Chapter 6: Prepositions │ German Grammar

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German Prepositions in General

›Prepositions can‘t be changed and are never declined. Usually you find them in front of the nouns and pronouns they belong to.

›Using them is not so simple. Translation only helps sometimes because they are used differently than in English or other languages.

›You must learn which prepositions are used in which situations.

›Prepositions can be divided into different types: locative, modal, temporal, and causal.

›The preposition always determines the case of the noun that follows.

German Locative Prepositions

›Locative prepositions describe position or movement.

Question: Where? Where to? From where?

A: Wo bist du?“

B: „Ich bin vor dem Kino. Ich warte neben dem blauen Mercedes.”

The most commonly used locative prepositions are:an, auf, aus, bei, hinter, in, neben, von, vor, zu.

In the lectures 6.01. Locative Preposition and 6.01.1 Locative Two Way Preposition I explain all the different locative prepositions in more detail.

German Temporal Prepositions

›Temporal prepositions describes time. When did something happen? How long did it take?

›Temporal: ⇒ related to time

Question: When? How long?

A: Wann musst du arbeiten?“

B: „Ich muss von 8 bis 17 Uhr arbeiten.“

The most commonly used temporal prepositions are:an, ab, bis, gegen, in, nach, seit, um, von, vor.

In the lecture 6.02. Temporal Prepositions I explain all the different prepositions more in detail.

German Modal Prepositions

›Modal prepositions describe „how“ or „in what way“ something happened.

›Modal: ⇒ related to how/in what way something happened

Question: How?

A: Wie hast du das gemacht?“

B: Mit Hilfe von meinem Vater.“

The most commonly used modal prepositions are: auf, für, gegen, mit, ohne, statt.

German Causal Prepositions

›Causal prepositions describe the cause or result of an action. Why did it happen?

›Causal: ⇒ related to the cause or effect of an action

Question: Why?

A: Wieso musst heute länger arbeiten?“

B: Wegen der vielen kranken Kollegen.“

The most commonly used causal prepositions are: anlässlich, aufgrund, dank, trotz, ungeachtet, wegen, … zufolge.

German Prepositions with Articles

›Sometimes prepositions are combined with a definite article (der, die, das,…).

›For these preposition + article combinations, you should always form a contraction:

  • an + dem = am
  • an + das = ans
  • bei + dem = beim
  • in + dem = im
  • in + das = ins
  • von + dem = vom
  • zu + dem = zum
  • zu + der = zur

›For all two way prepositions (those that sometimes take two different cases) as well as „durch“, „um“, and „für“, just add the last letter of the definite article in informal speech. But, separated is grammatically correct!

  • auf + das = aufs
  • für + das = fürs
  • durch + das = durchs
  • um + das = ums
  • hinter + dem = hinterm
  • hinter + das = hinters
  • über + dem = überm
  • über + das = übers
  • vor + dem = vorm
  • vor + das = vors

Example:

  • „Ich gehe zum Bahnhof.“ ⇒ Grammatically correct.
  • „Ich gehe zu dem Bahnhof.“ ⇒ Grammatically incorrect.
  • Ich bin im Bahnhof.“ ⇒ Grammatically correct.
  • „Ich bin in dem Bahnhof.“ ⇒ Grammatically incorrect
  • „Ich gehe aufs Dach.“ ⇒ Informal speech
  • „Ich gehe auf das Dach.“ ⇒ Grammatically correct.
  • „Ich bin hinterm Haus.“ ⇒ Informal speech
  • „Ich bin hinter dem Haus.“ ⇒ Grammatically correct.

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