Question about uses of dative and accusative with two way prepositions

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Senior Member
English - England
Hi, I thought I had completely grasped the difference between the two-way prepositions... But then I remembered that when talking about going to a specific place, you use the dative with 'zu'... E.g.

Ich werde zum Bahnhof fahren.

The rule I was taught was that the accusative was used when there was movement involved, and the dative when there is not... But I don't get how that doesn't count as movement? So can anybody please explain why the dative (dem) was used here rather than the accusative (den).

Danke im Voraus :)
  • Mozzerfan99

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Ok, I just realised that zu is not actually a two way preposition... Oh. Not sure how to delete the thread...

    Although if anybody has any insight on why zu just takes the dative, that would be interesting to hear...


    Senior Member
    Please note that there is not only 'zu'. Also nach, which is a typical particle of movement (besides being temporal) only governs the dative case: for ex. ich gehe nach Hause..
    These are just one-case/one-way prepositions, and the case does not depend on the meaning. The use of cases after prepositions is not simple in German (e.g. 'on this subject' = über dieses Thema / zu diesem Thema..).


    Senior Member
    Hi, the main problem is that movement alone is an explanation with many exceptions.

    If you consider movement to a goal in the rule of thumb it becomes much more clear.

    Ich fahre in die Schule. (in die with accusative -> goal (into)
    Ich laufe in der Schule. (in der with dative -> place (in)

    But there are exceptions, too. And one of them is "zu". "Zu" always requires dative.

    Duden | zu | Rechtschreibung, Bedeutung, Definition, Synonyme, Herkunft "Präposition mit Dativ"


    German (Germany)
    Although if anybody has any insight on why zu just takes the dative, that would be interesting to hear...
    It has always been a source of bafflement to me and I have never found an answer. I agree that the accusative, like e.g. the equivalent Latin preposition ad governs, would make much more sense.

    What we know is that the Slavic cognate da always commanded the genitive. Since already in proto-Germanic both locative and ablative had merged into the dative and in proto-Slavic only the ablative had merged into the genitive, it seems that the original preposition commanded the ablative whereas Wechselpräpositionen are rooted in a locative vs. accusative opposition. So, I assume the fact that zu takes the dative has to be explained along different lines and has nothing to do with the semantics of Wechselpräpositionen.
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