October 2016

Indirect questions in German

Spoken GermanDirect and indirect questions

Indirect questions are questions that are included within the structure of another sentence. They usually come after certain introductory phrases, such as the following.
Ich weiß nicht, …
Er fragt, …
Ich verstehe nicht, …
Sie möchte wissen, …
Ich sage dir nicht, …
Können Sie mir sagen, …?

Sentence Structure

The sentence structure of indirect questions differs from that of normal questions – in indirect questions, the finite verb is placed at the end of the sentence (question-word + subject + object + verb).
Wann hat er Zeit? – Ich weiß nicht, wann er Zeit hat.
Was hat sie gesagt? – Ich sage dir nicht, was sie gesagt hat.

Indirect Questions with ob

If there’s no question word, we use ob in the indirect question.
Kommt sie morgen? – Er fragt, ob sie morgen kommt.

Punctuation in Indirect Questions

In an indirect question, we normally use a full stop and not a question mark (see example above). The question mark is only used if the indirect question is an actual question.
Können Sie mir sagen, wie ich zum Bahnhof komme?
Indirect questions are formed in German with a complex clause formed by a main clause and a subordinate clause This is understood better with an example: A direct question would be:

Wann ist er geboren? When was he born?

The same question in an indirect form would be:

Wir wissen nicht, wann er geboren ist We don’t know when he was born

“wann er geboren ist” is the subordinate clause. Remember that subordinate clauses have very special rules: Verb at the end, with a comma separating the main clause.

Types of indirect questions

As we already had explained in the article interrogation in German, there are 2 types of interrogative clauses in German:
  • Yes or no questions (closed questions)
  • W-Fragen (opened questions)

Closed indirect questions

Closed indirect questions are formed with the conjunction ob:

Sie hat mich gefragt, ob er ledig ist She asked me if he’s single

Open Indirect questions

Open indirect questions can be formed with any interrogative particle:

Kannst du mir erklären, wo du gestern warst? Could you explain to me where you were yesterday?

Typical structures for indirect clauses

As an example, we’ll show you some structures commonly used in indirect clauses:

Er hat mich gefragt, ob/wann/… He asked me if/whether/when/…

Kannst du mir sagen, ob/wann/…? Can you tell me if/whether/when…?

Ich bin nicht sicher, ob/wann/… I’m not sure if/whether/when…


The Future in German (Futur I and Futur II)

German courses

The Future in German (Futur I and Futur II)

Futur I

Use of Futur I

Futur I in German is the same as the simple future in English, having 4 functions:
  • Expressing a future event

Es wird regnen It will rain

  • Expressing an intention
In many cases when Futur I is used with the first person (ich, wir), it reflects the intention of carrying out some action.

Ich werde morgen fliegen I will fly tomorrow

If we are sure that the action will be carried out, it is more correct to use the Präsens.

Er fliegt morgen He’s flying tomorrow

  • Giving an order (equivalent of the imperative)

Du wirst jetzt die Hausaufgaben machen You will do your chores now

  • Expressing an assumption about a present fact

Sie wird müde sein She is probably tired

German language classes

Conjugation of “Futur I”

The conjugation is very simple: Verb “werden” in the present + verb infinitive.

Verb werden in Präsens

Conjugation Meaning
ich werde arbeiten I will work
du wirst arbeiten you will work
er/sie/es wird arbeiten he will work
wir werden arbeiten we will work
ihr werdet arbeiten you will work (speaking to a group)
sie werden arbeiten they will work


Sie wird ein Auto kaufen She will buy a car

Wir werden unsterblich sein We will be immortal

The basic future tense in German is the Futur I; it’s formed with the present tense of the verbwerden  and the infinitive of the main verb. We do the same thing in English with will: Ich werde dort ein Hotel suchen. I will look for a hotel there. Ich werde das Geschirr spülen. I will do the dishes. [literally, spülen is more like “rinse”] To form the Futur II (future perfect), use werden + past participle + haben/sein. Again it’s similar in English: will have. The only difference is that, as always in German, the non-conjugated verbs move to the end of the clause: Wenn ihr ankommt werde ich ein Hotel gefunden haben. By the time you arrive, I will have found a hotel. Bis heute Abend werde ich das Geschirr gespült haben. By this evening, I will have done the dishes. In English we also have the more casual form “I’m going to…” to replace “I will…” This form does not exist in German, so don’t try to translate it literally: Ich gehe zu [verb] would not make sense. Just use werden instead.* The futuristic present (Futuristiches Präsens) refers to a tendency in both languages to use the present tense for future events. In English we do this in two main situations: when we have arranged to do something in the near future (“I’m going to the movies tomorrow”) and when referring to an action that will take place according to a fixed (usually printed) schedule or timetable (“The train leaves in half an hour”). German also uses the present tense for these situations: Meine Freundin besucht mich nächstes Wochenende. My girlfriend visits [is visiting] me next weekend. Der Zug fährt in 10 Minuten ab. The train departs in ten minutes. (Note that we often use the progressive aspect in these situations — “is visiting” — which doesn’t exist in German.) There are a few situations where German uses the futuristic present and English does not. The most important is an offer or promise to do something:
German (Präsens): Literal English (present): Correct English (future): Ich zahle es dir morgen zurück. I pay you back tomorrow. I’ll pay you back tomorrow. Ich hole dir eine Jacke. I get you a jacket. I’ll get you a jacket.
There’s another case where use of the present is optional: predictions or speculation. In the case of speculation, we usually use may/might/maybe in English, and German uses vielleicht(perhaps):
German (Präsens): German (Futur I): English (future): Morgen regnet es. Morgen wird es regnen. Tomorrow it will rain. Vielleicht gehe ich nächste Woche. Vielleicht werde ich nächste Woche gehen. I may go [Maybe I’ll go] next week.
*(To be more specific: the verb phrase “going to” in English usually means that a future event is already planned or expected (“I’m going to do my homework later”) rather than the announcement of a decision (“I’ll do my homework later”). In German, “going to” will often have werden, or possibly schon or noch. Ich werde meine Hausaufgaben später machen; Ich mache meine Hausaufgaben schon/noch. But an announcement is in the futuristic present: Ich mache mein Hausaufgaben später.)

 German Grammar – The Tenses

The Future Tense 2

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The future tense 2 is an infrequently used tense in German grammar. It is also not the simplest part of German grammar to form because you basically have to combine two grammatical time periods with each other. Sounds pretty complicated doesn’t it? That’s why I want to explain it to you in a simple, step-by-step manner. If you can grasp the principles and rules at the start, it won’t be so difficult when you come to use it. Finally, I will explain to you how and in which situations the future tense 2 is used. But first let’s talk about the formation of the tense:

Futur II

Use of Futur II

Futur II is the equivalent of the future perfect in English. It has 2 functions:
  • To express an event that will take place in the future

Er wird morgen angekommen sein He will have arrived tomorrow

  • To express an assumption from the past

Er wird schon angekommen sein He probably arrived already

Conjugation of “Futur II”

The conjugation: Verb “werden” in the present + Partizip II of the verb + “sein” or “haben”.


Er wird es bald geschafft haben He will have finished soon

Er wird wohl im Urlaub gewesen sein He probably is on vacation

Er wird sicher fertig gegessen haben He must have eaten already

The Formation of the Future Tense 2 (The future perfect)

In a moment we’ll reshape the example sentence „Ich baue ein Haus“ (I am building a house). As I already said, to do this we have to combine two different tenses with each other. In order to understand this a little bit better it’s perhaps wise to mention that in German the future tense 2 is also known as „vollendete Zukunft“. The word „vollendet“ suggests to us that a past tense form is somehow incorporated: specifically here, the past perfect. Our first step here is to put our example sentence into the past perfect. From there we will put it into the future tense 2. But first, here’s the example sentence in the perfect tense:
learn German perfect tense
In the diagram above you can see that the conjugated verb in the second position moves to the end of the sentence and is put into its past participle form (bauen=> gebaut). In the second position in the sentence you then put the auxiliary verb “haben” in its conjugated form (in this case “habe”). I have covered exactly how the perfect tense works in German in the corresponding site about the perfect tense. So after this first stage of putting the sentence into the perfect tense our example sentence looks like this:
Ich habe ein Haus gebaut. (I have built a house.)
The second step is to form the future tense using our perfect tense sentence. This sounds weird doesn’t it? This is how the simple rule goes:
german tenses future tense 2
And so below, you can see how this is done:
learn German tenses future 2
You have to make sure that the grammatically changed verb is in position 2 in the sentence. If the sentence is in the perfect tense, we have an auxiliary verb in position 2. In the example above we have the auxiliary verb “haben”. And this is exactly what we must do to reshape the sentence to be in the future tense. I have already explained the Rules for this in great detail. Just to remind ourselves: The conjugated verb in position 2 takes the infinitive form and is moved to the end of the sentence. In the newly empty position 2 you then put the conjugated form of the auxiliary verb “warden”. And we’re finished already! Here’s a realistic way that you might use our sentence: „Ich bin sicher: Im Alter von 40 Jahren werde ich ein Haus gebaut haben.“ (I am sure that at the age of 40 I will have built a house).


Because the future tense 2 is always formed using the perfect tense, you must make sure that you remember that not all verbs take the auxiliary verb “haben” in the perfect tense and that some use the verb “sein”. You can read about the verbs that use “sein” . The verb “reisen” (to travel) is an example of a verb that uses the auxiliary verb “sein”. With this information we can form the following sentence in the future tense 2: „Im Alter von 60 Jahren werde ich einmal um die Welt gereist sein!“ (By the time I’m 60 I will have travelled once around the world!) As you can see, the infinitive form of “haben” is not at the end of the sentence. Instead you have the infinitive form of “sein” because in the perfect tense “reisen” takes the auxiliary verb “sein”.(Read Present Perfect Tense for more info)

Usage of the Future Tense 2

The way that we use the future tense 2 is very similar to how we use the future tense 1, in that we use sentences like the examples above very infrequently. We would use sentences like the examples above when talking about our visions for the future or when we are predicting something. They often sound a bit dramatic:
  • In zwei Jahren werde ich endlich meine Ausbildung beendet haben! (In two years I will finally have finished my training!)
  • Wenn ich einmal in Pension gehe, werde ich gut vorgesorgt haben. (When I take my pension, I will have taken good precautions.)
It is much more likely that you will use the future 2 in combination with a negation such as “nicht, nichts or kein”. Namely, when we want to express a hope or a suggestion about something that has already happened. Here are some examples:
  • Er ist nun schon seit zwei Stunden weg, ich mache mir Sorgen! Ach was, es wird schon nichts passiert sein! (He has been away for two hours now. I’m worried! Ahh, nothing will have happened.)
  • Sie hatte heute Führerscheinprüfung und hat sich noch nicht gemeldet! Sie wird doch nicht durchgefallen sein! (She had her driving test today and has not reported back! She will not have failed though!)
  • Der kleine Junge ist heute so schüchtern. Er wird doch nichts Schlimmes angestellt haben! (The small boy is so shy today. He will not have done anything bad though!)
These three example sentences are very realistic. When we are worried that something might have happened, the future tense 2 provides us with the perfect way to express ourselves.
The future perfect expresses the assumption that an action will have been completed by the time of speaking, or by a particular point in the future.
  • Warum baut Matthias sein Fahrrad auseinander?
  • Er wird wohl gestürzt sein oder eine Panne gehabt haben.
  • Oh nein, wir wollen in einer Stunde eine Radtour machen.
  • Keine Angst! Bis dahin wird er das Fahrrad repariert haben.


  • Assumption about an action in the past
    Er wird wohl gestürzt sein.
    Er wird eine Panne gehabt haben.
  • Assumption that an action will have been completed by a certain point in the future (you always need an indication of the specific time here, so you know you’re talking about the future)
    Bis dahin wird er das Fahrrad repariert haben.

To Note:

We often strengthen assumptions by using words such as: wohl, sicher, bestimmt.
Er wird wohl gestürzt sein. Er wird wohl eine Panne gehabt haben.


We need the finite form of werden, the past participle of the full verb, and the auxiliary verbs sein/haben
person form of “werden” full verb + sein/haben
1st person singular (ich) ich werde gegangen sein aufgewacht sein gelesen haben gedacht haben
2nd person singular (du) du wirst
3rd person singular (er/sie/es/man) er wird
1st person plural (wir) wir werden
2nd person plural (ihr) ihr werdet
3rd person plural/polite form (sie/Sie) sie werden

Past Participle

weak/mixed verbs strong verbs
ge…t ge…en
gelernt gesehen

Exceptions in the Construction

  • Many strong and mixed verbs change their stem in the past participle.
    gehen – gegangen, bringen – gebracht
  • If the word stem ends in d/t, we add an et to weak and mixed verbs.
    warten – gewartet
  • Verbs that end in ieren form the past participle without ge.
    studieren – studiert
  • Inseparable verbs form the past participle without ge.
    verstehen – verstanden
  • With separable verbs, ge goes after the prefix.
    ankommen – angekommen

German tenses in use: Futur II

The Futur II is used on different occasions.
a) You use Futur II to refer to actions that will take place in the future and that will have been completed in the future. You form sentences with the conjugated form of the auxiliary verb werden(will), the past form of the verb, and the unconjugated form the auxiliary haben (to have) or sein (to be).
Singular Plural
1st person ich werde(I will) wir werden(we will)
2ndperson du wirst / Sie werden(you will) ihr werdet / Sie werden(you will)
3rdperson er/sie/es wird(he/she/it will) Sie werden(they will)
1) Morgen werde ich schon mit ihm gesprochen haben. (I will have talked with him by tomorrow.) 2. Bald wird sie es geschafft haben. (Soon, she will have made it.) 3) Heute in einem Jahr werden wir schon unseren Urlaub in Australien verbracht haben. (A year from today we will already have had our vacation in Australia.) 4) In zwei Wochen werden wir die Prüfungen geschrieben haben. (In two weeks we will have written the tests.) b) You can use the Futur II in order to express the assumption that an action of the past has been completed. In such statements, the past has to be stressed by using adverbs that refer to the past, like: gestern (yesterday), vor zwei Wochen (two weeks ago), vergangenes Jahr (last year), etc. 5) Sie wird gestern in München angekommen sein. [Wahrscheinlich ist sie gestern in München angekommen.] (She will have arrived in Munich yesterday.) [Probably she arrived in Munich yesterday.] 6) Er wird ihr das Geschenk vor einer Woche gegeben haben. [Wahrscheinlich hat er ihr das Geschenk vor einer Woche gegeben.] (He will have given her the present a week ago.) [Probably he has given her the present a week ago.] c) The Futur II can also be replaced by the Perfekt, when the future is displayed with adverbs of time, for example, morgen (tomorrow), bald (soon), nachher (later), etc. 7) Morgen um diese Zeit werden wir in Köln angekommen sein. (At this time tomorrow we will have arrived in Cologne.) 8) Bald werden wir es geschafft haben. (Soon we will have made it.) 9) In einer Stunde werden wir unser Ziel erreicht haben. (In one hour we will have reached our aim.)

The Subjunctive II (Konjunktiv II) in German

Spoken German

The Subjunctive II (Konjunktiv II) in German

The subjunctive is used to express: Desire, dreams, fantasies or imaginary situations.

Use of “Konjunktiv II”

It is used to express:
  • desire, dreams, fantasies, imaginary situations

Was würden Sie machen, wenn Sie Bundeskanzler von Deutschland wären? What would you do if you were the President of Germany?

  • polite form for asking for something

Ich hätte gern eine Cola I’d like a Coca-Cola

  • indirect speech for when use of Konjunktiv I is ambiguous
to dream

Er meint er würde gut singen He thinks that he sings well

  • Recommendations or suggestions

Wenn ich an deiner Stelle wäre, würde ich ein gutes Buch kaufen If I were in your place, I’d buy a good book

  • With the German words “fast” or “beinahe” (both mean “almost”). When a situation is described that just barely did not take place.

die Frau wäre fast vom Pferd gefallen die Frau wäre beinahe vom Pferd gefallen The woman almost fell from the horse

Original form of the Subjunctive II (Konjunktiv II)

The original “Konjunktiv II” form is used for auxiliary verbs, for modal verbs and some irregular verbs. The reason is that for regular verbs the “Konjunktiv II” is the same as the “Präteritum”, which is why the construction “würde” + infinitive is used to avoid confusion (this construction is sometimes called “Konjunktiv III”).
sein haben werden
ich wäre hätte würde
du wärst wärest hättest würdest
er/sie/es wäre hätte würde
wir wären hätten würden
ihr wärt wäret hättet würdet
sie wären hätten würden
dürfen können mögen müssen sollen wollen
ich dürfte könnte möchte müsste sollte wollte
du dürftest könntest möchtest müsstest solltest wolltest
er/sie/es dürfte könnte möchte müsste sollte wollte
wir dürften könnten möchten müssten sollten wollten
ihr dürftet könntet möchtet müsstet solltet wolltet
sie dürften könnten möchten müssten sollten wollten

Was möchtest du tun? What would you like to do?

Other verbs that use the original Konjunktiv II form

The original Konjunktiv II form is used with very few verbs. The most important ones are: Important note: The Konjunktiv II expresses the PRESENT.
Verb Konjunktiv II
brauchen (to need) ich bräuchte
bringen (to bring) ich brächte
denken (to think) ich dächte
finden (to find) ich fände
geben (to give) ich gäbe
gehen (to go) ich ginge
kommen (to come) ich käme
tun (to do) ich täte
wissen (to know) ich wüsste

Würde + Infinitive

Given that the original form of the Konjunktiv II is the same as the Präteritum for most verbs, the “würde” + infinitive construction is used often, which is called Konjuntiv III by some authors. NOTE 1: Würde + Infinitive expresses the present or future. NOTE 2: It is interesting that the Würde + Infinitive form is Futur I with the auxiliary verb werden conjugated in Konjuntiv II

Wenn ich an deiner Stelle wäre, würde ich Deutsch lernen If I were in your place, I would learn German

Pron. Conj. würde
ich würde singen
du würdest singen
er/sie/es würde singen
wir würden singen
ihr würdet singen
sie würden singen

Other Verb Tenses of Konjunktiv II

As we have seen, the Konjunktiv II is problematic in that it is not normally distinguishable from the Präteritumwhich is why the auxiliary verb werden is used to construct an alternative form (Würde + Infinitive). Indeed, the original Konjunktiv II form has another problem: It only expresses the present. The solution to this problem is to once again use an auxiliary verb.

Plusquamperfekt Konjunktiv II

Despite the name, this is just used to express the PAST and not the past perfect It is formed simply by conjugating the auxiliary verb ( haben or sein, depending on the verb) in Konjunktiv II Präteritum

Ich hätte dich geliebt wie keine andere I would have loved you like no other

Futur I Konjunktiv II

It is formed by conjugating werden in Konjunktiv II: würde + infinitive:

Ich würde in Zukunft gerne ein Auto haben In the future, I would like to have a car

Futur II Konjunktiv II

Just like Futur I, it is formed by conjugating werden in Konjuntiv II: würde + participle II + ( sein or haben):

Ich würde dieses Haus gekauft haben I would have bought this house


The Konjunktiv I in German (Direct&Indirect)

German Language Courses

Use of “Konjunktiv I”

Indirect speech

Konjunktiv I is used primarily for indirect speech. Indirect speech is when the narrator communicates what has been said by another person. You can see this more clearly with a couple of examples:

Hans: Ich bin 30 Jahre alt Hans: “I am 30 years old” (Direct speech)

Hans sagt, er sei 30 Jahre alt Hans says that he is 30 years old (Indirect speech)

Hans: Ich habe Durst Hans: “I’m thirsty” (Direct speech)

Hans sagt, dass er Durst habe Hans says that he’s thirsty (Indirect speech)

You can see that the clause with Konkunktiv I (“er habe Durst”) is accompanied by a main clause in the Indicative (“Hans sagt”).

The verbs used most often with indirect speech

  • erzählen (to narrate, to tell)
  • fragen (to ask)
  • hören (to hear)
  • lesen (to read)
  • sagen (to say, to tell)
  • vermuten (to assume, to suppose)
  • versprechen (to promise)

Indirect speech without “Konjunktiv I”

  • If you use the particle “dass”, it is correct if the subordinate clause is in the indicative instead of Konjunktiv I:
Konjunktiv I Correct Hans sagt, er sei 30 Jahre alt
Konjunktiv I + dass Correct Hans sagt, dass er Durst habe
Indikativ + dass Correct Hans sagt, dass er Durst hat
  • If the Konjunktiv I is the same in the Indikativ (something that happens quite often), usually theKonjunktiv II is used in place of Konjunktiv I for indirect speech.

Conjugation of “Konjunktiv I”

Konjunktiv I exists in the following verb tenses:
  • Präsens
  • Perfekt
  • Futur I
  • Futur II (rarely used)


Conjugation of regular verbs

As an example, let’s check out the verb malen (to paint):
Indikativ Konjunktiv I
ich mal -e mal -e
du mal -st mal -est
er/sie/es mal -t mal -e
wir mal -en mal -en
ihr mal -t mal -et
sie mal -en mal -en
You can see that the persons ich, wir and sie are the same as the Indikativ. Depending on the verb stem (for example, if the stem ends with -t, such as arbeiten), it is possible that the forms du and ihr also are the same as the indicative. For this reason, the only form that is always different is the 3rd person singular.

Conjugation of irregular verbs

Let’s look at the verb lesen (to read):
Indikativ Konjunktiv I
ich les-e les-e
du lies -t les -est
er/sie/es lies -t les -e
wir les-en les-en
ihr les-t les-et
sie les-en les-en
As a reminder, strong verbs were the ones that changed their stem in the 2nd and 3rd person singular forms in the present indicative. That stem change disappears in the subjunctive.

Conjugation of auxiliary verbs “sein” and “haben”

  • The conjugation of the Konjunktiv I of the verb sein has many peculiarities in its stem: Sei is the 1st and 3rd person singular form (with the “-e” ending)
  • The conjugation of haben for Konjuktiv I is regular.
sein haben
ich sei habe
du seist / seiest hab-est
er/sie/es sei hab-e
wir sei-en hab-en
ihr sei-et hab-et
sie sei-en hab-en


The Perfekt of “Konjunktiv I” is constructed like this: Verb sein or haben in the present of subjunctive I + Participle II.
Indikativ Konjunktiv I
ich habe gemalt habe gemalt
du hast gemalt habest gemalt
er/sie/es hat gemalt habe gemalt
wir haben gemalt haben gemalt
ihr habt gemalt habet gemalt
sie haben gemalt haben gemalt

Futur I

The conjugation of Futur I in “Konjunktiv I” is: The verb werden in the subjunctive I present + the infinitive.
Indikativ Konjunktiv I
ich werde malen werde malen
du wirst malen werdest malen
er/sie/es wird malen werde malen
wir werden malen werden malen
ihr werdet malen werdet malen
sie werden malen werden malen

Futur II

The conjugation of Futur II in Konjunktiv I is: Verb werden in subjunctive I present = Partizip II + the verb sein or haben in the infinitive. Futur II of Konjunktiv I exists but is not used.
Indikativ Konjunktiv I
ich werde gemalt haben werde gemalt haben
du wirst gemalt haben werdest gemalt haben
er/sie/es wird gemalt haben werde gemalt haben
wir werden gemalt haben werden gemalt haben
ihr werdet gemalt haben werdet gemalt haben
sie werden gemalt haben werden gemalt haben

Prepositions in German

Use of Prepositions in German

Prepositions in German

Use of Prepositions in German: Prepositions are used as a union between a noun, verb or adjective with another noun, verb, adjective or adverb. The use of one preposition determines the case used for nouns, articles, adjectives and pronouns.
Accusative Accusative/Dative     Dative Genitive
  • bis
  • durch
  • für
  • gegen
  • ohne
  • um
  • wider
an auf hinter in neben über unter vor zwischen
  • ab
  • aus
  • außer
  • bei
  • entgegen
  • entsprechend
  • mit
  • nach
  • seit
  • von
  • zu
  • anstatt
  • aufgrund
  • außerhalb
  • dank
  • statt
  • während
  • wegen

Prepositions with Accusative

  • bis
  • durch
  • für
  • gegen
  • ohne
  • um
  • wider


  • until (LOCATIVE or TEMPORAL)

    bis bald (see you soon)

    bis in den Tod

    von Kopf bis Fuß (from head to toe)


  • by means of, through (LOCATIVE)

    Eine Reise durch Deutschland (a trip through Germany)

    Wir fahren durch den Fluss (we are driving through the river)


10 [geteilt] durch 5 ist gleich 2 (10 divided by 5 is 2)

Used in the construction of the passive voice:

Google wird durch Werbung finanziert (Google is financed by advertisements)

Important verbs followed by the preposition durch:

waten durch (to wade through)


  • for (PURPOSE)

    sterben für dich (to die for you)

  • of (PURPOSE)

    Institut für Allgemeine Physik (Institute of General Physics)

Contractions: fürs (für + das) Important verbs followed by the preposition für:
  • abstellen für (to send to)
  • adaptieren für (to adapt to/for)
  • agitieren für (to campaign for)
  • Geld ausgeben für (to spend money for)
  • bürgen für (to vouch for)
  • einstehen für (to be responsible for something)
  • sich entscheiden für (to decide on)
  • entschuldigen für (to apologize for)
  • interessieren für (to be interested in)
  • sorgen für (to take care of something)
  • vertauschen für (to change for)


  • against (LOCAL)

    Kampf gegen den Krebs (the fight against cancer)

    gegen die Wand (against the wall)

  • toward, about, approximately (TEMPORAL)

    Er kommt gegen 9.00 ins Büro (He’s coming to the office at 9:00) [approximately]

Important verbs followed by the preposition gegen:
  • abdichten gegen (to seal against)
  • abhärten gegen (to strengthen against)
  • abschirmen gegen (to protect against)
  • agitieren gegen (to campaign against)
  • protestieren gegen (to protest against)


  • Welt ohne Krieg (a world without war)


  • at (TEMPORAL)

    um zehn Uhr (at ten o’clock)

    um ein Haar(very nearly)

  • at, around (LOCAL)

    um die Ecke (around the corner)

Important verbs followed by the preposition um:
  • bitten um (to ask for/ to request)
  • kümmern um (to care for)


  • against

    Er handelt wider das Gesetz (He is acting against the law)

    Wider Erwarten kam der Gast doch noch (Against all expectations, the guest arrived)

Prepositions with Dative

  • ab
  • aus
  • außer
  • bei
  • entgegen
  • entsprechend
  • mit
  • nach
  • seit
  • von
  • zu


  • starting at/on (TIME)

    ab dem 24. Februar (starting on the 24th of February)

  • from (PLACE, ORIGIN)

    Wir fliegen ab Köln (we fly from Cologne)


  • from (PLACE, origin)

    Wein aus Italien (Wine from Italy)

    Ich komme aus Spanien (I come from Spain)

    Wir kommen aus der Stadt (We come from the city)

  • from, out of (MATERIAL)

    Tisch aus Holz (Table out of wood)

Important verbs followed by the preposition aus:
  • auswählen aus (select from)
  • bestehen aus (consists of, to be composed of)
  • ableiten aus (to derive from)
  • kommen aus (to come from)
  • vertreiben aus (to expel from)


  • without

    Außer der Liebe nichts (Nothing else besides love)

    Wir sprechen alles außer Hochdeutsch (We speak everything except high German)

  • (expressions)

    außer Betrieb (out of service)


  • next to, near to (PLACE)

    Die Schule ist bei der Apotheke (the school is next to the pharmacy)

  • in, with, at

    Ich arbeite bei Porsche (I work at Porsche)

    bei Montage (during assembly)

Contractions: beim (bei + dem) Main article: preposition bei


  • against, contrary to

    entgegen allen Erwartungen (contrary to all expectations)

  • (expressions)

    entgegen dem Uhrzeigersinn (counter-clockwise)


  • according to

    entsprechend dieser Regel (according to this rule)

    den Umständen entsprechend (according to the circumstances)


  • with (MODAL)

    Spiel mit mir (Play with me)

    Er reist mit dem Fahrrad (He’s traveling with his bike)

Important verbs followed by the preposition mit:
  • ausrüsten mit (to equip with)
  • beginnen mit (to begin with)
  • eindecken mit (to supply with)
  • hantieren mit (to be busy with, to temper with)
  • multiplizieren mit (to multiply by)
  • protzen mit (to make a show of)
  • rechnen mit (to count on, reckon)
  • reden mit (to talk with)
  • sprechen mit (to speak with)
  • teilen mit (to share with)
  • sich treffen mit (to meet with)
  • zusammenhängen mit (to be related with)


  • to, toward (LOCATIVE)

    Sie geht nach Berlin (She’s going to Berlin)

    nach is used for cities or countries that don’t have an article – Expression: nach Hause ([I’m going] home)
  • to (LOCATIVE)

    nach links (to the left)

  • after (TEMPORAL)

    Sie studiert nach der Arbeit (She studies after work)

Main article: preposition nach


  • since (TEMPORAL)

    Besucher seit 2008 (visitors since 2008)



    das Lied von der Erde (the song from the Earth)

Contractions: vom (von + dem) Important verbs followed by the preposition von:
  • abbringen von (to dissuade from)
  • abhängen von (to depend on)
  • ablassen von (to desist from)
  • abschreiben von (to copy from)
  • abweichen von (to deviate from)
  • entbinden von (to absolve from)
  • zurücktreten von (to resign from/ to back out of)
Used in the construction of the passive voice:

Google wurde von 2 Mathematikern gemacht (Google was made by 2 mathematicians)


  • towards

    er kommt zu mir (he is coming to me)

    “Zu” is used with the meaning of to – when we are heading to a person or a specific place (with a name)
  • on, at, to

    Er kommt zu Fuß (He’s coming on foot)

    Übergang zu der Demokratie (Transition to democracy)


    Ich bleibe zu Hause (I stay at home)

    Der Weg zum Meer (The way to the sea)

    Informationen zu Italien (Information on Italy)

Contractions: zum (zu + dem), zur (zu + der)

Prepositions with Genitive

  • anstatt
  • aufgrund
  • außerhalb
  • dank
  • statt
  • während
  • wegen


  • instead of

    Ich will anstatt der Pommes lieber mehr Salat (I want more salad instead of French fries)


  • due to, based on

    Diskriminierung aufgrund des Glaubens (Discrimination due to beliefs)


  • outside of, out of

    Außerhalb des Bereichs (Out of the area)


  • thanks to

    Dank deines Tipps hat es geklappt (It worked thanks to your tip)


  • instead of

    Sie gab ihren Schmuck statt des Gelds (She gave her jewelry instead of the money)


  • during

    Während des Jahres 2008 (During 2008)


  • because of, due to

    Wegen eines Fehlers (Due to a mistake)

Important verbs followed by the preposition wegen:
  • zerstreiten wegen (to quarrel because of)

Prepositions with Accusative/Dative

They are also called “Wechselpräpositionen”. They are accusative if they indicate movement and dative if they indicate a state (of rest).
  • an
  • auf
  • hinter
  • in
  • neben
  • über
  • unter
  • vor
  • zwischen
There are some verbs that always indicate movement and other that always indicate a state of rest.
Verbs of movement (regular and transitive) Verbs of state (irregular and intransitive)
  • stellen (to place vertically)
  • legen (to place horizontally)
  • setzen (to set, sit)
  • hängen (to hang)
  • stehen (to stand)
  • liegen (to be lying down)
  • sitzen (to be seated)
  • hängen (to be hung)


  • on, in, next to

    Wenn ich an deiner Stelle wäre, würde ich … (If I were in your position, I would…)


    Am Sonntag (On Sunday)

    Am Abend (in the evening)

Contractions: am (an + dem), ans (an + das) Main Article: preposition ‘an’ auf


  • in, about, on
Contractions: aufs (auf + das) Important verbs with auf:
  • absetzen auf (to set down on)
  • achten auf (to pay attention to)
  • achtgeben auf (to look out for)
  • anstoßen auf (to toast for)
  • antworten auf (to reply to)
  • ausweisen auf (to expel from)
  • sich freuen auf (to be happy about)
  • warten auf (to wait for)
  • zielen auf (to aim for)
  • zuschießen auf (to hurdle toward)
Main article: preposition auf


  • behind

    Gehen Sie bitte hinter das Haus (Please go behind the house)



  • in, inside
Important verbs followed by the preposition in:
  • einbauen in (to insert into)
  • einbinden in (to include in)
  • sich verlieben in (to fall in love with)
  • versunken in (to engulfed in)
  • zerteilen in (to divide into)
Contractions: im (in + dem), ins (in + das) Main article: preposition in


  • next to, near


  • over, about, on top of (but without contact)
Important verbs followed by the preposition “über”:
  • nachdenken über (to think about)
  • reden über (to talk about)


  • under

    Die Ente liegt unter dem Tisch (The duck is under the table) vor


  • in front of

    Sie wartet vor der Schule (She is waiting in front of)

  • ago

    Ich bin vor vier Jahren nach Deutschland gekommen (I arrived in Germany four years ago)



  • between

    Ein Vertrag zwischen Vatikan und der Freien und Hansestadt Hamburg (A contract between the Vatican and the free and Hanseatic city of Hamburg)


The Modal Verbs in German (die Modalverben)

The ModalThe Modal Verbs in German (die Modalverben) Verbs in German (die Modalverben)

Modal verbs help you convey your attitude or explain how you feel about an action in German. They usually accompany another verb and appear in the second position of a sentence. The verb they assist generally appears at the end of the clause.


The modal verbs in German are:
  • dürfen (to be allowed)The Modal Verbs in German (die Modalverben)
  • können (to be able to)
  • mögen (to like)
  • müssen (must, to have to)
  • sollen (should, to be supposed to)
  • wollen (to want)
The following table shows each German modal verb in infinitive form along with the English translation, followed by a statement using the modal verb. Look at the various ways of modifying the statement Ich lerne Deutsch (I learn German) with the modal verbs. Notice that the modal verb is in second position in the sentence, and the main verb gets booted to the end.
German Modal Verb Translation Example English Equivalent
dürfen may, to be allowed to Ich darf Deutsch lernen. l may/am allowed to learn German.
können can, to be able to Ich kann Deutsch lernen. l can/am able to learn German.
mögen to like to Ich mag Deutsch lernen. l like to learn German.
möchten would like to Ich möchte Deutsch lernen. l would like to learn German.
müssen must, to have to Ich muss Deutsch lernen. l must/have to learn German.
sollen should, to besupposed to Ich soll Deutsch lernen. I’m supposed to/should learn German.
wollen to want to Ich will Deutsch lernen. I want to learn German.
These verbs all have regular verb endings in their plural forms (wir, ihr, sie, andSie). Most of them also have irregular verb changes, some of which you can see in the examples in the table.



dürfen können mögen müssen sollen wollen
ich darf kann mag muss soll will
du darfst kannst magst musst sollst willst
er/sie/es darf kann mag muss soll will
wir dürfen können mögen müssen sollen wollen
ihr dürft könnt mögt müsst sollt wollt
sie dürfen können mögen müssen sollen wollen
  • The 3rd person singular does not have the “–t” ending.
  • The 3 singular forms do not have an “Umlaut” ( ¨ ). The 3 plural forms always have it if the infinitive has it.

Was wollen Sie trinken? What do you want to drink?

The Modal Verbs in German (die Modalverben)


The Präteritum is much more common with modal verbs than the Perfekt.
dürfen können mögen müssen sollen wollen
ich durfte konnte mochte musste sollte wollte
du durftest konntest mochtest musstest solltest wolltest
er/sie/es durfte konnte mochte musste sollte wollte
wir durften konnten mochten mussten sollten wollten
ihr durftet konntet mochtet musstet solltet wolltet
sie durften konnten mochten mussten sollten wollten
  • No conjugation has an umlaut.
  • Careful with the verb “mögen”. The verb stem is not that same as that of the Präteritum.


There are 2 ways to construct the Perfekt with modal verbs:
  • When there is a full verb, the structure is:
verb “haben” + the infinitive of the full verb + the infinitive of the modal verb

Ich habe essen wollen I have wanted to eat

  • When there is no full verb, the structure is:
verb “haben” + the “Partizip II” of the modal verb:

Ich habe gewollt I have wanted


The construction of the Plusquamperfekt with modal verbs is: verb “haben” in Präteritum + the infinitive of the full verb + the infinitive of the modal verb.

Ich hatte essen wollen I had wanted to eat

Konjunktiv II

dürfen können mögen müssen sollen wollen
ich dürfte könnte möchte müsste sollte wollte
du dürftest könntest möchtest müsstest solltest wolltest
er/sie/es dürfte könnte möchte müsste sollte wollte
wir dürften könnten möchten müssten sollten wollten
ihr dürftet könntet möchtet müsstet solltet wolltet
sie dürften könnten möchten müssten sollten wollten
  • If the verb in the infinitive has an Umlaut, the Konjunktiv II will have it.
  • Careful with the verb mögen. The verb stem is not the same as the stem for Konjunktive II.

wir möchten uns entschuldigen We would like to apologize

Konjunktiv I

dürfen können mögen müssen sollen wollen
ich dürfe könne möge müsse solle wolle
du dürfest könnest mögest müssest sollest wollest
er/sie/es dürfe könne möge müsse solle wolle
wir dürfen können mögen müssen sollen wollen
ihr dürfet könnet möget müsset sollet wollet
sie dürfen können mögen müssen sollen wollen


Modal verbs do not have an imperative form.

Partizip II for modal verbs

The verbs sollen and wollen have regular Partizip II form and the rest have irregular forms.
dürfen können mögen müssen sollen wollen
gedurft gekonnt gemocht gemusst gesollt gewollt

Partizip I for modal verbs

Modal verbs have regular Partizip I forms:
dürfen können mögen müssen sollen wollen
dürfend könnend mögend müssend sollend wollend

Futur I for modal verbs

dürfen können mögen müssen sollen wollen
ich werde dürfen können mögen müssen sollen wollen
du wirst
er/sie/es wird
wir werden
ihr werdet
sie werden

Ich werde daran denken müssen I will have to think about it

 The Modal Verbs in German (die Modalverben)

Use of modal verbs


It means to “be allowed to”.

Du darfst mich Hans nennen You can call me Hans

Man darf hier nicht rauchen You can’t smoke here


It means to “be able to”.

Wir können Deutsch sprechen We can speak German

Er konnte nicht schwimmen He didn’t know how to swim


It means to “like”. The verb “Mögen” can be accompanied by another verb in the infinitive (behaving like a modal verb) or it can be the only verb in the sentence.

Ich mag dieses Auto I like this car

The verb “mögen” is used very often with the Konjunktiv II when we ask for something politely.

Ich möchte gern ein Bier trinken I would like to drink a beer


It means “to have to” / “must”.

Ich muss heute zu Hause bleiben I have to stay home today

Du musst nicht das Glas essen, sondern das Bier trinken You shouldn’t eat the glass but rather drink the beer


It means “to be supposed to”/”should” in the context of complying with a task, a law or an order. The difference in meaning between “müssen” and “sollen” is slight and both can be used in many cases.

Das Kind soll heute die erste Impfung erhalten The child should receive his first vaccination today.


It means to want. But be careful with saying „Ich will” as it sounds impolite if you are asking for something. It is more appropriate to say “Ich möchte” or “Ich hätte gern”.

Die Kinder wollen spielen The children want to play


The preposition "zu" in German

Learn German

The preposition “zu” in German

“Selbsterkenntnis ist der erste Schritt zur Besserung”
“Self-knowledge is the first step towards improvement”

The meaning of “zu” in German

“Zu” is a word that can create a lot of confusion amongst people that are starting to learn German. It is used as a locative preposition, temporal preposition, causal preposition, adverb and conjunction with different meanings. In our opinion, “zu” is the most complicated German word.

“zu” as a locative preposition

In general, it indicates direction toward a place or person. It is used for saying that one is going to a person (or their home):

Tino fährt zu dir Tino is driving to your place

If this person is a professional:

Er fährt zum Arzt He’s driving to the doctor

It is used to say that one is going to some place, or on the way to that place:

er fährt zum Flughafen He’s going to the airport

wir gehen zur Schule We are going to school

this place can be abstract:

er fährt zur Arbeit He’s going to work

Zu Hause

The expression “zu Hause” means to be “at home”. Take note that this does not indicate movement as “zu”usually does.

Wir sind zu Hause We’re at home

“zu” as a temporal preposition

As a temporal presposition, “zu” can be translated as “for” or “on” where a period of time is implicit. This can be understood better with some examples:

Was kann ich zu Weihnachten kochen? What can I cook for Christmas?

Was machst du zu Halloween? What are you doing on Halloween?

zum Muttertag on/for Mother’s Day

zu Silvester on/for New Year’s

zu Ostern on/for Easter

zu Mittag at noon

“zu” as a causal preposition

“Zu” as a causal preposition can be translated as “to”.

was können wir zur Vermeidung von Fehlern tun? What can we do to avoid mistakes?

“zu” as an adverb (too much)

“zu” is used very often with the meaning “too much”.

Es ist zu kalt It’s too cold

Er fährt zu schnell He’s driving too fast

“zu” as an adverb (closed)

“zu” is used in colloquial German with the meaning of closed

Das Fenster ist zu The window is closed


ab und zu once in a while

“zu” + Infinitive

We are used to modal verbs needing another verb in its infinitive form so that the sentence makes sense:

Ich will tanzen I want to dance

Something similar happens to many verbs whose meaning can be completed with a subordinate clause with an infinitive. This is called “Infinitivkonstruktion” in German.

Ich weiß nicht, was zu sagen ist I’d don’t know what to say

Es gibt viel zu tun There is too much to do

Pay attention to how the separable verbs work in this clause:

Ich fange an, mein Leben zu ändern I’m starting to change my life

“zu” as a substitute for “dass”

Sometimes, “dass” can be substituted for “zu” to not repeat the subject. The construction with “zu” is more elegant:

Er hat mir gesagt, dass ich in 3 Jahren nochmals komme sollte

Er hat mir gesagt, in 3 Jahren nochmals zu kommen He told me to come again in 3 years

“zu” before nominalized verbs

Often, verbs are nominalized in German. “Einkaufen” means “to go shopping” as a verb. The nominalized version “Das Einkaufen” means the same thing but is now a noun which is why it is written with capital a letter and is neuter.

Ich gehe zum Einkaufen I’m going shopping

Ich gehe zum Essen I’m going to eat

“ohne zu” + Infinitive

The structure “ohne… zu” + INFINITIVE is the equivalent of “without + gerund” (“without knowing”, for example) in English

Ich habe das Auto gekauft, ohne zu überlegen I bought the car without thinking

Ich weiß nicht wie lange man ohne zu trinken überleben kann I don’t know how long one can survive without drinking

Ich habe dir wehgetan, ohne es zu wollen I hurt you without meaning to

Er ist meistens ohne zu frühstücken in die Schule gegangen He usually went to school without eating breakfast

“um .. zu”

In subordinate clauses of purpose where the subject of both clauses is the same, “um…zu” is used. If it were different, then “damit” would be used.

Ich lerne Deutsch, um bei einer deutschen Firma zu arbeiten I’m learning German to work in a German company

But if the subject changes with “damit”:

Wir sparen, damit meine Frau ein Auto kaufen kann We are saving money so that my wife can buy a car

Purpose means that the action is carried out in the main clause (“Learning German”) to achieve a result (“to work in a German company”).

Separable verbs with the preposition “zu”

Next, we´ll show some separable verbs with the particle “zu”:
  • zuhören((to listen)
  • zumachen (to close)
  • zuordnen (to assign)
  • zusperren (to close, block)

Verbs followed by the preposition “zu”

  • addieren zu (to add to)
  • auffordern zu (to invite to)
  • beten zu (to pray to)
  • einladen zu (to invite to)
  • gehören zu (to belong to)
  • gratulieren zu (to give congratulations to)
  • passen zu (to match to)
  • sagen zu (to say to)
  • versuchen zu (to try to)
  • weigern zu (to refuse to)

“zu” Grammar

Declension of “zu”

“Zu” does not change, just like all prepositions.

“zu” takes dative

Words that follow it have to be decline in the dative (it always takes dative).


“zum” is the contraction of “zu” + “dem”.


“zur” is the contraction of “zu” + “der”. It is often useful in German to use a zu-construction when writing or speaking. We use it when we want to have a second clause that adds information to the preceding clause, but does not repeat the subject. Why do you want to learn to use zu-constructions? They add variety to your language and by learning the some of the common introductory phrases you are learning German collocations, which will increase your speaking and writing fluency. Let’s take a look at some of the characteristics of the zu-construction.
  1. Zu-constructions don’t have a subject. It’s left out.
  2. The zu-construction can relate back to either the subject or the object of the preceding main clause.
  3. Because zu-constructions don’t have a subject the verb cannot be conjugated. Therefore, the verb is always in the infinitive. For this reason many German grammar books call this construction the Infinitivkonstruktion.
  4. The infinitive verb is always placed at the end of the sentence.
  5. Zu and the infinitive are written as two words.
  6. If the verb has a separable prefix the zu is placed between the prefix and the verb and written together. (z.B. Er versucht, das Fenster aufzumachen. Er versucht, das Fenster wieder zuzumachen.)
  7. If the supplementary clause has a modal verb, it is placed after the zu and the other verb before it.
So there we have it, the seven rules of zu-constructions. Sometimes a zu-construction can be used to replace a dass-construction, if you are trying to add more variety to your writing or speaking. Let’s compare. z.B.
  • Ich hoffe, dass ich meine Jugendliebe bald wiedersehe.
    • I hope that I will soon see my childhood sweetheart again.
  • Ich hoffe, meine Jugendliebe bald wiederzusehen.
    • I hope to see my childhood sweetheart again soon.
As long as the introductory clause and verb allow for further information to be given either a dass-construction or zu-construction are possible. If the supplementary clause deals with the same subject or object as in the introductory clause, a zu-construction is possible. It is recommended to separate the two clauses using a comma. There are a few verbs that are often used to introduce zu-constructions like hoffen (to hope) and versuchen (to try), which we have already seen above. Let’s take a look at some other common verbs that often used to introduce the zu-constructions. A vertical line separating a prefix from the verb means that the verb has a separable prefix. There are also adjectives and participles that are often used to introduce a zu-construction. The adjectives must be used in combination with the verb sein. Often the subject es is used in the introductory clause, as a general statement is being made. There are also several noun-verb combinations that are often used to introduce zu-constructions. In conclusion, zu-constructions are a useful and common way of adding additional information to a sentence without the need to repeat the subject. The introductory clauses are very useful to learn, so that you have set phrases for speaking German.

Dual or Two-Way Prepositions in German

Spoken German Classes

Dual or Two-Way Prepositions in German

Most German prepositions are always followed by the same case, but dual-prepositions (also called two-way or doubtful prepositions) are prepositions can take either the accusative or dative case. When an accusative/dative preposition answers the question “where to?” (wohin?) or “what about?” (worüber ?), it takes the accusative case. When answering the question “where” (wo?), a two-way preposition takes the dative case. Think about the English phrases ‘he jumps into the water’ versus ‘he is swimming in the water.’ The first answers a “where to” question: where is he jumping? “Into the water” (in das Wasser or ins Wasser). The second phrase represents a “where” situation. Where is he swimming? “In the water” (in dem Wasser or im Wasser). To express the two different situations, English uses two different prepositions: in or into. To express the same idea, German uses one preposition — in — followed by either the accusative case (motion) or the dative (location). There are nine of these doubtful prepositions:
  • an

  • auf

  • hinter

  • neben

  • in

  • über

  • unter

  • vor

  • zwischen

When to Use the Accusative Case

If you want to convey a direction or destination in your sentence, then you need to use the accusative. These sentences will always answer the question where to/wohin? For example:
  • Die Katze springt auf den Stuhl. | The cat jumps on(to) the chair.
  • Wohin springt die Katze? Auf den Stuhl. | Where is the cat jumping? On(to) the chair.
The accusative is also used when you can ask what about/worüber? For example:
  • Sie diskutieren über den Film. | They are discussing the film.)
  • Worüber diskutieren sie? Über den Film. | What are they talking about? About the film.

When to Use the Dative Case

The dative is used to indicate a stable position or situation. It answers the question where/wo? For example:
  • Die Katze sitzt auf dem Stuhl. (The cat sits on the chair.)
The dative is also used when there is no particular direction or goal intended. For example:
  • Sie ist die ganze Zeit in der Stadt herumgefahren.| (She drove around town all day.)
Please remember that the above rules apply only to dual-prepositions. In other words dative-only prepositions will always remain dative even if the sentence indicates motion or direction. Likewise, accusative-only prepositions will always remain accusative even if there is no motion described in the sentence.

Clever Ways to Remember German Prepositions

“Arrow” vs “Blob”: Some people find it easier to remember the accusative-versus-dative difference by thinking of the “accusative” A on its side, representing an arrow ( > ) for motion in a specific direction, and the dative D on its side to represent a blob at rest. It matters little HOW you remember the difference, as long as you have a clear understanding of when a two-way preposition uses the dative or accusative. Rhyme Time: You can the following rhyme to help memorize dual-prepositions):
An, auf, hinter, neben, in, über, unter, vor, und zwischen stehen mit dem vierten Fall, wenn man fragen kann “wohin”, mit dem dritten steh’n sie so, daß man nur fragen kann “wo”.
(At, on, behind, near, in, over, under, before, and between/Go with the fourth case, when one asks “where to”/The third case is different/With that you can only ask where.)

Dual Prepositions and Sample Sentences

The following chart lists an example of the dative and accusative cases for several dual-prepositions.
Preposition Definition Dative Example Accusative Example
an at, by, on Der Lehrer steht an der Tafel. The teacher is standing at the blackboard. Der Student schreibt es an die Tafel. The student writes it on the board.
auf on, onto Sie sitzt auf dem Stuhl. She is sitting on the chair. Er legt das Papier auf den Tisch. He is putting the paper on the table.
hinter behind Das Kind steht hinter dem Baum. The child is standing behind the tree. Die Maus läuft hinter die Tür. The mouse runs behind the door
neben beside, near, next to Die Socken sind in der Schublade. The socks are in the drawer. Der Junge geht in die Schule. The boy goes to school
in in, into, to Die Socken sind in der Schublade. The socks are in the drawer. Der Junge geht in die Schule. The boy goes to school
über over (above), about, across Das Bild hängt über dem Schreibtisch. The picture hangs over the desk. Der Junge geht in die Schule. The boy goes to school
unter under, below Die Frau schläft unter den Bäumen. The woman is sleeping under the trees. Der Hund läuft unter die Brücke. The dog runs under the bridge.
zwischen between Der Katze stand zwischen mir und dem Stuhl. The cat is between me and the chair. Sie stellte die Katze zwischen mich und den Tisch. She put the cat between me and the table.

Test Yourself

See if you can answer this question: Is in der Kirche dative or accusative, wo or wohin? If you think that in der Kirche is dative and the phrase answers the question wo, then you are correct! In der Kirche means “in (inside) the church,” while in die Kirche means “into the church” (wohin?). (Now you see yet another reason why you need to know your German genders! Knowing that “church” is die Kirche, which changes to der Kirche in the dative is an essential element in using any preposition, but especially the two-way ones.) Now we’ll put the Kirche phrases with in into sentences to further illustrate the point:
  • AkkusativDie Leute gehen in die Kirche. The people are going into the church. (motion >wohin)
  • DativDie Leute sitzen in der Kirche. The people are sitting in the church. (location, wo, X marks the spot)

Conditional Clauses in German (Konditionalsätze)

German Language Classes

Conditional Clauses in German (Konditionalsätze)

Conditional clauses are a type of subordinate clause. In German, there are 5 types of conditional clauses

Type -1: Imperativ + Wenn + Präsens

Type -1 clauses are used for giving conditional orders and are formed:

Imperativ + Wenn + Präsens

Sag mir, wenn du Zeit hast Tell me if you have time

Type 0: Präsens + Wenn + Präsens

Type 0 clauses are used to express empirical or scientific realities. They are constructed in the following way:

Präsens + Wenn + Präsens

Du kannst alles schaffen, wenn du es wirklich willst You can do it all, if you really want to

Remember that the order of the sentences can be reversed, but the verb must remain in the second position in the main clause:

Wenn du es wirklich willst, kannst du alles schaffen If you really want to, you can do it all

Type 1: Futur I + Wenn + Präsens

Type 1 clauses are used to express events that might happen. Their construction:

Futur I + Wenn + Präsens

Wenn ich Geld habe, werde ich einen neuen Laptop kaufen When/If I have money, I will buy a new laptop

NOTE: The idea of this clause is that we think that we are going to have money in the future; we consider it to be a possible situation in the future.

Type 2: Konjunktiv II (Präteritum) + Wenn + Konjunktiv II (Präteritum)

Type 2 is used for narrating situations that have little possibility of taking place:

Konjunktiv II (Präteritum) + Wenn + Konjunktiv II (Präteritum)

Wenn ich Millionär wäre würde ich ein Motorrad kaufen If I were a millionaire, I’d buy myself a motorcycle

Tipo 3: Konjunktiv II Plusquamperfekt + Wenn + Konjunktiv II Plusquamperfekt

Type 3 conditional clauses express situations that are not possible in the present, their construction is:

Konjunktiv II Plusquamperfekt + Wenn + Konjunktiv II Plusquamperfekt

Wenn ich an seiner Stelle gewesen wäre, hätte ich das selbe gemacht If I had been in his place, I would have done the same

Conditional clauses without ‘Wenn’

Conditional clauses can also be formed without the conjunction wenn but by changing the position of the verb to position 1. Construction with wenn:

Wenn ich reich wäre, würde ich dir helfen If I were rich, I would help you

Construction without wenn:

Wäre ich reich, würde ich dir helfen If I were rich, I would help you


German Conjunction-adverbs and Coordinate Conjunctions

Spoken German

Conjunction-adverbs in German (Konjunktionaladverbien)

In German, the Konjunktionaladverbien are very interesting. They are adverbs that share properties of conjunctions. This type of word creates a bit of confusion among people trying to learn German. We’ll try and explain this in a way that is understandable:


The two properties of a Konjunktionaladverb are:
  • It occupies a position in the clause (like an adverb)
  • They associate clauses with one another (like a conjunction)

Die Zimmer sind klein. Trotzdem ist das Hotel für den Preis zu empfehlen The rooms are small. Nevertheless, the hotel is recommended for the price.

Pay attention to the construction: The verb “ist ( sein)” is in the second position. This is because “Trotzdem”, which gives order to the sentence, is behaving like an adverb by occupying the first position in the sentence. Another possibility is to place the Konjunktionaladverb in the middle of the sentence (position 3).

Die Zimmer sind klein. Das Hotel ist trotzdem für den Preis zu empfehlen The rooms are small. The hotel, nonetheless, is recommended for the price

List of the most common Konjunktionaladverbien

Adverbs Meaning
allerdings however, nonetheless
auch also
außerdem in addition
deshalb therefore, that’s why
deswegen therefore, that’s why
doch so
gleichfalls likewise
nur only
so so
somit hence, therefore
sonst or else
zudem in addition
trotzdem however, nonetheless


It means “however,” “nonetheless,” or simply “but” when it acts as a Konjunktionaladverb

Ich habe Geschichte studiert, allerdings habe ich keinen Abschluss I studied history but I didn’t finish

Take note that when it is simply acting as an adverb it has another meaning: “of course (as a response)” or “naturally”

Ich habe allerdings keine Lust noch länger zu warten Of course I don’t want to wait even longer


It means “also”

Ich habe Deutsch studiert. Auch habe ich zwei Jahre mit meiner Familie in Deutschland gewohnt I studied German. I also lived in Germany for two years with my family


It means “also”

Ich heiße Ana und bin 30 Jahre alt, außerdem bin ich Lehrerin und Mutter von 3 Kindern My name is Ana and I am 30 years old. In addition, I am a professor and mother of three children


It means “therefore” or “that’s why”

Ich verstehe leider kein Spanisch. Daher kann ich das Handbuch nicht lesen Unfortunately, I don’t understand Spanish; that’s why I can’t read the manual


It means “therefore” or “that’s why”

Wir haben noch keine Erfahrung. Darum ist es für uns wichtig, verschiedene Meinungen zu hören We still don’t have experience. That’s why it is important to us to listen to different opinions


deshalb means “therefore” or “that’s why”

Mein Mann hat momentan leider keinen Job, deshalb muss ich arbeiten My husband doesn’t have a job at the moment, unfortunately. That’s why I have to work


It means “that’s why”

Sie hat kein Auto, deswegen fährt sie immer mit der U-Bahn She doesn’t have a car. That’s why she always uses the subway


It means “so” or “but” or “though.” It depends greatly on the context.

Wir haben in deiner Wohnung angerufen, doch warst du nicht da We called you at home but you weren’t there


It means “however”

Ich bin Deutsche, trotzdem möchte ich das Buch auf Englisch lesen I am German. However, I would like to read the book in English.

Coordinate conjunctions Subordinate conjunctions Compound conjunctions
aber beziehungsweise denn oder sondern und als bevor bis dass damit nachdem ob obwohl seit seitdem sobald sofern soweit sowie während weil wenn wie wo weder .. noch anstatt..zu entweder…oder sowohl … als (auch) sowohl … wie (auch) je … desto zwar … aber

Coordinate Conjunctions (Koordinierende Konjunktionen)

The coordinate conjunctions do not modify the position of the verb in the clause. The most common ones are:
Coordinate conjunction Meaning
aber but
beziehungsweise better put respectively
denn because then
oder or
sondern but but rather
und and


It means “but”.

Die Hose ist schön, aber zu klein The pants are pretty but too small

Er ist klug, aber faul He’s smart but lazy

Das Angebot ist super, aber wir haben keine Zeit The offer is great but we don’t have time


It means “better put” or “respectively” and is abbreviated often as bzw.

Ein Auto habe ich beziehungsweise meine Frau hat eins I have a car or, better put, my wife has one.

Die Disko ist heute billiger für Frauen und Männer. Es kostet 7 Euro bzw. 10 Euro. The disco is cheaper today for women and men. It costs 7 and 10 Euros, respectively


It means then/because, etc.

Ich weinte, denn ich hatte kein Geld I cried because I didn’t have money

Synonymns: weil


Means “or”

Ich weiß nicht, ob ich lachen oder weinen soll I don’t know whether I should laugh or cry

Wer fängt an, du oder ich? Who starts, you or me?


Means “but” or “but rather”

Das Haus ist nicht alt, sondern neu The house is not old but new


It means “and”

Meine Freunde und ich wollen ins Kino gehen My friends and I want to go to the cinema

Subordinate Conjunctions

Subordinate conjunctions help to form subordinate clauses. One of the most interesting things about German is that the verb is placed in the last position of the clause in subordinate clauses.
Subordinate conjunction Meaning
als when
bevor before
bis until
dass that
damit so that
nachdem after
ob whether if
obwohl although
seitdem since
sobald as soon as
sofern provided that as long as
soweit insofar as
sowie as soon as
während while
weil because
wenn if
wie how
wo where


It means “when” if it is a subordinate conjunction. Careful: It’s used only in the past and when the past event only took place one time (temporal conjunction)

Als ich Kind war, wohnte ich in München When I was a child, I lived in Munich

“Als” is also used for the construction of the comparative of superiority:

Er ist stärker als ich He is stronger than me


It means “before” (temporal conjunction to show previous action or event)

Woran denkst du, bevor du einschläfst? What do you think about before you fall asleep?


It means “until” (temporal conjunction to show subsequent action or event) “Bis” can act as a subordinate conjunction:

Warte, bis du gesund bist Wait until you are healthy

or as a preposition:

Bis in den Tod until death


It can be translated into English as “that” and is used to start a new subordinate clause.

Ich denke, dass die deutsche Sprache kompliziert ist I think that the German language is complicated

dass vs das

Sometimes English speakers confuse “das” (relative pronoun) and “dass” (conjunction). The reason for this is because we use “that” for both words. “das” is used to make relative clauses, which are used to give more information about a noun (Example: the noun “book”):

Das ist das Buch, das ich gerade lese This is the book that I am reading

dass is to make common subordinate clauses where more information is given with a verb (Example: the verb to say)

Ich habe dir gesagt, dass er heute kommt I told you that he’s coming today


It means “so that” (conjunction of purpose)

Ich spare, damit meine Familie einen Mercedes kaufen kann I am saving money so that my family can buy a Mercedes


It means “after” (temporal conjunction)

Nachdem wir aufgestanden waren, haben wir gepackt After we got up, we packed our bags


It means “whether/if” in the context of indirect questions or to show doubt.

Er hat dich gefragt, ob du ins Kino gehen möchtest He asked you if you wanted to go to the cinema

Common mistakes: Confusing the use of ob and wenn


It means “although” or “even though” (concessive conjunction)

Ich mag Kinder, obwohl ich keine habe I like kids even though I don’t have any


It means “since” (temporal conjunction). Seit can act as a subordinate conjunction:

Ich wohne in Köln, seit ich geboren bin I’ve been living in Cologne since I was born

or as a preposition (seit + Dative):

Er wohnt jetzt seit 2 Jahren in diesem Haus He’s been living in this house for two years


It means “since” (temporal conjunction)

Ich habe keine Heizung, seitdem ich in Spanien wohne I haven’t had heating since I’ve been living in Spain


It means “as soon as” (temporal conjunction)

Ich informiere dich, sobald ich kann I’ll inform you as soon as I can


It means “as long as” (temporal conjunction)

Wir versuchen zu helfen, sofern es möglich ist We will try to help as long as it’s possible


It means “as much as” or “for all”

Soviel ich weiß, ist sie in Berlin geboren For all I know, she was born in Berlin


It means “as far as”

Soweit ich mich erinnern kann, war er Pilot As far as I remember, he was a pilot


It means “as soon as”

Ich schicke dir das Dokument, sowie es fertig ist I’ll send you the document as soon as it’s finished


It means “while” or “during” (temporal). While can act as a subordinate conjunction:

Während ich studierte, lernte ich auch Deutsch While I was studying, I was also learning German

or as a preposition (während + Genitive):

Während meiner Jugendzeit war ich in Basel During my youth I was in Basel


It means “because” (causal conjunction)

Sie arbeitet heute nicht, weil sie krank ist She doesn’t work today because she’s sick

Synonyms: denn


It means “if” but only in certain cases. For example: “If you want to go with us, you can.” Expressing doubt would require “ob”. For example: ” I don’t know if you’d like to come with us.” It also means “whenever” (conditional conjunction)

Wenn du möchtest, kannst du Deutsch lernen If you want, you can learn German (context of “if” or “in case”)

Wenn ich singe, fühle ich mich viel besser If I sing, I feel much better (context of “whenever I sing…”)

Common mistakes: Confusing the use of “wenn” and “ob”.


It means “how” (modal conjunction):

Ich weiß nicht, wie ich es auf Deutsch sagen kann I don’t know how to say it in German

or for expressions of equality:

Peter ist so dünn wie Tomas Peter is as thin as Tomas


It means “where” (local conjunction)

Ich weiß nicht, wo er Deutsch gelernt hat I don’t know where he learned German

Compound Conjunctions

Compound conjunctions are formed by 2 words:
Compound conjunction Meaning
anstatt … zu instead of [subordinate]
entweder … oder either… or [coordinate]
weder noch neither… nor [coordinate]
weder noch as well as [subordinate]
sowohl … als (auch) as well as [subordinate]
sowohl … wie (auch) as well as [subordinate]


It means “instead of”

Ich würde 2 Wochen am Strand liegen, anstatt zu arbeiten I would be lying on the beach for 2 weeks instead of working


It means “either… or”

Entweder bist du Teil der Lösung, oder du bist Teil des Problems Either you’re part of the solution or you’re part of the problem

Die Hose ist entweder schwarz oder rot The pants are either black or red


It means “neither… nor”

Weder du noch ich haben eine Lösung Neither you nor I have a solution

sowohl … als (auch)

It means “as well as”

Ich habe sowohl schon einen Mercedes als auch einen Audi gehabt I have had a Mercedes as well as an Audi

sowohl … wie (auch)

It means “as well as”

Ich habe sowohl ein Auto wie auch ein Motorrad I have a car as well as a motorcycle


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