"I'm going home" = I am going to the place where I live and where I feel at home. It need not be a house (could be a flat/an apartment, for example).
"I'm going to the house" = I am going to a particular house that we have spoken about before, but it need not be a place where I live.
I have the same question. I can memorise going through a lesson, but all of the different types of articles in the lessons so far seem so redundant. I know they label it as "datative" or "accusative" case, but when I read the sentence, they pretty much seem to state much of the same thing except just alter the article for whatever arbitrary reason thus making the article you used in a previous lesson incorrect in another lesson to make the exact same statement. It is likely just my own frustration at the seemingly most unnecessarily complicated language I am attempting to learn.
I understand your frustration! It is unfortunately just the way language works. We have the same thing in English, for instance, we do use the dative case. Eg. 'To whom is that addressed?' Where 'whom' is dative, but we don't use it very often. Cases can be useful though in clarifying meaning, but it's quite hard to see sometimes! It's frustrating, but learning a language isn't easy. (You should check out Polish, I'm pretty sure they have something crazy like 13 cases!)
In very old German, yes; in modern German, it would be zum Haus without the -e ending on the dative.
That ending survives in the fixed expressions zu Hause "at home" and nach Hause "home(wards)", but not when the word is used to mean "house".
So, "We're going to the house" = Wir gehen zum Haus.
I googled this, and got an interesting reply. Simply, it seems that adding the -e form is now antiquated (old fashioned), but in this particular construction, because it is so common, it's stayed. So, you can choose between 'Dem Haus' or 'Dem Hause', with the first being more modern, but in this context (meaning home) you require the -e.
So, try not to think of nach Hause as a dative form, but as a fixed form.
This confuses me too, as I'm not sure how this generalises to other dative constructions.
I am a bit confused about zu and nach:
Even though both "zu" and "nach" may in some occasions mean "to", when attached to "Haus" are they "fixed expressions"? Like,
zu Hause - at home: E.g.: Ich habe zu Hause viele Fotos von meiner Familie.
nach Hause - (to) home: E.g.: Der Lehrer hat den Schüler nach Hause geschickt.
Is this right?
Thanks for the answer! And when we are referring to a place that has a specific geographic location (e.g. Hannover Hauptbahnhof) which one should we use then?
Wir gehen nach Hannover Hauptbahnhof, um einen Freund zu treffen.
Wir gehen zum Hannover Hauptbahnhof, um einen Freund zu treffen.
If you go on duolingo on the internet there is a section called 'tips and notes' in most of the lessons. Here is a link about 'nach haus' https://www.duolingo.com/skill/de/Dative-Prepositions
I think duolingo was sufficient up to the accusative case. However, there just isn't enough information to make sense out of the dative section. As a foreigner, I have no idea what nach means in this context and I feel like that's something that we need to read about before encountering it as a question.
What does "nach" have to do with the dative case, is it an article?
Since writing this comment, I've enrolled in my second Deutsch class. I'm learning. One thing my Professor say, as far as prepositions and cases go, there is no reason behind case. That's just the way it is and that if you want to speak proper German you will just have to remember that case after nach will always be dative. Best thing to do is search google for a preposition list and remember each of them for each case. It's not that hard once you learn to just go with it. Since posting that comment I've also been introduced to the genetive case. I'm so happy I finally learned about it. With the genetive in my pocket I feel like I can read more German than ever. For me, now that I know all of the cases, the biggest challenge is simply remembering noun genders. I will say this in regards to my old comment, Duolingo will take you really far, but Duolingo and any into to German textbook you can get your hands on will get you very far.
Oh and to clear up the issue with this topic. Nach should be used when traveling to a large place. Sometimes you will hear people use nach when going to a city, and you will definitely use it when going to another country. As far as using it with haus, It's just one of those situations that is an exception and there is no reason for it, just accept it.
I suppose, but I am not sure, please take a look at this http://germanisapieceofcake.blogspot.in/2012/04/zu-and-nach.html.
I assume that by "Where are you going?", you're asking for the destination -- that would be Wo gehen Sie hin? or Wohin gehen Sie?.
Just Wo gehen Sie? would be "Where are you going?" in the sense of asking for a location, not a destination -- "Where is your going taking place? What is the location of your going?"
And you wanted to just say 'Home'.. Would you respond with 'Nach Hause' or 'Zu Hause'?
nach Hause, since it's a destination.
zu Hause is a location ("at home").
So if someone asks you, Wo bist du gerade? ("Where are you right now?"), asking for a location rather than a destination, that's when you might answer zu Hause. "at home."