Prepositions – The Commonest Prepositions and their Usage

The Commonest German Prepositions

In German prepositions always take one of the cases accusative, dative or genitive and not the nominative. This means that the noun-phrase or pronoun right after the preposition is declined in one of these cases. Accusative and dative cases are the commonest after prepositions, genitive is much more rare.

In most cases it is not possible to guess which case to use after a certain preposition so their arguments have to be learnt.

The commonest prepositions with accusative:

für (for) – Ich lebe für dich (I live for you).

durch (through, across) – Wir gehen durch den Park (We go through the park).

bis (until) – Ich bleibe hier bis neun Uhr (I’m staying here until nine o’clock.)

ohne (without) – Ich trinke Kaffee ohne Zucker (I drink coffee without any sugar).

um (at a certain point of time, round, with) – Um den Tisch gibt es Stühle (Round the table there are some chairs).

gegen (against, towards) – Ich bin gegen fünf Uhr angekommen. (I arrived towards five o’clock).

The commonest prepositions with dative:

mit (with) – Komm mit mir! (Come with me.)

zu (to) – Komm zu mir! (Come to me.)

bei (at somebody’s home) – Viel Spaß bei uns! (Have a good time at our place/with us.)

nach (to, according to, after) – Wir sind nach einer Stunde angekommen. (We arrived after an hour.)

von (from; of) – Ich wohne weit von dem Stadtzentrum. (I live far from the centre of the town.)

aus (from, out of) – Ich komme aus der Schweiz. (I come from Switzerland.)

seit (since) – Ich sitze hier seit meiner Ankunft. (I have been sitting here since my arrival.)

ab (from, with the beginning of) – Ab heute rauche ich nicht. (From today I don’t smoke.)

außer (out of, with the exception of) – Außer mir lesen alle viel. (Everybody reads a lot except me.)


The commonest prepositions with the genitive:

während (during)

Während der Ferien waren wir am Bodensee (During the holiday we were at Bodensee).

trotz (despite, in spite of)

Trotz des Regens liefen wir (We were running in spite of the rain).

wegen (because of)

Wegen des schlechten Wetters blieb ich zu Hause (Because of the bad weather I stayed at home).

statt (instead of)

Statt des Hauses haben wir eine Wohnung gekauft (Instead of the house we bought a flat).

Prepositions and Articles

Some prepositions can be contracted with certain forms of the definite article. It is not obligatory but it is really widespread in the spoken language. For example, instead of in dem Hotel you can say im Hotel, zur Schule instead of zu der Schule.

German prepositions with articlesIn certain time expressions we always use the contracted forms: am Nachmittag (in the afternoon), im Winter (in winter)


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