German Prepositions of Place – Lokale Präpositionen – Part 2: Two-Way and Genitive

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German Prepositions of Place - Lokale Präpositionen

In this post, we continue to look at the German prepositions of place. The focus will be on the genitive and two-way prepositions.

(If you missed it, the last post was on the dative and accusative prepositions of place. Previously, we also looked at prepositions of time.)


All two-way prepositions can answer one of the questions Wo?, Wohin?, and Woher? depending on the context, and so the case can still vary.

This is unlike when they are used as temporal prepositions. In that case, they take one case (most are dative).

The accusative corresponds to the question Wohin? and Woher?. There is movement indicated.

The dative corresponds to the question Wo?, where there is no movement.

More on two-way prepositions was covered in a previous post.


Translation: on (vertical surface)

Indicates: Contact with a vertical surface.


  • Dative: An der Wand hängt das Bild. (The picture hangs on the wall.)
  • Accusative: Ich hänge das Bild an die Wand. (I hang the picture on the wall.)



Translation: on (horizontal surface)

Indicates: Contact with a horizontal surface.


  • Dative: Der Bleistift liegt auf dem Tisch. (The pencil is on the table.)
  • Accusative: Katja legt den Bleistift auf den Tisch. (Katja puts the pencil on the table.)

Note: Where German uses auf (‘on’), English may use ‘in: Die Kinder spielen auf dem Spielplatz. (The children play in the playground.)



Translation: behind

Indicates: Contact with a horizontal surface.


  • Dative: Die Lampe steht hinter dem Spiegel. (The lamp is behind the mirror.)
  • Accusative: Dennis stellt die Lampe hinter das Spiegel. (Dennis places the lamp behind the mirror.)



Translation: in, into

Indicates: Going inside or being inside a particular place. (This differentiates it from zu, which does not necessarily convey the meaning of going inside.)


  • Dative: Ich bin in der Bäckerei. (I am in the bakery.)
  • Accusative: Ich gehe in die Bäckerei. (I go to the bakery.)
    • This has the idea of going inside the bakery, almost like “I go into the bakery.”

Note: Where German uses in (‘in’), English may use ‘on: Ich bin im (in + dem) Bus. (I am on the bus.)



Translation: next to

Indicates: A position beside another.


  • Dative: Das Bett ist neben dem Fenster. (The bed is next to the window.)
  • Accusative: Leon stellt das Bett neben das Fenster. (Leon puts the bed next to the window.)



Translation: over, above

Indicates: A position above another.


  • Dative: Die Lampe hängt über dem Teppich. (The lamp hangs above the rug.)
  • Accusative: Andreas fährt über die Brücke. (Andreas drives over the bridge.)



Translation: under, below

Indicates: A position below another.


  • Dative: Leon sitzt unter einem Baum. (Leon sits under a tree.)
  • Accusative: Yvonne legt den Teppich unter den Tisch. (Yvonne lay the carpet under the table.)



Translation: in front of

Indicates: A position in front of another.


  • Dative: Steffen wartet vor dem Gebäude. (Steffen waits in front of the building.)
  • Accusative: Ihr sollt eure Perlen nicht vor die Säue werfen. (Do not cast your pearls before swine.)



Translation: between

Indicates: A position in between two others.


  • Dative: Der Ozean ist zwischen den Kontinenten. (The ocean is between the continents.)
  • Accusative: Matthias stellt den Stuhl zwischen mich und den Tisch. (Matthias puts the chair between me and the table.)




Translation: outside

Answers the question: Wo?

Indicates: Something outside a location.

Example: Sie wohnen außerhalb der Stadt. (They live outside the city.)



Translation: inside

Answers the question: Wo?

Indicates: Something inside or within a location.

Example: Sie wohnen innerhalb der Stadt. (They live inside the city.)

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