- Local Prepositions
- Contraction of a Preposition and an Article
Prepositions express relations. They usually appear before the noun or pronoun to which they refer. Together with their nouns, they describe when, why, how or where something happens. A preposition always determines one of the 4 German cases for their noun.
Ich studiere von Montag bis Freitag.
I study from Monday to Friday.
Rule 1: Prepositions of place and direction correspond to the questions Where? Where to? Where from?
Typically, they are used with the dative or accusative case.
Das Buch liegt auf dem Tisch.
The book is on the table.
Rule 2: As an answer to the question Wo? (where), these local prepositions always precede the person or place:
on, in, next to, at
on top, on (with contact)
next to, near to, in, with, at
next to, near
to (with countries or cities)
over, on top of (but without contact)
to (specifically named buildings or places and people)
in front of
Das Flugzeug flog über die Stadt.
The airplane flew over the city.
Bei or An?
Rule 3: These two prepositions are often mistaken by beginners. Here's how to differentiate them:
- bei is used in connection with a person, a profession (like a doctor or a lawyer), or a place of work.
Ich bin bei Alex.
I'm with Alex.
Ich bin beim Arzt.
I'm at the doctor.
- an is used as an answer to the question of where someone/something is located and means “on”, “next to”.
Er wohnt an der Grenze.
He lives on the border.
Contraction of a Preposition and an Article
Rule 4: Some prepositions can be combined with an article to create one single word:
- in + dem = im (in the)
- in + das = ins (in the)
- zu + dem = zum (to the)
- zu + der = zur (to the)
- bei + dem = beim (at the)
- von + dem = vom (from the)
- an + dem = am (at the)
Please note that this list is not complete.
Ich gehe zum Zoo.
I'm going to the zoo.