A preposition is used with a noun and describes the noun’s relationship to another element in a sentence or clause. This relationship can describe location, direction or time. Prepositions are important little words that add essential details, but they can be hard to master as languages use their prepositions in different ways.
For example, German uses the preposition “mit” to express which type of transport somebody is using. In English, this is expressed using the preposition “by”.
|Ich fahre mit dem Zug.||I go by train.|
Another example is the preposition “to”. German uses three different prepositions, “nach”, “in” and “zu”.
|Nächstes Jahr werde ich nach Deutschland fahren.||Next year I will go to Germany.|
|Am Wochenende fahre ich gern in die Stadt.||On weekends I like going to the city.|
|Ich fahre jeden Tag mit dem Fahrrad zur Schule.||I ride my bike to school every day.|
These examples illustrate that prepositions should be learned with examples of their use in different contexts.
An added difficulty in German is the fact that prepositions are used with different cases. Some are used with one case only.
|bis – until; durch – through; für – for; entlang – along; gegen – agains; ohne – without; um – at/around|
|aus – from/out of; außer – except for/besides; bei – at/near; gegenüber – across/opposite; mit – with/by; nach – to/after; seit – since (time)/for; von – by/from; zu – to/at|
Other prepositions are used with different cases depending on the relationship they are describing. These are called “Wechselpräpositionen” (changing prepositions). See the picture below for the different groups of prepositions. There are also prepositions that require the genitive case but they are not discussed here.
Click on the picture to enlarge it.
To practise using prepositions go to the page: