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The meaning of "auf" in German

on, near, during

"auf" as a locative preposition (on top/on

with contact)
The thing that stands out most about "auf" as a locative
preposition is that it can be dative or accusative depending on the
type of clause


"auf" takes dative

Auf is used with dative if the circumstantial complement of place
implies location (without movement)

Ich bin auf der Insel

I am on the island

"auf" takes accusative

Auf is used with the accusative if the circumstantial complement
of place implies direction (with movement)

Ich fliege auf die Insel

I’m flying to the island

Use of 'auf' as a locative preposition

auf means on top/on (with contact) in general:

Der Computer steht auf dem Tisch

The computer is on top of the table

If there were no contact, über would be used.

Germans use auf in the following contexts:

with islands
Ich fliege auf die Kanarischen Inseln
I’m flying to the Canary Islands

with open spaces as “die Straße” (the street) or

“die Terrasse” (the terrace)
Ich warte auf der Straße
I’m waiting on the street

Wir haben auf der Terrasse gegessen

We ate on the terrace

Exceptions: der Garten (the garden), der Park (the park)

and der Wald (the forest), the preposition in is used.

with public areas: Markt (market), Post (post

office), Bank (bank), Rathaus (city hall)
Ich bin auf der Bank
I’m in the bank

with events such as parties, congresses, etc.

Bist du auf der Party?
Are you at the party?

with the word "Seite" (page)

Sie finden auf dieser Seite Informationen über die
deutsche Kultur
You will find information about the German culture on this

"auf" as a modal preposition

Ich habe es auf meine Weise getan
I did it my way
Das geht auf meine Rechnung
This goes on my bill

Was bedeutet das auf Deutsch?

What does this mean in German?


Auf jeden Fall

In any case

Verbs with the preposition "auf"

The most important verbs with the preposition "auf" are:

 absetzen auf (to set down on)

 achten auf (to pay attention to)
 achtgeben auf (to look out for)
 anstoßen 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)
 zuschießen auf (to hurdle toward, pounce on)

Grammar of "auf"

Declension of 'auf'
Auf does not change, just like all the prepositions.

"aufs" Contraction
"aufs" is the contaction of "auf" + "das".
The meaning of "bei" in German
in, near, while, at, for, etc.

The preposition "bei" is one of the most complicated ones

because it is used in many different contexts. We’ll show them

'bei' as a locative preposition

bei + person (location)

It is used to say that one is with a person (at their home)

Hans ist bei Ralf

Hans is with Ralf (at his home)

Die Kiste war bei mir

The box was with me

bei + a professional (location)

This means that one is with a professional in their place of
business or consultation:

Ich bin beim Arzt / Frisör / Bäcker

I’m at the doctor’s / hair cutter’s / baker’s

bei + place of work (location)

to say that one is at work, at the company, organization or

Bist du bei der Arbeit?

Are you at work?

Ich bin bei der Polizei

I’m at the police station

Er war bei der Bundeswehr

He was in the army
Der Rechner war bei Amazon im Angebot
The computer was on sale on Amazon

Mein Auto ist bei der Jahresinspektion

My car is at its annual inspection

bei with the meaning of near (location)

Wohnst Du bei der Schule?
Do you live close to the school?

bei as a temporal preposition (meaning


bei + Noun that indicates a period of time

bei means "during" in the sense of time.

Wovon träumst du bei Nacht?

What do you dream during the night?

Wir haben bei dem Festival einige Freunde getroffen

We met some friends during the festival

bei + Nominalized verb

With the construction "bei" + nominalized verb you can form a
type of gerund in German:

Ich bin beim Essen

I am eating (Sort of like: I am at the meal)

NOTE: Given that all the nominalized verbs are neuter and have
an article, the structure is always:

bei + dem + verb in the infinitive ➜ because it always

contracts, the form is ➜


Ich bin am Essen can also be said

bei to refer to temperatures and numbers
"Bei" is used together with temperatures or numbers

Wasser kocht bei 100º C

Water boils at 100ºC

Wir fangen nicht bei Null an

We didn’t start at zero

Verbs with the preposition bei

 bleiben bei (to maintain/stick with, stay at, to reaffirm)

 helfen bei (to help with)
 nachfragen bei (to consult with)
 entschuldigen bei (to apologize to)
 beginnen bei (to start at)

beginnen bei (to start at)

Ich beginne beim Anfang
I’m starting at the beginning

bleiben bei (staying with/ sticking with)

Ich bleibe bei meiner Meinung
I’m sticking with my opinion

Grammar of "bei"

Declension of "bei"
Bei does not change, just like all the other prepositions.

"bei" takes dative

Words that follow "bei" have to be declined in dative (it always
takes dative)
beim is the contraction of (bei + dem)

The meaning of “in” in German

in means “in” in English.

The preposition in is in the group of preposition that can be

accusative or dative, depending on the meaning of the clause.

“in” as a locative preposition

It must be emphasized again that "in" is as a
"Wechselpräposition". This means that is can take accusative or
dative depending on the clause.


“in” with dative

In takes dative if the prepositional complement of place does not
imply movement (location).

Ich bin im Kino

I’m in the theater

“in” with accusative

In takes accusative if the prepositional complement of place
implies movement (direction).
Wie oft gehst du ins Kino?
How often do you go to the theater?

“in” as a temporal preposition

as a temporal preposition, “in” can be translated as “in,” where a
period of time is implicit. Take note that, as a temporal
preposition, “in” is dative:

In einer Stunde bin ich wieder da

I’ll be back in one hour

Was machst du im Sommer?

What do you do in the summer?

Verbs followed by the preposition “in”

 einbauen in (to insert in)
 einbinden in (to include in)
 sich verlieben in (to fall in love with)
 versunken in (absorbed in)
 zerteilen in (to divide into)

Grammar of "in"

Declension of “in”
“in” is not declined (it doesn’t change), just like all the

"im" is the contraction of (in + dem).

"ins" is the contraction of (in + das).
Meaning of "nach" in German
to (locative), after (temporal), according to (modal).

The preposition "nach" is complicated because it is used in

numerous different contexts with different meanings. The good
thing is that it takes always dative. We’ll show you the different
contexts now:

"nach" as a locative preposition (to)

"nach" + countries, cities or continents

It is used to introduce a destination. "Nach" is used with any
toponym* (name of a place) that does not have an article.

Ich fahre nach Deutschland

I’m driving to Germany

Wann fliegst du nach Amerika?

When are you flying to America?

* As long as they are not natural borders (rivers, seas) or islands.

"nach" + adverb of direction

"nach" is used together with adverbs of direction:

Ich gehe nach links

I’m going to the left

List of adverbs used with "nach":

"nach" +

nach vorn / forward

nach hinten backward

nach links to the left

nach rechts to the


nach oben upward

nach unten downward

nach innen inward

nach außen outward

nach + cardinal point (direction)

"nach" is used with cardinal directions:

Die Sonne wandert von Osten nach Westen

The Sun moves from East to West

"nach" +
cardinal point

nach Norden northward

nach Süden southward

nach Osten eastward

nach Westen westward

nach Hause (direction)

nach Hause is an expression that means home (As in “I’m going
Morgen fliege ich nach Hause
Tomorrow I’m flying home

Sometimes, this can even be found as an adverb in one word


"nach" as a temporal preposition (meaning


nach + hours
"Nach" is used to say the hour in German.

Viertel nach sieben

A quarter after seven (7:15)

Fünf nach halb drei

Two thirty-five (2:35)

"nach" + unit of time

Nach zwei Stunden war ich wieder zu Hause
After 2 hours I was home again

"nach" can be associated with units of time with "nächste" (the

next) as well as with "diese" (this):
Nach der nächsten Woche
After next week

Nach diesem Monat

After this month

See units of time in German

nach" + days of the week

nach Montag
after Monday

Die Präsidentschaftswahl findet am ersten

Dienstag nach dem ersten Montag im November statt
The presidential election is taking place on the first Tuesday
after the first Monday in November

See the days of the week in German.

"nach" + months of the year

Nach Januar folgt Februar
After January comes February

See months of the year in Germany.

"nach" as a modal preposition (according

nach dem Gesetz
according to the law

Post-position nach
One of the interesting things about German is that some
prepositions such as "nach" can be placed before or after the
words that they affect.

You can say:

Meiner Meinung nach or nach meiner Meinung (in my

Meiner Meinung nach ist das der beste Strand der

In my opinion, this is the best beach on the island

Verbs with the preposition "nach"

The most important verbs with the preposition "nach":

 abreisen nach (to depart for)

 bohren nach (to drill for)
 fliegen nach(to fly to)
 fahren nach(to drive to)
 fragen nach (to ask for)
 gehen nach(to go (walking) to)
 reisen nach (to travel to)
 riechen nach (to smell like)
 suchen nach (to look for)
 sehnen nach (to long for)

Grammar of "nach"

Declension of "nach"
"Nach" does not change, just like all the prepositions..

"nach" takes dative

The words that follow nach have to be declined in the dative
("nach" takes always dative).

he meaning of "zu" in German

"Zu" is a word that can create a lot of confusion amongst people
that are starting to learn German. It is used as a locative
preposition, temporal preposition, causal preposition, adverb and
conjunction with different meanings. In our opinion, "zu" is the
most complicated German word.

"zu" as a locative preposition

In general, it indicates direction toward a place or person.

It is used for saying that one is going to a person (or their


Tino fährt zu dir

Tino is driving to your place

If this person is a professional:

Er fährt zum Arzt

He’s driving to the doctor

It is used to say that one is going to some place, or on the way to

that place:

er fährt zum Flughafen

He’s going to the airport

wir gehen zur Schule

We are going to school

this place can be abstract:

er fährt zur Arbeit

He’s going to work

Zu Hause
The expression "zu Hause" means to be "at home". Take note
that this does not indicate movement as "zu"usually does.

Wir sind zu Hause

We’re at home

"zu" as a temporal preposition

As a temporal presposition, "zu" can be translated as "for" or "on"
where a period of time is implicit. This can be understood better
with some examples:

Was kann ich zu Weihnachten kochen?

What can I cook for Christmas?

Was machst du zu Halloween?

What are you doing on Halloween?

zum Muttertag
on/for Mother’s Day

zu Silvester
on/for New Year’s

zu Ostern
on/for Easter

zu Mittag
at noon

"zu" as a causal preposition

"Zu" as a causal preposition can be translated as "to".

was können wir zur Vermeidung von Fehlern tun?

What can we do to avoid mistakes?

"zu" as an adverb (too much)

"zu" is used very often with the meaning "too much".

Es ist zu kalt
It’s too cold

Er fährt zu schnell
He’s driving too fast

"zu" as an adverb (closed)

"zu" is used in colloquial German with the meaning of closed

Das Fenster ist zu

The window is closed

ab und zu
once in a while

"zu" + Infinitive
We are used to modal verbs needing another verb in its infinitive
form so that the sentence makes sense:

Ich will tanzen

I want to dance

Something similar happens to many verbs whose meaning can be

completed with a subordinate clause with an infinitive. This is
called "Infinitivkonstruktion" in German.

Ich weiß nicht, was zu sagen ist

I’d don’t know what to say

Es gibt viel zu tun

There is too much to do

Pay attention to how the separable verbs work in this clause:

Ich fange an, mein Leben zu ändern

I’m starting to change my life

"zu" as a substitute for "dass"

Sometimes, "dass" can be substituted for "zu" to not repeat the
subject. The construction with "zu" is more elegant:

Er hat mir gesagt, dass ich in 3 Jahren nochmals

kommen sollte
Er hat mir gesagt, in 3 Jahren nochmals zu kommen
He told me to come again in 3 years

"zu" before nominalized verbs

Often, verbs are nominalized in German. "Einkaufen" means "to
go shopping" as a verb. The nominalized version "Das
Einkaufen" means the same thing but is now a noun which is
why it is written with capital a letter and is neuter.

Ich gehe zum Einkaufen

I’m going shopping

Ich gehe zum Essen

I’m going to eat

"ohne zu" + Infinitive

The structure "ohne... zu" + INFINITIVE is the equivalent of
"without + gerund" ("without knowing", for example) in English

Ich habe das Auto gekauft, ohne zu überlegen

I bought the car without thinking

Ich weiß nicht wie lange man ohne zu trinken

überleben kann
I don’t know how long one can survive without drinking

Ich habe dir wehgetan, ohne es zu wollen

I hurt you without meaning to

Er ist meistens ohne zu frühstücken in die Schule

He usually went to school without eating breakfast

"um .. zu"
In subordinate clauses of purpose where the subject of both
clauses is the same, "um...zu" is used. If it were different,
then "damit" would be used.
Ich lerne Deutsch, um bei einer deutschen
Firma zu arbeiten
I’m learning German to work in a German company

But if the subject changes with "damit":

Wir sparen, damit meine Frau ein Auto kaufen kann We

are saving money so that my wife can buy a car

Purpose means that the action is carried out in the main clause
("Learning German") to achieve a result ("to work in a German

Separable verbs with the preposition "zu"

Next, we´ll show some separable verbs with the particle "zu":

 zuhören((to listen)
 zumachen (to close)
 zuordnen (to assign)
 zusperren (to close, block)

Verbs followed by the preposition "zu"

 addieren zu (to add to)

 auffordern zu (to invite to)
 beten zu (to pray to)
 einladen zu (to invite to)
 gehören zu (to belong to)
 gratulieren zu (to give congratulations to)
 passen zu (to match to)
 sagen zu (to say to)
 versuchen zu (to try to)
 weigern zu (to refuse to)

"zu" Grammar
Declension of "zu"
"Zu" does not change, just like all prepositions.

"zu" takes dative

Words that follow it have to be decline in the dative (it always
takes dative).

"zum" is the contraction of "zu" + "dem".

"zur" is the contraction of "zu" + "der".

ccusativ Accusative/Dativ Dative Genitive

e e

bis an ab anstatt
durch auf aus aufgrund
für hinter außer außerhal
gegen in bei b
ohne neben entgegen dank
um über entsprechen statt
wider unter d während
mit wegen
vor nach
zwischen seit

Prepositions with Accusative

 bis
 durch
 für
 gegen
 ohne
 um
 wider


bis bald
(see you soon)

bis in den Tod

von Kopf bis Fuß

(from head to toe)

 by means of, through (LOCATIVE)

Eine Reise durch Deutschland

(a trip through Germany)

Wir fahren durch den Fluss

(we are driving through the river)

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)

 for (PURPOSE)

sterben für dich

(to die for you)

 of (PURPOSE)

Institut für Allgemeine Physik

(Institute of General Physics)

Contractions: fürs (für + das)

Important verbs followed by the preposition für:

 abstellen für
(to send to)
 adaptieren für
(to adapt to/for)
 agitieren für
(to campaign for)
 Geld ausgeben für
(to spend money for)
 bürgen für
(to vouch for)
 einstehen für
(to be responsible for something)
 sich entscheiden für
(to decide on)
 entschuldigen für
(to apologize for)
 interessieren für
(to be interested in)
 sorgen für
(to take care of something)
 vertauschen für
(to change for)

 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 Büro

(He’s coming to the office at 9:00) [approximately]

Important verbs followed by the preposition gegen:

 abdichten gegen
(to seal against)
 abhärten gegen
(to strengthen against)
 abschirmen gegen
(to protect against)
 agitieren gegen
(to campaign against)
 protestieren gegen
(to protest against)

 Welt ohne Krieg
(a world without war)


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)
 kümmern um
(to care for)

 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
 außer
 bei
 entgegen
 entsprechend
 mit
 nach
 seit
 von
 zu

 starting at/on (TIME)

ab dem 24. Februar

(starting on the 24th of February)

 from (PLACE, ORIGIN)

Wir fliegen ab Köln

(we fly from Cologne)

 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:

 auswählen 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)

 without

Außer der Liebe nichts

(Nothing else besides love)

Wir sprechen alles außer Hochdeutsch

(We speak everything except high German)

 (expressions)

außer Betrieb
(out of service)

 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

 against, contrary to

entgegen allen Erwartungen

(contrary to all expectations)

 (expressions)

entgegen dem Uhrzeigersinn


 according to

entsprechend dieser Regel

(according to this rule)

den Umständen entsprechend

(according to the circumstances)

 with (MODAL)

Spiel mit mir

(Play with me)

Er reist mit dem Fahrrad

(He’s traveling with his bike)

Important verbs followed by the preposition mit:

 ausrüsten 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)
 zusammenhängen mit
(to be related with)

 to, toward (LOCATIVE)

Sie geht nach Berlin

(She’s going to Berlin)

- nach is used for cities or countries that don’t have an


- Expression: nach Hause ([I’m going] home)


nach links
(to the left)

 after (TEMPORAL)

Sie studiert nach der Arbeit

(She studies after work)

Main article: preposition nach

 since (TEMPORAL)

Besucher seit 2008

(visitors since 2008)


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)
 abhängen von
(to depend on)
 ablassen von
(to desist from)
 abschreiben von
(to copy from)
 abweichen von
(to deviate from)
 entbinden von
(to absolve from)
 zurücktreten 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)

 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 Fuß
(He’s coming on foot)

Übergang zu der Demokratie

(Transition to democracy)


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
 außerhalb
 dank
 statt
 während
 wegen

 instead of

Ich will anstatt der Pommes lieber mehr Salat

(I want more salad instead of French fries)

 due to, based on

Diskriminierung aufgrund des Glaubens

(Discrimination due to beliefs)

 outside of, out of

Außerhalb des Bereichs

(Out of the area)

 thanks to

Dank deines Tipps hat es geklappt

(It worked thanks to your tip)
 instead of

Sie gab ihren Schmuck statt des Gelds

(She gave her jewelry instead of the money)

 during

Während des Jahres 2008

(During 2008)

 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 "Wechselpräpositionen". They are accusative
if they indicate movement and dative if they indicate a state (of

 an
 auf
 hinter
 in
 neben
 über
 unter
 vor
 zwischen

There are some verbs that always indicate movement and other
that always indicate a state of rest.

Verbs of movement Verbs of state

(regular and transitive) (irregular and

 stellen (to place vertically)  stehen (to stand)

 legen (to place  liegen (to be lying
horizontally) down)
 setzen (to set, sit)  sitzen (to be seated)
 hängen (to hang)  hängen (to be hung)

 on, in, next to

Wenn ich an deiner Stelle wäre, würde ich ...

(If I were in your position, I would...)


Am Sonntag
(On Sunday)

Am Abend
(in the evening)

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

Main Article: preposition 'an'

 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)
 anstoßen 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)
 zuschießen auf
(to hurdle toward)

Main article: preposition auf

 behind

Gehen Sie bitte hinter das Haus

(Please go behind the house)

 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

 next to, near
 over, about, on top of (but without contact)

Important verbs followed by the preposition "über":

 nachdenken über
(to think about)
 reden über
(to talk about)

 under

Die Ente liegt unter dem Tisch

(The duck is under the table)

 in front of

Sie wartet vor der Schule

(She is waiting in front of the school)

 ago

Ich bin vor vier Jahren nach Deutschland

(I arrived in Germany four years ago)
 between

Ein Vertrag zwischen Vatikan und der Freien und

Hansestadt Hamburg
(A contract between the Vatican and the free and
Hanseatic city of Hamburg)

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