Types of Prepositions
Dative or Accusative
"Da-" and "Wo-"

Special Uses of

Other Related Topics

The Nominative Case

The Accusative Case

The Dative Case

The Genitive Case

Adjectival Nouns

Adjective Endings

Time Expressions

Grammar Review Home

Dartmouth German
    Studies Department

  Cell Phone Repair Service for small repairs. Bring it in to the booth in the morning (before 9) and pick it up (after 3) on the same day in the afternoon. Or visit us in the Nokia Shop Berlin at Hauptstrasse 80a in Friedenau and have your phone repaired immediately.

Prepositions in English:

  Please exit your car, ring (the bell) to the left of the door and announce yourself to the porter over the intercom.

Prepositions in German:

Accusative Prepositions:

Dative Prepositions:


  Helene Jacobs, the resistance fighter against National Socialism, lived in this house from 1935 up until her death. She hid Jews in her apartment and helped them to escape. She was sentenced by the Nazi courts to two-and-a-half years in prison.

"da-" and "wo-" Compounds:

  After a couple of beers you can change the world. But what for? [Why bother?]

"Wo-" used as a relative pronoun:

Genitive Prepositions:

Two-Way Prepositions:

  Please put your utensils next to your plate.

Examples of such two-way prepositions with the accusative:

  We ask you to leave your drinking glasses on the trays. Thanks.

Examples of two-way prepositions with the dative:

When these two-way prepositions are part of time expressions, rather than defining space, they usually take the dative. The exceptions are "auf" and "über":

Am Montag machen wir die Wäsche.   We do the laundry on Monday.
In der Nacht sind alle Katzen grau. At night all cats are grey [Any port in a storm]. 
Er soll unter einer Stunde reden.   He's supposed to talk under an hour.
Vor jedem Essen trinken wir ein Glas Portwein.   We drink a glass of port before each meal. 
Vor einem Jahr hat sie kein Deutsch gekonnt. A year ago she couldn't speak any German. 
Er geht auf (für) ein Jahr nach Mainz.   He's going to Mainz for a year.
Der Vortrag hat über eine Stunde gedauert.   The talk lasted over an hour.
Was machst du übers Wochenende? What're you doing over the weekend? 

Some special uses of prepositions:

"ab" (with the dative):

Verbs that use "an" (with the accusative):

Verbs that use "an" (with the dative):

Adjectives or noun phrases associated with "an" plus the dative:

  Prepared for everything? Diarrhea ills? Bug spray? Hot-watter bottle?
Thought of everything? Window closed? Fiffi [traditional poodle's name]? Water faucet?

Verbs that use "auf" (with the accusative):

  In the interest of the Mensa visitors and for reasons of hygiene, we request that the distribution of leaflets in the Mensa be dispensed with.

Adjectives and nouns that use "auf" with the accusative:

Verbs that use "auf" (with the dative):

Some verbs that use "aus":

Some adjectives and nouns associated with "aus":

Some adjectives and nouns that use "außer":

Verbs that use "bei":

Uses of "bei" with adjectives and nouns:

Using "bei" with nominalized verbs:

Using "durch" to denote the instrument in the passive voice:

Verbs that use "für":

Some other uses of "für":

Some uses of "gegen":

Some uses of "gegenüber":

Expressions with "hinter" (with the dative):

Verbs that take "in" (with the accusative):

Verbs that take "in" (with the dative):

Verbs that take "mit":

Other expressions with the preposition "mit":

Verbs that take "nach":

  The Pursuit of Happiness

Verbs of perception with "nach":

Some other expressions with "nach":

The expression "nicht ganz ohne":


Verbs that take "über" (with the accusative) to mean "about":

A few other expressions with "über" (with the accusative):

Verbs associated with "um":

Some uses of "um" with nouns:

Expressions with "unter" (with the dative):

Unter diesen Leuten gibt es viele Ausländer. There are lots of foreigners among these people.
Unter diesen Bedingungen bin ich bereit, es zu tun. Under these conditions I'm ready to do it.
Sie führen das Gespräch unter vier Augen. They're having the conversation tête-à-tête.
Weil wir jetzt unter uns sind, können wir darüber reden.   Now that we're among ourselves we can talk about it.

Verbs with "von":

abhalten von [to prevent from]
Nichts kann mich davon abhalten. Nothing can stop me from doing that.

abhängen von [to depend on]
Das hängt vom Wetter ab. That depends on the weather.

abraten von [to advise against]
Ich würde Sie von diesem Schritt abraten. I would advise you not to take this step.

befreien von [to liberate from]
Er wurde vom Gefängnis befreit. He was freed from prison.

berichten von [to report on]
Sie berichtete von ihrer Reise. She reported on her trip.

sich erholen von [to recover from]
Haben Sie sich von Ihrer Reise erholt? Have you recovered from your trip?

erzählen von [to tell about]
Erzählen Sie uns von Ihrer Mutter! Tell us about your mother!

halten von [to think of / to have an opinion about]
Was hält deine Mutter von deinem neuen Freund? What does your mother think of your new friend?

handeln von [to be about]
Der Film handelt von zwei Ganoven in der Nachkriegszeit.   The film is about two crooks in the post-war period.

reden / sprechen von [to talk about]
Wovon redet ihr?   What are you talking about? [What's the topic?]

sich unterscheiden von [to be different from]
Das neue System unterscheidet sich kaum vom alten.   The new system is hardly different from the old one.

verstehen von [to understand about]
Verstehst du etwas von diesem Gerät?   Do you understand anything about this device?

wissen von [to know about]
Niemand weiß von diesem Mann.   Nobody knows about this man.

Using "von" as an alternative to the genitive case:

Der Wagen von meiner Mutter ist besonders schnell.   My mother's car is especially fast.
Das Benehmen von ihrem Bruder ist unter aller Kanone.   Her brother's behavior is beneath contempt.

Using "von" to identify the agent in the passive voice:

Some other expressions with "von":

"vor sich hin-" (with the accusative):

Verbs that take "vor" (with the dative):

Other expressions that use "vor" (with the dative):

Verbs that take "zu":

  To the Apes

Other expressions with the preposition "zu":


1 Somewhat less common are "à", "gen", "per", "pro", "sonder", "via". "Entlang" can also take the dative.
back to text 1

2 Less common are "binnen", "dank", "gemäß", "längs", "mitsamt", "nächst", "nebst", "ob", "samt", "zufolge", "zunächst", "zuwider".
back to text 2

3 Some other, less common prepositions that officially take the genitive but in practice are often used with the dative: "laut" [according to], "unweit" [not far from], and "jenseits" [on the other side of].
back to text 3

4 George O. Curme's Grammar of the German Language (New York: Macmillan, 1922) lists a total of 123 prepositions that take the genitive (p. 357), but most are very rare or confined to legal language. They include "anlässlich" [on the occasion of], "angesichts" [in the face of; in view of], "betreffs" [regarding; in reference to], "infolge" [as a result of; owing to], "ungeachtet" [despite; notwithstanding], etc.
back to text 4

5 Some textbooks characterize this distinction as being between verbs of motion and those of rest — but that is misleading. Admittedly, when no action is denoted, the dative is called for:

Der Hund liegt unter dem Bett.   The dog is lying under the bed.
Sie schläft meistens auf der Couch.   She mostly sleeps on the couch.

But even verbs that indicate motion take the dative when that motion remains within the area that the preposition defines.

Wir wandern gern im Wald.   We like to hike in the woods.
Die Kinder toben im Keller herum.   The children are romping around in the basement.

Hence the distinction between:

Er fliegt über die Stadt.   He flies over the city.
Er fliegt über der Stadt.   He flies above the city.

back to text 5