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Discussion in 'Deutsch (German)' started by Zoltan, Feb 14, 2006.

  1. Zoltan Member

    Canada english
    Hi, I'm getting a little confused about the many ways to say "to".

    Can you pretty much say:

    Nach: to cities or countries
    zu: to people
    an: to somewhere close
    in: to a large place, "in die Stadt"
    auf: to an open-air place, "auf den Markt"

  2. elroy

    elroy Imperfect Mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Some comments:

  3. DaleC Senior Member

    "an: to somewhere close" Although I've seen this description elsewhere, I find this wording unhelpful. "An" refers to either position (being at, beside, or on) or motion (moving to a position at, beside, or on). (You can see it's cognate to 'on'.) 'An' means beside something without regard to relative spatial position, which differentiates it from 'in' and 'auf' (cognate to 'up'). 'Auf' means simultaneously beside and on top, and 'in' denotes going inside the object. The English word 'on' itself sometimes implies 'auf', sometimes' 'an'.

    Hence 'an' bodies of water, 'an' a beach, 'an' a windows and walls; but 'auf' pieces of ground (streets, islands, "the countryside". German thinking is "to beside" a beach, not "onto" a beach; and "onto a street", not "into" a street.

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