in der
address (country, city, street)
Mozartstrae.
newspaper, book
Das habe ich in der Zeitung gelesen.
a room (also a vehicle)
Das Gepck ist schon im Auto.
within a defined space
Die Kinder sind in der Schule.
T.V./radio
Im Fernsehen luft ein Krimi.
into a room
Ich bringe die Teller in die Kche.
to a place or country
Wir fahren nach Berlin/Deutschland.
beside
Der Besen steht neben dir.
to cross something
Ich gehe ber die Strae/Brcke.
above something but not on it Das Flugzeug fliegt ber den Wolken.
under something, on the
Deine Tasche liegt unter dem Tisch.
floor/ground
under something, but above the Unter der Wasseroberflche
floor/ground
schwimmen viele Fische.
Die Strassenbahnhaltestelle ist direkt
directly ahead of something
vor dem Museum.
to a person (and/or their home) Die Kinder fahren zur Oma.
Der Junge geht zur Schule/zur
to a building/business
Post/zum Bcker.
in the direction of someplace,
Gehe 5 Schritte zum Haus.
but not all the way there
Der Zug hlt nicht zwischen Frankfurt
between two things or places
und Darmstadt.

Prepositions of Time (temporal)


Prepositions of time correspond to the questions When/how long? Some important
prepositions in this group are:
German

English

Usage
Example
the time or date something
ab
from/as of
Ab morgen bin ich im Urlaub.
begins
on
weekdays
Wir fahren am Montag in den Urlaub.
an
in
time of day
Am Abend gehen wir ins Kino.
at
the weekend
Am Wochenende faulenze ich am liebsten.
auerhalb outside
outside of/out of/apart
Sie rufen auerhalb der Sprechzeiten an.

German

bis

in
nach
seit

um
vonbis
(zu)
vor
whrend

English
Usage
of/out of
from + noun
apart from

Example

Ich werde das Buch bis morgen gelesen


haben.
till/until
up to a certain point
Das Museum ist bis 18 Uhr geffnet.
months/seasons
Im Mai/Frhling ist das Wetter schn.
in
at/after a certain time
In einer Stunde ruft Sabine an.
at
in the sense of at night In der Nacht ist es dunkel.
past
with specific times
Es ist fnf nach zehn. (10:05)
from a certain point in
since
Wir wohnen hier seit 2010.
time until now
for a certain time period,
for
Wir wohnen hier seit zwei Jahren.
until now
at a specific time (usually
at
Wir treffen uns um acht vor dem Kino.
with exact hours)
Unsere Bros sind wegen
from to marker of time
Renovierungsarbeiten vom 10.3 bis zum 28.3
geschlossen.
to
to say the time
Es ist fnf vor zehn. (09:55)
before
before a certain time
Vor 18 Uhr werde ich nicht zu Hause sein.
ago
measurement of past time Wir haben uns vor 2 Jahren kennengelernt.
Whrend meiner Reise habe ich viele Bilder
during
a period of time
gemacht.
by

by a certain time

To Note
There is no preposition directly before a year in German.
Example:
Die Berliner Mauer fiel 1989./Die Berliner Mauer fiel im Jahr 1989.
(not: Die Berliner Mauer fiel in 1989.)
However, you often encounter a preposition before the year when youre listening to or reading
German. This is an anglicism and is officially considered incorrect in German (at least for now).

Other Important Prepositions


German English
Usage
auf
in
with languages
auer
except excluding
by
using a mode of transportation
mit
at
with ages

Example
Kannst du das auf Deutsch sagen?
Ich mag alle Mitschler auer Martin.
Wir sind mit dem Zug/Fahrrad gekommen.
Sie hat mit 30 Jahren Deutsch gelernt.

German English
Usage
Example
ber
about a topic
Wir unterhielten uns ber das Buch.
from
giver/presenter
Das Geschenk ist von Gabi.
von
by
creator (author, painter, etc.)
Das Gedicht ist von Friedrich Schiller.
zu
on
on foot (idiomatic construction) Wir sind zu Fu unterwegs.

Summary Chart
Diagnostic Exercises (check if
you've mastered this topic!)
These exercises cover:
Prepositions
Strong Verb/Weak Verb
Pairs (stehen/stellen
etc.)

Prepositional Verbs

You will be asked 20


questions. IF YOU GET A
QUESTION WRONG, KEEP
TRYING UNTIL YOU GET IT
RIGHT. THE PROGRAM WILL
ONLY CALCULATE YOUR
SCORE IF YOU HAVE
ANSWERED ALL THE
QUESTIONS. Incorrect
guesses will reduce your
score. When you are
finished, click "Submit" if
you are satisfied with your
score. Remember you need
a score of at least 80% in
order to get a "check" for
this assignment.

Usage Notes: Two-Way


Prepositions

Practice Exercises

Usage Notes: How to say where


you are going (an, auf, in, nach,
zu)

Usage Notes: How to say where Other Usage Notes and


you are (an, auf, bei, in, zu etc.) Examples
Strong Verb/Weak Verb Pairs

Prepositional Verbs

(stehen/stellen etc.) [Test


questions on prepositions will
often involve these verbs!]
More Useful Prepositions (These will not be explicitly tested in
101-231, but are very good to know, especially for listening and
reading! )

Summary Chart
Note: As in English, the meanings of the prepositions in German are quite flexible, and very
important to know, since these little words come up all the time. As a result, it is difficult to
give English equivalents for a list like this. The compromise used below is to give their
primary meanings, and to write "etc." where other meanings occur particularly often. Try
the second of the "Practice Exercises" on this page (Wie sagt man...?) in order to get a feel
for how these prepositions can be used in various contexts.
Mnemonic advice: To remember the accusative prepositions, use the acronym "O Fudge"
[ohne, fr, um, durch, gegen], or ask your instructor about chanting "Durch-fr-gegenohne-um, Deutsch zu lernen ist nicht dumm." For the dative prepositions, sing "Aus-auerbei-mit, nach-seit, von-zu" to the tune of the "Blue Danube" waltz, or think of the touching
love poem "Roses are red, violets are blue, aus-auer-bei-mit, nach-seit, von-zu." For the
two-way prepositions, sing "An, auf, hin-ter, ne-ben, un-ter/-ber, in, vor, zwi-i-schen" to
the tune of the "An die Freude" ["Ode to Joy"] chorus from Beethoven's 9th symphony.
Contractions: common contractions of the prepositions with forms of der/das/die are
included in the table below; where the contraction is in bold print, it is generally (though
not always) preferable to the two-word form in speaking and writing; contractions not listed
in bold print below are heard often in informal spoken German, but are less common in
writing. Other contractions (e.g. "neben + das = nebens") are possible, but only the more
commonly used ones are listed below.
Accusative Prepositions
Nouns and pronouns following these prepositions will always be
in the Accusative
bis

as far as, up to, until

durch (durch + das = durchs)

through, by means of, etc.

fr (fr + das = frs)

for

gegen

against, etc.

ohne

without

um (um + das = ums)

around, at [time], etc.

Dative Prepositions
Nouns and pronouns following these prepositions will always be
in the Dative
aus

out of

auer

except for, etc.

bei (bei + dem = beim)

at, etc.

gegenber

opposite, across from; in relation to

mit

with

nach

to, after, according to

seit

[time only:] since, for

von (von + dem = vom)

from, etc.

zu (zu + dem = zum; zu + der =


zur)

to, etc.

Two-Way Prepositions
Nouns and pronouns following these prepositions will either be
in the Accusative (<==> Motion) or the Dative (<==>
Location)--more details below
an (an + das = ans; an + dem =
am)

at, to [vertical boundaries], etc.

auf (auf + das = aufs)

on, etc.

entlang

along

hinter (hinter + das = hinters;


hinter + dem = hinterm)

behind

in (in + das = ins; in + dem = im) in, to, into, etc.


neben

beside, besides

ber (ber + das = bers; ber +


dem = berm)

over, above, about [topic], etc.

unter (unter + das = unters; unter


+ dem = unterm)

under, among, etc.

vor (vor + das = vors; vor + dem =


in front of, ago, etc.
vorm)
zwischen

between

Genitive Prepositions
Nouns and pronouns following these prepositions will generally
be in the Genitive in more formal speaking and writing, but are
increasingly often in the Dative in less formal speaking and
writing.
(an)statt

instead of

trotz

despite

whrend

during

wegen

because of

auer-/inner-/ober-/unterhalb
[must use Genitive with these:
cannot use Dative]

outside of/inside of/above/below

diesseits/jenseits/beiderseits [must
use Genitive with these: cannot
on this/the other/both side(s) of
use Dative]

bungen

Accusative, Dative, Two-Way or Genitive? This exercise just asks you to choose the
appropriate case for each preposition.

Wie sagt man...? This exercise will help you practice the range of meanings of the
prepositions.

Motion or Location? This exercise will help you decide whether sentences involving
two-way prepositions describe motion or the location of the action.

Wo/Wohin? Practice choosing the right preposition to say where you are and where
you're going, and also practice using the appropriate cases with these prepositions.

Die Katze und die Maus Practice deciding whether to use dative or accusative with
the two-way prepositions in this story about the value of knowing a foreign
language :) Note that there are a number of "trick questions" in this exercise to
make it more realistic: some of the questions involve dative prepositions or
accusative prepositions, for whom the motion/location distinction is irrelevant, and a
couple of them involve prepositional verbs and adjectives.

Filmtitel mit Prpositionen A translation exercise (first half German-English, second


half English-German) involving prepositions. We normally encourage you to think in
German and avoid trying to translate literally from the English, but playing with
movie titles is fun, so here's an exception.

Liedtexte [Song Lyrics] Another translation exercise involving prepositions. And for
fun, click on "weiter" at the top after you finish this exercise to see if you can figure
out who sang these songs :) Again, we normally encourage you to think in German
and avoid trying to translate literally from the English, but playing with song lyrics is
fun--especially because of how silly the literal translations often sound :)

Nach fnf im Urwald This exercise is excellent cumulative practice if you've seen this
movie. If you're a University of Michigan student, you will see this movie in German
221/231, or you can watch it in the Language Resource Center. It's always very
popular at our 221/231 movie screenings, so you'll probably enjoy it :)

For more practice, please refer to the exercises on prepositions on the "Case Overview"
page!
Exercises involving Strong Verb/Weak Verb Pairs (stehen/stellen etc.)

Das chaotische Zimmer This is a series of four exercises designed to help you figure
out which verb to use, practice the forms of the verbs, figure out which cases to use
with the nouns, and finally put together sentences using these verbs. Please use the
"weiter" button to navigate between these four exercises.

Exercises involving prepositional verbs and adjectives.

Was bedeutet...? Match the prepositional verbs with their English equivalents.
Welche Prposition? Match the statements with the appropriate preposition.

Lola und die Prpositionen If you've seen Lola rennt (Run Lola Run), try this to
practice prepositions and prepositional verbs.

Die groe Liebe Practice prepositional adjectives by first matching the prepositional
adjectives with their English equivalents, and then choosing the correct prepositions
to complete a series of romantic statements.

bungen auf anderen Webseiten

Preposition jamboree (acc. only, dat. only, AC-DC)


Preposition Quiz

Reflexivverben mit Prpositionalobjekten Wir haben reflexive Verben noch nicht


wiederholt, also [=thus] ist das eine Vorschau [=preview]. Wissen Sie, welche
Prpositionen bei diese reflexiven Verben passen?

Zurck nach oben

Usage Notes: Two-Way Prepositions


nouns following the two-way prepositions (in, auf, unter, ber,

vor, hinter, neben, zwischen, an, entlang...) are


accusative: MOTION--if the verb is describing a change of
location: where someone or something is going or being put.
dative: LOCATION--if the verb is describing where something
is located or where an action is taking place

this can be summarized by the nonsense mnemonic:


"Accusative-Cruisative; Dative-Stative"

Remember the above rule applies ONLY to the two-way

prepositions. Nouns following dative prepositions will be dative even if


motion is involved (e.g. "Sie geht zum [=zu dem] Arzt" and "Ich
komme von der rztin"!), and nouns following accusative prepositions
will be accusative even if no motion is involved ("Ich singe ein Lied fr
dich").
When two-way prepositions are used in combination with
prepositional verbs, they lose their spatial meaning, and so the
motion/location distinction no longer makes sense. Instead, you need to
learn individually for each prepositional verb whether it is followed by
nouns or pronouns in the accusative or in the dative. Refer to the page
on prepositional verbs for more information.
[Some VERY rough guidelines for prepositional verbs with
2-way prepositions: (1) When ber means "about," it is
followed by the Accusative: wir sprechen/schreiben/lachen ber
dich; (2) if in doubt, use the Accusative with these; (3) the
most important of the many exceptions to (2): Angst haben
vor, arbeiten an, and warnen vor are all used with the Dative]
Here are some examples, with explanations for the choice of case:
Die Studenten sitzen in der Klasse.

Location (where are the students


sitting? In the class) ==> Dative.

Motion (where are the students


Die Studenten gehen in die Klasse. going? Into the class) ==>
Accusative.

Wir essen in der Mensa.

Location (where are we eating? In


the cafeteria) ==> Dative.

Wir essen in die Mensa.

Using the accusative would imply


that we are eating our way into the
cafeteria, as if there were e.g. a
huge wall of Sauerbraten blocking
our way into the cafeteria (though
you would actually have to say "Wir
essen uns in die Mensa durch.")

Der Terminator kommt mit einem


Maschinengewehr an meine Tr.

Motion (The Terminator is coming


to my door) ==> Accusative.

Der Terminator steht mit einem


Maschinengewehr an meiner Tr.

Location (The Terminator is


standing at my door) ==> Dative.

Google sieht in unsere Herzen.

Google (which is all-knowing) sees


into our hearts ==> accusative.

Google sieht in unseren Herzen.

Using the dative in this case would


imply that Google is located inside
our hearts (and there it is seeing
some things), which we can only
hope doesn't make sense.

Google sieht die Liebe in unseren


Herzen.

Here the dative is appropriate:


Google is seeing the love located
in our hearts.

Ein Franzsischbuch liegt auf


meinem Schreibtisch.

A French book is lying on my desk


==> location ==> dative. Click
here for more information on strong
verb/weak verb pairs like
stehen/stellen, liegen/legen,
sitzen/setzen etc., which are
frequently used with two-way
prepositions.

Ich lege es in den Kamin


[=fireplace].

I put it into the fireplace ==>


motion ==> accusative. Click
here for more information on strong
verb/weak verb pairs like
stehen/stellen, liegen/legen,
sitzen/setzen etc., which are
frequently used with two-way
prepositions.

Das Kind springt auf das Bett.

The accusative "das Bett" means


there must be motion towards or
away from the bed ==> the child is
jumping onto the bed.

Das Kind springt auf dem Bett.

The dative "dem Bett" means the


action is located on the bed ==>
the child is jumping up and down
on the bed. Note that in this case
there is motion involved, but since
it is not motion towards or away

from the bed, the dative is used.

Justin Bieber rennt vor das


rasende [=speeding] Auto.

The accusative "das ... Auto"


means the action is taking JB in
front of the speeding car, i.e. there
is a speeding car, and JB is running
out in front of it into its way ==>
bad news for JB and the Beliebers.

Justin Bieber rennt vor dem


rasenden [=speeding] Auto.

The dative "dem ... Auto" means


the action is located in front of the
speeding car, i.e. there is a
speeding car, and JB is running
along in front of it ==> if he is
running fast enough, he will
survive.

Ich schwimme im Meer.

By using the dative I am


emphasizing the location where
my swimming is taking place: in
the sea.

Ich schwimme ins Meer.

By using the accusative I am


emphasizing where I am swimming
to: (out) into the sea.

Zurck nach oben

Wohin gehen wir?--Where are we going to?: an, auf, in, nach, zu
1. Continents, islands, countries, cities and towns:
a. Normally, use nach for these.
Wir reisen nach Europa, nach Tahiti, nach Deutschland, nach Kln
b. For countries with an article, use in.

Wir reisen in die Schweiz, in die USA, in den Irak, in die Trkei [Also: in
die Stadt]
2. Other locations:
a. Use in if you will end up inside a place or location.
Du gehst ins Kino, in die Klasse, in die Kirche, in den Zoo, in die Sauna,
in den Park, in die Stadt
b. Use auf if you will end up on something.

Ich gehe auf die Strae, du kletterst [=climb] auf den Berg, die Kuh
geht auf die Weide [=meadow], das Kind geht auf die Toilette, wir
fahren aufs Land [=countryside]
Auf is also sometimes used for going to formal events or public places.

Sie geht auf eine Party, auf eine Hochzeit [=wedding], auf einen
Empfang [=reception], auf die Post, auf den Markt [but usually: zum
Rathaus [=town hall], zur Universitt, zur Bibliothek]
c. Use an to describe motion to a precise spot, or to something that can be perceived as a
horizontal or vertical boundary (something you would stand at or by in English).

Precise spot: Er geht ans Mikrofon, an den Tatort [=scene of the crime],
an die Bushaltestelle [=bus stop], an seinen Platz, an die Kreuzung
[=intersection], an die Kasse [=cashier's desk]
Horizontal or vertical boundary: Sie geht ans Fenster, an die Tr, an die
Wand, an den Tisch ["Sie setzt sich an den Tisch"], an die Grenze
[=border], ans Meer, an die Tafel, an den Fluss, an den Rhein, an den
Strand [=beach], an den See, an den Zaun [=fence], ans Ufer
[=shore], an die Front [in war]
d. Use nach for directions (without an article), and idiomatically in nach Hause. Note: this,
and the use of nach for going to cities, countries etc. described above, are the only uses of
nach [to mean to]. Learners of German often use nach when they are not sure which
preposition is correct, but zu is a much better guess--see (e) below!

Fahren Sie nach links, nach rechts, nach Norden, nach Sden, nach
Osten, nach Westen. Gehen Sie nach oben, nach unten. Ich gehe nach
Hause.
e. If in doubt, use zu! Zu can replace in if you need not emphasize that you are going
inside, and must replace in if it would be absurd to speak of going inside--e.g. driving to a
building, visiting a person. You also need to use zu if you're going to a particular company's
locale that you're specifying with a proper name (e.g. Kroger). An exception to this latter
rule is the huge department store chain "Kaufhof," the reason being that the name contains
the word "Hof" [=yard], a space that one can go into.

Wir gehen zum/in den Bahnhof; wir fahren zum/in den Bahnhof; wir
fahren zur/in die Stadt; die Straenbahn [=tram] fhrt zum/ins
Museum; wir gehen zu/in Peter; wir gehen zur/in die Bckerei; wir
gehen zum/in den Bcker; zu/in SPAR (a supermarket chain), zum/in
den Kaufhof

Zu can also replace the use of auf for formal events and public buildings, and it can replace
the use of an generally. Thus, you can usually get by just by knowing zu, the use of nach
and in for countries, cities etc. (and of nach for directions), and the use of auf for Strae,
Land, Toilette etc.!

Replacing auf: Sie geht zu einer Party, zu einer Hochzeit [=wedding], zu


einem Empfang [=reception], zum Bahnhof, zur Post
Replacing an for precise spots: Er geht zum Mikrofon, zum Tatort
[=scene of the crime], zur Bushaltestelle [=bus stop], zu seinen Platz
Replacing an for horizontal boundaries: Sie geht zum Fenster, zur Tr,
zur Wand, zum Tisch [but: sie setzt sich an den/zum Tisch], zur
Grenze [=border]
Zurck nach oben

Wo sind wir?: an, auf, bei, in, zu etc.


1. Use in, auf and an in the same ways as described under Wohin gehen wir? above; for
exceptions, see (2) below.
Du bist im Kino, in der Klasse, in der Kirche, im Zoo, in der Sauna, im
Park, in der Stadt
Ich bin auf der Strae, auf dem Berg, auf dem Land; die Kuh ist auf
der Weide [=meadow]; das Kind ist auf der Toilette
Sie ist auf einer Party, auf einer Hochzeit [=wedding], auf einem
Empfang [=reception], auf der Post, auf dem Markt
Er ist am Mikrofon, am Tatort [=scene of the crime], an der
Bushaltestelle [=bus stop], an seinem Platz, an der Kreuzung
Sie ist am Fenster, an der Tr, an der Wand, am Tisch ["Sie sitzt am
Tisch"], an der Grenze [=border], am Meer
2a. Nach is NEVER used for saying where you are. Use in for location in continents,
countries with or without article, and cities. Use auf for location on an island.

Wir sind in Europa, auf Tahiti, in Deutschland, in Kln, auf Helgoland


[an island off Germany's northern coast]
2b. For location in public buildings, in (and occasionally an) is increasingly used instead of
auf, especially in speaking.

Wir sind in der Post, im Rathaus [=town hall], in der Bibliothek [but
usually: am Bahnhof, an der Universitt]

2c. An is used quite generally to indicate location at or near a place; bei can also be used
and is more like "in the vicinity of."

Sie ist am/beim Bahnhof, am/beim Supermarkt, an der/bei der


Bibliothek, am/beim Theater
2d. Bei is used to indicate location in or at a particular person's or company's
house/locale; it is also used to indicate one's place of work. If one is working or studying
at an academic or otherwise "high-brow" institution, one uses an.

Wir sind bei Hans, wir wohnen bei Inge, ich bin beim Aldi [name of a
discount supermarket chain], er ist beim Metzger [=butcher], du
arbeitest bei Siemens/bei der Post/bei Hoechst, sie
studiert/lehrt/arbeitet an der Universitt
e. Zu does not usually indicate location, but it used to. The most important remnant is zu
Hause, and there are others, such as "zu Tisch" [=at table].
Zurck nach oben

Other Notes and Examples


1. You should be familiar with the various common meanings of these prepositions.
Although some aspects of these meanings are reviewed here, you may want to look back at
your textbooks/notes from previous German courses to refresh your memory. It's worth it:
prepositions come up all the time, and are crucial in determining meaning! You can find
more info on some of these prepositions in the "Superwrter" pages: um and nach in SW I;
whrend and bei in SW II; zu in SW III; and unter and neben in SW V. Below are a few
more reminders.
2. Fr = for generally, but to say for how long something happens, German distinguishes
three cases:
2a. The action is completed. Just put the time period in the accusative. Add lang, if
you wish. Do NOT use fr.

Wir waren drei Wochen/einen Tag/zwei Jahre/eine Stunde (lang) in


Berlin.
2b. The action began in the past and is continuing. Use seit + present tense. Do
NOT use fr.

Wir sind seit drei Wochen/einem


Tag/zwei Jahren/einer Stunde in
Berlin.

We have been (and still are) in


Berlin for three weeks/one day/two
years/one hour.

2c. The action extends into the future. Use fr ONLY in this case.

Wir sind fr drei Wochen/einen


Tag/zwei Jahre/eine Stunde in
Berlin.

We are in Berlin for three


weeks/one day/two years/one hour.
[We are there already, and this is
how long we expect to stay]

Wir werden fr drei Wochen/einen


Tag/zwei Jahre/eine Stunde nach
Berlin reisen.

We are going to travel to Berlin for


three weeks/one day/two years/one
hour. [This is how long we are
planning to stay]

3. Always use ohne for without/with no, never mit kein.

Da ist ein Huhn ohne Kopf!

There's a chicken with no head!

4. Aus = out of. This basic meaning can be extended to describe where one comes from
(as in one's home or birthplace, what something is made of, and occasionally a motive
for doing something.. To say where one has just been, von is used. Von is also used to
say what planet someone is from, and to indicate the author of a book or the creator of a
work of art:

Snoopy weigert sich, aus seiner


Hundehtte zu kommen.

Snoopy refuses to come out of


his dog house.

Er isst nicht mehr aus seiner


Schssel.

He no longer eats out of his bowl.

Snoopy kommt vom Mars, nicht aus Snoopy comes from Mars, not
Connecticut.
from Connecticut.
Charlie Brown kommt von London,
um zu helfen.

Charlie Brown comes from


London in order to help.

Er gibt Snoopy einen Mantel aus


Katzenfell.

He gives Snoopy a coat made out


of cat fur.

Snoopy fngt aus Freude an zu


tanzen.

Snoopy begins to dance for [out


of] joy.

Die Peanuts Comics sind von Charles The Peanuts cartoons are by
Schulz.
Charles Schulz.

Look him in the eyes! Your


Schnitzel originates from this
animal!

5. Wegen = because of. Unlike weil, da, and denn, wegen is a preposition, not a
conjunction. Like because of, it is followed by a noun or pronoun (in the genitive, since
it's a genitive preposition) that gives the reason, not by a whole clause (with a verb) that
gives the reason. In speaking, it is often used with the dative instead of the genitive.

Wegen der Explosion meines


Computers konnte ich meine
Hausaufgaben nicht machen.

Because of the explosion of my


computer, I couldn't do my
homework. [Wegen ==> the
reason given is a noun phrase: the
explosion of my computer]

Weil/da mein Computer


explodiert ist, konnte ich meine
Hausaufgaben nicht machen.

Because my computer exploded, I


couldn't do my homework. [Weil/da
==> the reason given is a whole
clause with a verb: my computer
exploded]

Wegen des schlechten


Wetters/dem schlechten Wetter
sitzen wir zu Hause und spielen
Moorhuhnjagd [=formerly very
popular goofy video game in which
you hunt some dumb chickens].

Because of the bad weather, we


are sitting at home and playing
Moorhuhnjagd. [Wegen ==> the
reason given is a noun phrase: the
bad weather]

Weil/da das Wetter schlecht ist,


sitzen wir zu Hause und spielen
Moorhuhnjagd [=formerly very
popular goofy video game in which
you hunt some dumb chickens].

Because the weather is bad, we


are sitting at home and playing
Moorhuhnjagd.[Weil/da ==> the
reason given is a whole clause with
a verb: the weather is bad]

6a. Similarly, vor and nach are prepositions, not to be confused with the corresponding
conjunctions bevor and nachdem ==> vor and nach need to be followed by a noun or
pronoun, whereas bevor and nachdem need to be followed by a whole clause that
includes a verb. [See "Wohin gehen wir?" above for other uses of nach.]

Die Deutschstudenten sind vor der


Klasse ganz aufgeregt.
Die Deutschstudenten sind bevor
der Klasse ganz aufgeregt.

The German students are totally


excited before class.

Die Franzsischstudenten rennen


schreiend weg, bevor die Klasse
beginnt.
Die Franzsischstudenten rennen
schreiend weg, vor die Klasse
beginnt.

The French students run away


screaming before class begins.

Nach der Wiedervereinigung gab es


After reunification there were many
in Deutschland viele unerwartete
unexpected economic and social
wirtschaftliche und soziale
problems in Germany.
Probleme.
Beethoven schrieb seine neunte
Sinfonie, nachdem er taub
geworden war.

Beethoven wrote his ninth


symphony after he had become
deaf.

Hochmut [=arrogance] kommt vor


dem Fall.
Hochmut [=arrogance] kommt
bevor dem Fall.

German counterpart of the English


expression "Pride comes before a
fall."

Nach dem Essen sollst du ruhn,


oder tausend Schritte tun.
Nachdem dem Essen sollst du
ruhn, oder tausend Schritte tun.

Literally, this means: "After the


meal you should rest, or do 1000
steps." ==> After meals, take a
nap or go for a walk.

Nach mir die Sintflut.


Nachdem mir die Sintflut.

Literally, this means: "After me,


the flood." This is a famous quote
(Aprs moi/nous le dluge),
variously attributed to Louis XV or
his mistress, Madame de
Pompadour, used idiomatically in
German when someone deals with
a situation in such a way that it will
be OK for him/her, but there is
likely to be chaos for people to deal
with later.

6b. When it precedes a time expression, vor means ago:

"Wann fhrt der Zug nach


Hamburg?" -- "Sie haben ihn
gerade verpasst. Er ist vor zwei
Minuten abgefahren. Der nchste
Zug fhrt morgen frh um 6:27."

"When does the train to Hamburg


leave?" -- "You just missed it. It
left two minutes ago. The next
train leaves tomorrow at 6:27."

"Wann bist du aufgestanden?" -"Vor fnf Minuten."

"When did you get up?" -- "Five


minutes ago."

Vor 87 Jahren brachten unsere


Vter auf diesem Kontinent eine
neue Nation hervor...

Four score and seven years ago,


our fathers brought forth upon this
continent a new nation...

7. When ber means "about" (as opposed to "over" or "above"), it is always used with
the accusative:

Eminem denkt, dass die Leute


immer ber ihn sprechen.

Eminem thinks that people are


always talking about him.

One can learn a lot about the 2nd


Vom History Channel kann man viel
World War from the History
ber den 2. Weltkrieg lernen.
Channel.
8. Nouns and pronouns following the most common enitive prepositions (an)statt, trotz,
whrend and wegen will generally be in the Genitive in more formal speaking and
writing, but are increasingly often in the Dative in more informal speaking and writing.

Wegen des Fhns/dem Fhn waren


alle schlecht gelaunt. [Fhn is a
notorious weather phenomenon
north and south of the Alps, a
warm, dry wind coming off the Alps Because of the Foehn wind,
especially in Spring and late Winter everyone was in a bad mood.
that gives people headaches and
puts them in a bad mood.
Meteorologically it is comparable to
the Chinook in the Rockies.]
Whrend des Endspiels/dem
Endspiel der
Fuballweltmeisterschaft waren die
Straen wir leergefegt.

During the final of the soccer world


cup the streets were deserted [wie
leergefegt = as if they had been
swept empty].

Trotz des Endes/dem Ende der


Despite the end of the recession,
Rezession stieg die Arbeitslosigkeit. unemployment increased.
9a. The dative preposition gegenber can precede or follow the noun it refers to. When
gegenber is used with a pronoun, it must follow the pronoun. You should put the
accusative preposition entlang after the noun it refers to. You may occasionally see it
used before the noun, in which case it actually becomes a dative (or occasionally
genitive) preposition.

Das Panorama-Restaurant Loreley


am Rhein liegt direkt gegenber
dem Loreleyfelsen.
Das Panorama-Restaurant Loreley
am Rhein liegt dem Loreleyfelsen
direkt gegenber.
Wenn Sie am Fenster sitzen und
essen, ist die Loreley Ihnen direkt
gegenber.
Wenn Sie am Fenster sitzen und

The Panorama-Restaurant Loreley


am Rhein lies directly across from
(opposite) the Loreley rock.
If you sit at the window and eat,
the Loreley is directly across from
(opposite) you.

essen, ist die Loreley direkt


gegenberIhnen.
Wenn man im Schiff den Rhein
entlang fhrt, sieht man viele
romantische alte Burgen, und die
sagenumwobene Loreley.
[rare:] Wenn man im Schiff
entlang dem Rhein/des Rheins
fhrt, sieht man viele romantische
alte Burgen, und die
sagenumwobene Loreley.

If one rides along the Rhine by


boat, one sees many romantic old
castles, and the legendary Loreley.

9b. Gegenber can also be used to mean in relation to as in the following examples:

Die Deutschen stehen


Multimediahandys skeptisch
gegenber.

The Germans are skeptical about


multimedia cell phones. [literally:
The Germans stand skeptically in
relation to multimedia cell phones]

Die Organisatoren des Robo-Cup


wollen die Scheu gegenber
Robotern abbauen. [This is a
competition in which robots play
soccer. Click here for the RoboCup
German Open.]

The organizers of the Robo-Cup


want to reduce the
apprehensiveness [people feel] in
relation to robots.

Warum bist du mir gegenber


immer so aggressiv?
Warum bist du gegenber mir
immer so aggressiv?

Why are you always so aggressive


towards me?

Zurck nach oben

Introduction
Prepositions are small words that are placed in front of nouns or pronouns. Examples in English
are: in, under, from, after, for, through, next to. A prepositional phrases is a group of 2 or more
words that start with a preposition and end with a noun or pronoun. Here are some prepositional
phrases: in March, under the bed, from me, after lunch, for a long time, through the park, next to
her.
Do a quiz to identify prepositions (and other parts of speech).

German prepositions
German prepositions are quite easy to learn and are similar in use to their English equivalents.
The difference is that all German prepositions are followed by one of three German cases
(accusative, dative, genitive). It is essential, therefore, that the speaker or writer of German
knows which case is associated with each preposition. Only then can he or she be sure of
choosing the correct form of the article, adjective or noun.
The first three groups of prepositions are easy because they always take the same case. Here is a
list of the most common ones, with their most common meanings:
Accusative case
bis - until
durch - through
fr - for
gegen - against
ohne - without
um - around

Dative case
aus - out
ausser - except for
bei - near. at
nach - after, to
mit - with
seit - since
von - from
zu - to

Genitive case
statt - instead of
trotz - in spite of
whrend - during
wegen - because of

Following is the fourth group of very common two-way prepositions, that can take either the
accusative or the dative case:
Accusative/dative
an - at, on
auf - on
hinter - behind
in - in
neben - next to
ber - over
unter - under
vor - in front of
zwischen - between
The above prepositions take the accusative case when there is movement towards or into the
place indicated by the noun. They take the dative case when there is no movement towards or
into the place indicated by the noun. Here are some examples:
Accusative case:

Ich fahre jeden Tag in die Stadt. - I drive into town every day.
Der Hund lief hinter einen Baum. - The dog ran behind a tree.

Sie legte das Buch auf den Tisch. - She laid the book on the table.

Der Vogel flog ber das Haus. - The bird flew over the Haus.

Dative case:

Ich arbeite in der Stadt. - I work in the city.


Der Hund begrub seinen Knochen hinter dem Baum. - The dog buried its bone behind the
tree.

Das Bild hing an der Wand ber der Tr. - The picture hung on the wall above the door.

Sie stand zwischen ihrer Mutter und ihrem Vater. - She was standing between her mother
and her father.

Note: The dative is used in the following sentences, even though there is movement:

Die Kinder sprangen vor dem Fernseher herum. - The kids were jumping around in front
of the TV.
Sie schwamm den ganzen Tag im Flu. - She swam in the river all morning.

Der Tiger ging in seinem Kfig auf und ab. - The tiger walked backwards and forwards in
its cage.

Die Maus lief die ganze Nacht unter meinem Bett umher. - The mouse was running
around under my bed all night.

There is movement in each of the above sentences, but there is no movement towards or into the
nouns (river, cage, bed, etc). The mouse remains under the bed; it doesn't run from the door and
then under the bed. The tiger remains in its cage; it does not enter its cage from outside of it. The
girl remains in the river. There is no mention of her jumping into the water from the river bank.
And so on.
In summary: The accusative case is used with the two-way prepositions only when there is
movement towards or into the place indicated by the noun or pronoun.

Note: English noun phrases starting with the preposition of .. are usually conveyed in German by
the genitive case without a preposition. Here are some examples:

in the middle of the city = in der Mitte der Stadt [genitive]


the photo of a house = das Foto eines Hauses [genitive]

at the end of the day = am Ende des Tags [genitive]

the driver of the car = der Fahrer des Autos [genitive]

the cause of the problem = die Ursache des Problems [genitive]

the tail of a mouse = der Schwanz einer Maus [genitive]

Note: English noun phrases starting with the preposition to .. and expressing the indirect object
are usually conveyed in German by the dative case without a preposition. Here are some
examples:

I gave the book to my friend = ich schenkte meinem Freund [dative] das Buch
the photo of a house = das Foto eines Hauses [genitive]

at the end of the day = am Ende des Tags [genitive]

the driver of the car = der Fahrer des Autos [genitive]

the cause of the problem = die Ursache des Problems [genitive]

the tail of a mouse = der Schwanz einer Maus [genitive]

The Ultimate Guide to Knitting Up German


Sentences with Prepositions
Here, hold these knitting needles in your hands.
Excellent.
Now, put this needle behind the other, in the loop.
Then with your left hand, wrap the yarn around
Okaythats far enough.
Now, try teaching someone else these knitting stepswithout using prepositions!
Impossible? Incredibly tricky, at the very least.
While theyre clearly useful little parts of speech, learning prepositions in German could make
you feel like unraveling.
But the same is true in English! Even The Economist agrees that prepositions have a confusing
nature.
So were here to help you navigate the world of German prepositions.
Maybe you have been struggling with your mits and your aufs. Maybe prepositions are going to
be the subject of your next class and you simply want a head start.

However you ended up looking to brush up your prepositions, dont fearyouve come to the
right place. Well have you knitting prepositions into your German sentences beautifully by the
end of this.
Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take
anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)

The Basics: What Are Prepositions?


Prepositions are words that link a noun to the rest of the sentence. They usually tell you about
time, place and direction. Examples of English prepositions include on, out, under, from, with,
about and until, but there are many more. They are those little words that you dont even notice
youre using, but which completely change the meaning of the sentence.
But theyre just words, I hear you cry, all I need to do is learn them!
Sadly, thats not the case. In German, using prepositions is more complicated because of
Germans case system. The thing about German prepositions is that they affect the case of the
noun that follows them.
Which in many ways is great, because it stops you from having to worry about what function the
noun in playing in the clause (Is it a direct object? An indirect object? etc.). Instead, all you have
to do is look at the preposition.
For example, if you want to say that youre going somewhere with your parents, you
automatically know that Eltern (parents) must be in the dative because its preceded by mit
(with).
But well get to that in due course. For now, lets look at the different types of preposition you
might encounter.

German Prepositions That Take the Accusative


There are many prepositions which are always followed by the accusative case. So it doesnt
matter where it comes in a sentence, the noun directly following these prepositions are
automatically in the accusative. A list of these would look a lot like this:

bis (until, up to, by)


durch (through, across)

entlang (along)

fr (for)

gegen (against, towards)

ohne (without)

um (around, about, at) when talking about time

German Prepositions That Take the Dative


Alongside prepositions that take the accusative, there are also those which only take the dative.
These work exactly the same way as accusative prepositions, but (obviously) they are followed
by the dative case. These include:

ab (from) time
aus (out of, from)

ausser (except for, apart from)

bei (by, at, in view of)

dank (thanks to)

entgegen (contrary to)

gegenber (opposite)

gem (according to)

laut (according to)

mit (with)

nach (after, to) referring to direction; (according to)

seit (for, since)

von (from, of)

zu (to)

zufolge (according to) follows the noun

It can be hard work remembering which prepositions take which case, but there are ways of
making it stick. Its best to learn which case a preposition takes when youre in the process of
learning the word.
So, however you choose to learn your vocabulary, make sure you write the corresponding case
on those flashcards or posters, and dont forget to chant the case alongside the preposition as
youre waiting for the bus.
Learning phrases with prepositions in them is another excellent way to learn which case they
take. You always have a phrase to refer to if you cant remember off the top of your head. So for
example, you might learn the phrase entgegen allen Erwartungen (contrary to all

expectations). From the n in allen, you will always know that entgegen takes the dative (if it
were accusative if would read alle).

Two-case German Prepositions


Now heres where things get interesting! Wechselprpositionen (two-case prepositions) are
prepositions that can take either the dative or the accusative (Great!). Except, you cant use them
interchangeably. (Oh). But fear not: Theres a rule. And once youve got that rule down, youll
be fine.
The rule is all about what youre trying to say, and it has to do with direction and position:
If youre trying to express movement (direction), use the accusative.
If youre trying to state where something is (position), use the dative.
Its easier with examples.
Take the sentence Ich hnge das Bild an die Wand (I hang the picture on the wall). Here, the
an implies movement: The picture wasnt on the wall before, but it is now. It has moved. This
expresses direction, and therefore takes the accusative: an die Wand.
On the other hand, the sentence Das Bild hngt an der Wand (the picture is hanging on the
wall) expresses position: It tells the reader where the picture is, and implies no movement. In this
case, the an takes the dative: an der Wand.
Make sense?
Here are some more examples, just to make sure.
Directional: Ich lege den Buch auf den Tisch. (I place the book on the table.)
Positional: Das Buch liegt auf dem Tisch. (The book is on the table.)
Directional: Ich setzte mich neben meine Frau. (I sat down next to my wife)
Positional: Ich sa neben meiner Frau. (I was sitting next to my wife.)
Directional: Heute gehen wir in die Stadt. (Today we are going to town.)
Positional: Das Haus liegt in der Stadt. (The house is in town.)

German Prepositions That Take the Genitive


Okay, I lied. There arent just three categories of prepositions. Theres actually a fourth:
prepositions that take the genitive. But these are rarer, and there are only a couple that are really
important to know.

And Ill let you in on a little secret, too: Many Germans dont use the genitive with these
prepositions when theyre speaking. They use the dative instead. But if you have exams to take
or academic papers to write, wed advise using the genitive when you can.
Heres a handy list of genitive prepositions:

anstatt, statt (instead of)


auerhalb/innerhalb/oberhalb/unterhalb (outside/inside/above/below)

diesseits/jenseits/beiderseits (on this side of/on the other side of/on either side of

trotz (in spite of)

unweit (not far from)

whrend (during)

wegen (because of)

Notice how all the prepositions ending in halb or seits take the genitive.
Also, as a general rule, prepositions with an English translation which includes the word to
(thanks to, according to, etc.) take the dative, whereas most of those that include the word of
(in spite of, because of, etc.) take the genitive case. Of course, thats not a hard and fast rule, but
its worth knowing for those times when you are without a dictionary and need to make an
educated guess.

German Verbs That Take Prepositions


The last big thing to learn about prepositions is their relationship with verbs. And it turns out,
verbs and prepositions tend to get kind of cozy with one another. Just as in English, there are
specific verbs that are always followed by specific prepositions.
Consider, for example, the verb to fall in love. In English, you fall in love with someone (if
youre luckyor indeed, unlucky!). You never fall in love about somebody or fall in love
for somebody. Its the same in German. Except that unfortunately, the preposition/verb
combinations dont always match up. In German, you fall in love in someone: ich habe mich
in sie verliebt (I have fallen in love with her).
I know, I knowthis sounds like a nightmare: How on earth are you meant to know which
prepositions to use? Well, Im not going to lie. Its hard. But there are certain things you can do
to lessen the struggle.

Learn the prepositions (and the cases that they take) at the same time as learning
the verb. Learn the whole thing as a unit: instead of learning sich verlieben (to fall in
love), learn sich verlieben in (+acc). That way it will stick in your head.

Learn examples. Everyone is always going on about learning examples (myself


included), but this is probably the most useful time to do it. When I was school, I learned
a load of verb/preposition combinations by sticking signs up all over my parents house.
On the inside of back door it read Achten Sie auf das Glatteis (beware of the sheet ice),
with a big warning sign above it.

Heres a handy list of verb/preposition combinations to get you started.

3 Handy Ways to Use German Prepositions Like a Native


1. Contractions
So, youve got the basics down. Now to make yourself sound like a native. And one of the
easiest things to do to achieve that aim? Avoid saying zu dem or an dem or in das. Instead, slide
them together and say zum, am and ins.
And thats not just in spoken language; these can be written, too. Its like dont and cant in
English, but even more common (and they dont use apostrophes for this kind of contraction).
Heres a list of the most common German contractions:

an + das = ans
an + dem = am

auf + das = aufs

bei + dem = beim

in + das = ins

in + dem = im

von + dem = vom

zu + dem = zum

zu + der = zur

2. Prepositional adverbs
Sounds scary, doesnt it? But actually its really simple. So simple, that lots of people start using
them without even noticing theyre doing it. In fact, I didnt even know what they were called
until I just looked it up.
Prepositional adverbs are formed by taking a preposition and putting the prefix da- (or dar- if the
preposition begins with a vowel) on the beginning. So auf becomes darauf, von becomes davon,
and so on. They are used to refer back to something youve just mentioned, and the Germans use
them all the time.
Again, its probably easiest to understand using examples.
Ich fahre Morgen nach Berlin, aber meine Mutter wei nichts davon.
(Tomorrow Im going to Berlin, but my mother doesnt know anything about it.)
Er hat einen neuen Job und er freut sich sehr darber.
(He has a new job and hes really pleased about it.)
The da + preposition word can also come before the thing youre referring to, as in the following
examples:
Sie hatte Angst davor, dass sie bei der Prfung durchfallen wrde.
(She was scared that she would fail the test.)
Ich warte darauf, dass sie das Haus verkauft haben.
(Im waiting for them to have sold the house.)
This happens when youre using a verb (or verbal phrase) which is usually used with a
preposition, but you dont have a noun to follow the preposition. Many verbs dont really make
sense in German without their prepositions (see the list above), so you have to find a way to keep
the preposition.
For example, the first sentence uses the verbal phrase vor etwas (+dat) Angst haben (to be
scared of something). The sentence could easily have read Sie hatte Angst vor der Prfung. In
this case, it is simple: The noun that follows vor is put in the dative case. In the example,

however, the thing that she is scared of is not a noun, but a whole clause (a clause being a phrase
with a conjugated verb, she would fail). Because you cannot put an entire clause in the dative
case, you have to put in a little da-.
It may seem a little weird at first, but after a while it becomes completely natural. In German, the
sentences are very well ordered. Everything must be tied up and neat. Therefore you cant leave
a preposition hanging without a noun, so the da- is just a way of tidying up. If you think about a
literal translation of that example sentence, things may become a little clearer: She had anxiety
about it, that she would fail the test.

3. Phrases with prepositions


And one final tip for the keen beans: There are loads of great idiomatic phrases that use
prepositions which are really handy in everyday speech. Learn these, and youll have the whole
prepositions thing down. And youll have your German business partners/school exchange
partners/hotel staff/friends eating out of your hands.
Here are a few to get you started:

Es kommt darauf an (It depends)

Ich bin damit einverstanden (I agree)

Ich halte nicht viel davon (I dont think much of it)

beim besten Willen nicht (By no stretch of the imagination)

Hr auf damit! (Cut it out!)

Keine Spur davon (No sign of it)

mit Waschbrettbauch (Ripped, muscly) Literally: with a washboard stomach

So there you have it, German prepositions in a nutshell. They may not be the easiest thing to
learn, but they are seriously useful. And if you do everything weve suggested here, youll soon
be laughing. What did I even find so complicated?!

What are German Wechselprpositionen


German prepositions are governed by a case dative, accusative or genitive. In this blog, we
focus on the most difficult prepositions: two-way-prepositions or, in German,
Wechselprpositionen (wechseln = to change).

There are different types of prepositions:


1. Prepositions with Dative.
2. Prepositions with Accusative
3. Prepositions with Genitive
4. Wechselprpositionen that use either Accusative or Dative.
The concept of these two-way-prepositions is not known in English, this is why you really have
to understand what they are about.

Learn with the PDF German prepositions Wechselprpositionen


Go to the youtube-Video Wechselprpositionen
Dative case
answers the question: Where (wo) is something/someone.

Accusative case
answers the question: where to (wohin) is something/someone going, running, etc. You always
have two places: A and B. The movement goes from A to B. (for example from the street into the
restaurant, from the restaurant to the bar etc.)

In some grammar books, you find the difference between movement (Dative) no
movement (Accusative).
This is wrong. If you have learned it, try to figure out the correct concept.
Otherwise, you might get confused!
You can have a lot of movement at one place (where): Where do you run/swim/go
for a walk?
I am swimming in a pool. This is definitely a movement, isnt to? But it is a

movement at one place, the pool. For a clearer understanding, have a look at the
example sentences and the video.
However, with accusative, you always have a movement.
With Dative, it is no movement and sometimes also movement!

2. List of German Wechselprpositionen


1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9

an
auf
hinter
in
neben
ber
unter
vor
zwischen

at
on
behind
in
next to
over
under
before
in between

German prepositions

Das Bild hngt an der Wand


Die Maus ist auf dem Tisch
Das Glas steht hinter der Maus
Die Blumen sind in der Vase
Die Maus ist neben dem Schrank
Die Lampe hngt ber dem Tisch
Die Maus ist unter dem Tisch
Die Katze ist vor der Vase
Die Maus ist zwischen den Bchern

The picture hangs at the wall


The mouse is at the table
The glas is behind the mouse.
The flowers are in the vase
The mouse is next to the cupboard
The lamp hangs above the table
The mouse is under the table
The cat is in front of the vase
The mouse is between the books

4. Repetition: Dative and accusative case


Articles in the Nominative Case Articles in the Dative CaseArticles in the Accusative Case
der / ein
dem / einem
den / einen
die / eine
der / einer
die / eine
das / ein
dem / einem
das / ein
Plural: die /
Plural: den /
Plural: die /

pronouns in the
Nominative Case
ich
du
er, sie, es
wir
ihr
sie/Sie (informal/formal)

Dative Case

Accusative Case

mir
dir
ihm, ihr, ihm
uns
euch
ihnen/Ihnen

mich
dich
ihn, es, sie
uns
euch
sie/Sie

the possessive articles in dative are builded according the indefinite article:
masculine:meinem, deinem, seinem, ihrem, unserem, eurem, ihrem.
feminine: meiner, deiner,
neutral as masculine
plural: meinen, deinen,
the possessive articles in accusative are builded according the indefinite article:
masculine:meinen, deinen, seinen, ihren, unseren, euren, ihren.
feminine: meine, deine,> no changes
neutral as masculine > no changes
plural: meine, deine,

5. Example Sentences
Wo? A. Where are the mice? DATIVE
Die erste Maus ist neben dem Schrank.
Die zweite Maus ist vor der Tasse.
Die dritte Maus ist vor dem Regal.
Die vierte Maus ist zwischen den Bchern.

Wohin? A>B. Where did the mice run?


ACCUSATIVE
Die erste Maus ist hinter den Schrank gerannt.
(ran into)
Die zweite Maus ist in die Tasse gehpft.
(jumped into)
Die dritte Maus ist hinter das Regal gerannt.
Die vierte Maus ist hinter die Bcher gehpft.

Wo? Dative

Wohin? Accusative

6. Exercises for German prepositions with dative and


accusative
1. Watch the video to do your first exercises.
2. For interactive exercises, go to this blog entry.
3. Have you understood the concept? Then, do the following exercise: Otto (=German first
name)
Otto joggt in den Wald
Otto joggt im Wald
What is the difference? Try to think how his path will look like. See the solution at the end of the
video.

Original Alphabetical

in

in

zu
to, at

von
from, of

mit
with

auf
on, at, in

fur
for

an
at, on

bei
by, with, at

nach
after, towards

aus
out, out of, from

um
around

ber
above, over, about

vor
in front of, before, ago

durch
through

bis
until, till

unter
under

zwischen
between

gegen
against

ohne
without

seit
since, for

whrend
during

neben
next to, beside

wegen
because of

hinter

behind, in back of

gegenber
opposite

ab
from

innerhalb
within

aufgrund
on the basis of, because of

trotz
in spite of

pro
per

auer
except, apart from

statt
instead of

laut
according to

auerhalb
outside

angesichts
in view of

per
by way of, per

mithilfe
with the aid of

entlang
along

gem
in accordance with

anhand
on the basis of, with the aid of

mittels
by means of

entsprechend
in accordance, accordingly

hinsichtlich
with regard to

bezglich
regarding

zufolge
according to

einschlielich
including

jenseits

beyond

zugunsten
in favor of

infolge
as a result of

samt
together with, along with

anstelle
instead of

seitens
on the part of
kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk

Original Alphabetical

bis
until, by, as far as (ACC)

durch
through (ACC)

fr
for (ACC)

gegen
against, around (timewise) (ACC)

ohne

without (ACC)

um
around (place), at (time) (ACC)

aus
out of, from (DAT)

auer
except for, besides, in addition (DAT)

bei
with, at the home of (DAT)

mit
with (DAT)

nach
to, after (DAT)

seit
since (timewise), for (DAT)

von
from, of (DAT)

zu
to (people and locations) (DAT)

an
to, toward (ACC); at, beside (DAT)

auf
onto, on (ACC); on, at (DAT)

hinter
behind (ACC und DAT)

in
into (ACC); in (DAT)

neben
beside, next to (ACC und DAT)

ber
over, across (ACC); above, over (DAT)

unter
under (ACC und DAT)

vor
in front of (ACC und DAT)

zwischen
between (ACC und DAT)

statt
instead of (GEN)

anstatt
instead of (GEN)

trotz
in spite of (GEN)

whrend
during (GEN)

wegen

on account of (GEN)

peinlich
awkward, embarrassing

niedlich
cute, sweet, pretty, nice

kjlkjlkjlj

ab
from... off, case: ?

am = an dem
at the [day] ... on the ... to the, case: dative

an
at ... on ... upon ... by, case: two way accusative or dative

ans = an das
at the ... on the ... to the, case: accusative

anstatt
instead of, case: genitive

auf
on top of... at ... upon ... onto, case: two way accusative or dative

aufs = auf das


on... at the ... upon the ... onto the, case: accusative

aus

from... out, case: dative

auer
except... beside, case: dative

auerhalb
outside of , case: genitive

bei
with ... at, case: dative

beim = bei dem


with the ... at the, case: dative

bis
until ... to ... by, case: accusative*

durch
per... by means of... through, case: accusative

entlang
along... down, case: accusative

fr
for, case: accusative

gegen
against... towards, case: accusative

hinter
behind, case: two way accusative or dative

hinters = hinter das


behind the , case: accusative

im = in dem
in... at the [place... month... season], case: dative

in
in... at, case: two way accusative or dative

inbegriffen
including, case: ?

inklusive
including, case: ?

innerhalb
inside of , case: genitive

ins = in das
in the, case: accusative

mit
with... by, case: dative

nach
after ... towards ... to, case: dative

neben
beside... in addition to, case: two way accusative or dative

ohne
without, case: accusative

pro
per each, case: ?

seit

for ...[period of time], case: dative

trotz
inspite of, case: genitive

ber
about... above... over... across, case: two way accusative or dative

bers = ber das


about the ... above the ... over the ... across the, case: accusative

um
about ... around, case: accusative

ums = um das
about ... around the, case: accusative

unter
under... below, case: two way accusative or dative

unters = unter das


under the, case: accusative

vom = von dem


by the ... from the ... of the, case: dative

von
by ... from ... of, case: dative

vor
before... in front of... ahead, case: two way accusative or dative

vors = vor das


before the, case: accusative

whrend
during... throughout, case: genitive

wegen
because of, case: genitive

zu
to ... towards ... at ... for, case: dative

zum = zu dem
to the, case: dative

zur = zu der
to the, case: dative

zwischen
between, case: two way accusative or dative

Lk;kjkl;j

Original Alphabetical

aus
dat

ausser
dat

bei
dat

mit
dat

nach
dat

seit
dat

von
dat

zu
dat

fr
akk

um
akk

durch
akk

ohne
akk

gegen
akk

an

2way

auf
2way

hinter
2way

in
2way

neben
2way

ber
2way

unter
2way

vor
2way

zwischen
2way

trotz
gen

anstatt
gen

whrend
gen

wegen
gen