German Prepositions of Time – Temporale Präpositionen

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German Prepositions of Time - Temporale Präpositionen

In the last few posts, I have been discussing prepositions grouped according by case: dative, accusative, either, and genitive.

This post shall focus on German temporal prepositions. That is, prepositions that are used to indicate a point in time or a period of time.

All of these have been mentioned before in the previous posts, so there are no new prepositions to learn.

However, we will be looking at a different way of using these prepositions in relation to time.

To make things easier, I will still be grouping the prepositions based on their case.

However, it also makes sense to consider these prepositions based on whether they discuss a period of time or a point in time. We will look at this alternate categorisation in the last section.

 

Dative

Ab

Translation: from

Answers the question: Ab wann?

Describes: A period of time that begins in the present or in the future. (Identical to von… an.)

Example: Ab dem ersten Tag des Monats. (From the first day of the month.)

Note: Compare with seit, which is used for a time in the past.

 

An

Translation: at [Christmas], on [Monday], in [the evening]

Answers the question: Wann?

Describes: A point in time.

Examples:

  • An Weihnachten besuchen wir unsere Familie. (At Christmas we visit our family.)
  • Wir feiern am (an + dem) 25. Dezember die Geburt Jesu. (We celebrate the birth of Jesus on 25 December.)
  • Wir gehen am (an + dem) Abend ins Kino. (We go to the cinema in the evening.)

Note: Can be used with a specific date, day of the week, time of the day, or festival.

 

Aus

Translation: from

Answers the question: Wann?

Describes: A time origin.

Example: Diese Kirche ist aus dem 19. Jahrhundert. (This church is from the 19th century.)

 

Bei

Translation: while

Answers the question: Wann?

Describes: A period of time when something is being done simultaneously.

Example: Nicht reden beim (bei + dem) Essen! (Don’t talk while you eat!)

 

Nach

Translation: after

Answers the question: Wann?

Describes: A point in time after the specified event (opposite of vor).

Example: Wir sehen nach dem Abendessen fern. (We watch TV after dinner.)

 

In

Translation: in

Answers the question: Wann?

Describes: A point in time.

Example: Die Schüler gehen 5 Tage in der Woche zur Schule. (The students go to school 5 days [in] a week.)

 

Seit

Translation: since, for

Answers the question: Seit wann?

Describes: A period of time that began in the past and is still ongoing in the present.

Examples:

  • Es regnet seit gestern. (It has been raining since yesterday.)
  • Wir wohnen seit 20 Jahren in Deutschland. (We have been living in Germany for 20 years.)

 

Vor

Translation: before

Answers the question: Wann?

Describes: A point in time before the specified event (opposite of nach).

Example: Die Kinder spielen vor dem Unterricht. (The children play before the lesson.)

 

Von… an

Translation: from, starting on

Answers the question: Ab wann?

Describes: A period of time that begins in the present or in the future. (Identical to ab.)

Example: Vom 1. Juli an. (From 1 July.)

 

Von… bis

Translation: from… to

Answers the question: Wie lange? / Von wann bis wann?

Describes: A period of time with a specified beginning and end.

Example: Vom 5. bis zum 15. August. (From the 5th to the 15th of August.)

 

Zwischen

Translation: between

Answers the question: Wann?

Describes: A period of time as specified.

Example: Zwischen 6:00 und 7:00 Uhr. (Between 6.00 and 7.00am.)

 

Accusative

Für

Translation: for

Answers the question: Für wie lange?

Describes: A period of time in the future.

Example: Mein Freund will in den Sommerferien für zwei Monate reisen. (My friend wants to travel for two months during the summer holidays.)

 

Gegen

Translation: about

Answers the question: Wann? / Um wie viel Uhr?

Describes: An imprecise point in time.

Example: Es ist gegen 12 Uhr. (It is about 12 o’clock.)

 

Über

Translation: over

Answers the question: Wie lange?

Example:

  • Ich fahre übers (über + das) Wochenende weg. (I am going away over the weekend.)

Note: In some cases, über is interchangeable with mehr als or länger als.

Sentence with über

Sentence with mehr als or länger als.

English Translation

Das Gebäude ist über 20 Jahre alt.

Das Gebäude ist mehr als 20 Jahre alt.

The building is over/more than 20 years old.

Mein Bruder sucht schon über ein Jahr nach einem neuen Job.

Mein Bruder sucht schon länger als ein Jahr nach einem neuen Job.

My brother has been looking for a new job for over a year.

 

Um

Translation: at, around

Answers the question: Um wie viel Uhr? / Wann?

Describes: An exact hour of the day (when used with time), or an approximate date (when used with a year).

Examples:

  • Der Unterricht beginnt um 8:00 Uhr. (The class begins at 8.00am.)
  • Die politische Landkarte Mitteleuropas um 1800 war extrem uneinheitlich. (The political map of Central Europe was extremely uneven around 1800.)

 

Genitive

Außerhalb

Translation: outside

Answers the question: Wann?

Describes: A period of time.

Example: Außerhalb der Öffnungszeiten der Bank gibt es einen Kundenservice im Rahmen des Selbstbedienungsangebots. (Outside the bank’s opening hours, there is customer service in the form of a self-service offering.)

 

Innerhalb

Translation: in (the space of), within

Answers the question: Wann?

Describes: A period of time.

Examples:

  • Der Schnee ist innerhalb eines Tages geschmolzen. (The snow melted away in a day.)
  • Ich werde innerhalb der nächsten drei Tage antworten. (I will reply within the next three days.)

Note: Innerhalb von (+ dat) is also used rather commonly.

 

Während

Translation: during

Answers the question: Wann?

Describes: A period of time.

Example: Während des Semesters werden viele Partys organisiert. (During the semester, many parties are organised.)

That’s it for the prepositions of time. In the next post, we shall look at prepositions of place – lokale Präpositionen.


Note: For the months of February and March, there will be a new post every fortnight, instead of every week.