Simply put, a preposition is a word which shows the relationship between two nouns or pronouns. There are several categories of preposition in German whose usage is governed by certain laid down rules which are listed below;

Rules for the usage of prepositions in German

  • They alway stay between the nouns or pronouns they are relating in the sentence.
  • They condition the grammatical case of the next noun or pronoun directly after them to be the case of that preposition.

Types/ categories of preposition

  • Akkusativ prepositions
  • Dativ prepositions
  • Genitiv prepositions
  • Two case prepositions

Akkusativ prepositions

These are prepositions that conditions the case directly after them to be Akkusativ. In other words, apart from having an Akkusativ in a sentence which is as a result of it being a direct object, we can as well have it as a result of preposition. The Akkusativ prepositions are;

GermanEnglish
für
ohne
gegen
bis
um
durch
for/ in favor of
without
against
till
around
through
Akkusativ präposition

Illustration;

  • The women are in favor of the man.—— die Frauen sind für den Mann.
  • I drove through the tunnel.—— ich bin durch den Tunnel gefahren.
  • She is traveling without her pet.—— sie reist ohne ihr Haustier.
  • Why are you fighting against me?—— warum kämpfst du gegen mich?

Dativ prepositions

These prepositions condition the case directly after them to be Dativ. They are;

GermanEnglish
gegenüber
nach
zu
bei
mit
ab
von
aus
seit
außer
opposite
after/ to
to/ at
with/ at/ near
with
from
from/ of
out/ out of
since
except/ apart from
Dativ Präposition

Illustration;

  • I live with my grandma.—— ich wohne bei meiner Oma 👵.
  • Jane comes from Mexico.—— Jane kommt aus Mexico.
  • They bought flowers for everyone except me.—— sie haben allen außer mir Blumen gekauft.
  • How did you go to Berlin.—— wie bist du nach Berlin gefahren

Genitiv prepositions

Just like other prepositions, Genitiv prepositions conditions the case after them to be Genitiv. Examples are;

GermanEnglish
innerhalb
außerhalb
zugunsten
wegen
trotz
während
statt/ anstatt
aufgrund
within/ inside (of)
outside (of)
in support/favor of
because of
despite /in spite of
during/ throughout
instead (of)
as a result of
Genetiv Präposition

Illustration;

  • Frank bought a shirt instead of shoes.—— Frank hat ein Hemd anstatt Schuhe gekauft.
  • The route is closed because of construction work.—— die Linie ist wegen Bauarbeiten geschlossen.
  • I visited the Eifel tower during the holiday.—— ich habe den Eifel-Turm während des Urlaubs besichtigt.
  • Despite the rain, we could still go shopping.—— trotz des Regens konnten wir noch einkaufen gehen

Two case prepositions

These are prepositions that have dual characteristics. They are sometimes Akkusativ and other times Dativ. When movement or motion is intended from point A to point B in the sentence, they are Akkusativ but when motion is not intended, they rather become Dativ. The prepositions are;

GermanEnglish
auf
in
an
neben
hinter
zwischen
vor
unter
über
in/ on
in/ to / into
at/ on
near/ next to
behind
(in) between
before/ in front of / ago
under / underneath
over/ across/ above
Two-case Preposition

Illustration;

  • The book 📕 is on the table.—— das Buch ist auf dem Tisch. (Dativ/horizontal)
  • The book is on the table.—— das Buch ist an dem/am Tisch. (Dativ/vertical -probably resting on its stand/leg.
  • I am putting the pen on the table.—— ich stelle den Kugelschreiber auf den Tisch. (Akkusativ/ horizontal)
  • The clock is hanging on the wall.—— die Glocke hängt an der Wand. (Dativ/ vertical)
  • I am hanging the clock on the wall.—— ich hänge die Glocke an die Wand.(Akkusativ/ vertical)
  • I am putting the pen on the table.—— ich stelle den Kugelschreiber auf den Tisch. (Akkusativ/ vertical -probably at the edge hanging downwards)
  • The cat is under the bed.—— die Katze ist unter dem Bett. (Dativ)
  • The cat ran under the bed.—— die Katze ist unter das Bett gerannt. (Akkusativ)

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