Use of hin and her in German

Hin or her?

The adverbs hin and her cause much confusion for German learners. There are no direct equivalents of either of these in English and to English speakers they often seem superfluous in a sentence. German in fact signifies directional movement (vs. position) in several ways that English does not. The adverbs hin and her are examples of this specification of movement in a particular direction or from a point of origin.
hin generally indicates movement in a direction away from the speaker toward a particular destination.
Wir gehen zum Hafen hin. We are going to the harbor.
Schau mal hin! Look (over there)!
her generally indicates movement from a point of origin in a direction toward the speaker.
Komm mal her! Come over here (from there)!
Wo bekommen wir das Geld her? Where will we get the money (from)?
Hin and her are used in their most literal sense with verbs of movement (e.g., gehen to gokommen to come) or activity that involves direction (e.g., sehen to lookgeben to givereichen to hand over). Often they appear as separable prefixes (e.g., herkommen herholenhinlegen, hinschreiben). More specific directional adverbs are created through a number of compounds that combine hin and her with prepositions that denote direction (e.g., heraufherabheraushereinhinaufhinüberhindurchhinzu) or with other adverbs (e.g., hierherwoher, dahinüberallhin).
Er geht die Treppe hinauf. He is going up the stairs.
Er kommt die Treppe herunter. He is coming down the stairs.
Der Apfel fiel vom Baum herab. The apple fell (down) from the tree.
Der Apfel fiel ins Gras hinunter. The apple fell (down) into the grass.
Note in particular the contrasting examples with the apple. Here, the perspective of the speaker is unclear. Is the speaker in the tree? Under the tree? Beside the tree?  But the additional prepositional phrases specify respectively movement from a point of origin (vom Baum), in which case her is used, and movement toward a particular destination (ins Gras), in which case hin is used. The adverbs hin and her also appear in expressions with extended meanings. They occur for instance in time expressions (e.g., eine Weile hin a while longer stillschon viele Jahre her many years ago). They also appear in a number of fixed idiomatic expressions (e.g., hin und her back and forthhin und wieder occasionallyhinter dir her behind you [and moving in the same direction as you]auf seinen Rat hin at his advicevon der Erziehung her on account of one’s upbringing). And they occur as verb prefixes with sometimes abstract or figurative meanings (e.g., herstellen to producehinrichten to execute). Finally, in actual everyday usage the lines between hin and her are blurred. While southern German speakers tend to maintain the distinction between the two adverbs, in German spoken north of the Main River her is favored in most situations regardless of direction or perspective, and this is commonly reduced to ‘r (herüber ‘rüberhinaus heraus ‘raus). No wonder hin and her cause confusion for learners! Apart from being aware that these variations exist, the basic guidelines of movement toward a destination (hin) and movement from a point of origin (her) can at least provide a useful point of reference.

Meaning of Hin and Her

The adverb „hin“ describes movement away from the speaker. The adverb „her“ describes movement towards the speaker. Hin und her german local adverbs The questions „woher?“ and „wohin?“ ask about direction. They can be written together or separate. Wohin gehst du?“ – „Wo gehst du hin?“ Woher kommst du?“ – „Wo kommst du her?“

Hin and Her with Adverbs

When using local adverbs with „hin“ or „her“, we are giving a specific direction towards or away from the speaker. Examples: Dahin, daher, dorthin, dorther, hierhin, hierher
  • „Ich gehe dorthin, wo wir uns das erste mal getroffen haben.“
With other adverbs they aren‘t directly combined. Instead, they go with the verb.

Hin and Her with Verbs

Hin and her are often used as a prefix with a separable verb. This works for all verbs involving movement. They give the appropriate direction of the movement.
  • Komm bitte her! Ich muss mit dir reden.“
  • Geht bitte irgendwo anders hin! Ich brauche Ruhe!“

Hin and her with Prepositions and Verbs

To give a more specific direction, they are often combined with a preposition and most often a verb of movement.
  • „Anna kam ins Haus hinein und ging gleich wieder heraus.“
  • „Ich will den Berg hinauflaufen und dann wieder herunterlaufen.“
  • Du ich kann über die Mauer hinübersehen, aber auch er kann von der anderen Seite herübersehen.“
›When combining hin and her with prepositions we often use contractions. Both are correct but the short version is much more popular. These can even be used as prefixes for separable verbs: raus = hinaus / heraus   rein = hinein / hinaus rauf = hinauf / herauf   runter = hinunter / herunter rüber = hinüber / herüber

Meanings of the shortened versionsgerman grammar raus

raus = hinaus / hinaus
  • „Ich gehe (aus dem Haus) raus.“
Similarly: rauslaufen, rauskommen, rausfahren, rausrennen, rausschwimmen, raustragen, rausschauen …German Grammar rein rein = hinein / herein
  • „Ich gehe (in das Haus) rein.“
Similarly: reinlaufen, reinkommen, reinfahren, reinrennen, reintragen, reinschauen, … German Grammar rauf rauf = hinauf / herauf
  • „Ich gehe auf den Berg rauf.“
Similarly: rauflaufen, raufkommen, rauffahren, raufrennen, rauftragen, raufklettern, raufbringen … runter = hinunter / herunterGerman Grammar runter
  • „Ich gehe in den Keller runter.“
Similarly: runterlaufen, runterkommen, runterfahren, runterrennen, runtertragen, runterbringen, … rüber = hinüber / herüber
  • „Ich klettere am besten dort über den Zaun rüber.“German Grammar rüber
Similarly: rüberlaufen, rüberkommen, rüberfahren, rübertragen, rüberbringen, … „Rüber“ ›means changing locations: moving from one side to the other.


Hin and her describe a movement in a certain direction. ›”Hin” describes movement away from from the speaker. “Her” describes movement towards the speaker. We can combine them with other local adverbs, verbs and prepositions.


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