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'at' in German


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Hey everyone, I'm just starting to learn German on my own.

I'm getting a bit confused. There are several ways to say 'at' and I'm not sure when to use which one.

For example

"I am at the football"

But I'm not sure whether to use bei, an, auf, in, zu, um

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  • 1 month later...

Prepositions in German, are way too complicated to explain. This is one of my biggest challenges when I was starting to learn the language. In order to categorize them you really have to be familiar with the different group of prepositions and the german dative, accusative pronouns, oh yes, and ofcourse the article. 

Regarding to your question: The technique I use is to actually know whether the sentence tells me a "position" or a "movement". 

I am at the football - indicates only a position, there is no movement. so the translation would be:

Ich bin auf dem Fussballplatz.

but if your sentence is: 

I go to the football field - indicates movement - you are going from A to B (example from your house to the football field), so it would be;

Ich gehe in dem Fussballplatz



Edited by multilingo
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Dear Multilingo

The first sentence you provided is absolutely correct ('Ich bin auf dem Fussballplatz). However, the second sentence (Ich gehe in dem Fussballplatz) is wrong. It should be 'Ich gehe auf den Fussballplatz' Why not dem? Well, the control question is: Auf wen oder was gehe ich (Accusative), ich gehe auf den Fussballplatz. Hope that helps. 


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Hi linguaholic,

First thank you for correcting me on this. This made me double check it again and asked about it.. but it made me now a little bit more confused - so, first you were right by the latter - Ich gehe in dem Fussball Platz - is not right. However, I have found out that if you say though - Ich gehe auf den Fussballplatz - this changes the whole meaning of the sentence, thus, this sentence would mean then that you are typically going to go there but you would typically play the sports then. But if you are only going there without the intention to play or anything - The right sentence would be then - Ich gehe zu dem Fussballplatz. 

Would you agree on this? I would appreciate your clarification :-)


Edited by multilingo
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I do agree. 'Ich gehe auf den Fussballplatz' is definitely more specific and it is very likely that you are actually going to play football. However, if you are saying 'Ich gehe zu dem Fussballplatz', it could still be that you are actually playing but it is definitely less likely. Moreover, in colloquial speech, you would say zum instead of zu dem --> zum is a merger of zu and dem.


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