"in die Innenstadt"

Hi guys i'm a begginer in German, I don't understand the use of "in" in these sentences and why don't we use zu,zur,zum ..etc instead ? I mean is there a difference in meaning or what ? " Thomas fährt in die Innenstadt" ," die Straßenbahn fährt in die Innenstadt" , "kommst du mit in die stadt?" ," der Bus fährt vom bahnof in die Innenstadt" and how would you translate "kommst du mit in die stadt" to English

February 17, 2017


Sorted by top post

In English you don't have the accusative and dative cases of nouns and therefore you must compensate this shortage with additional prepositions :)

In German with the preposition "in" you can use the same words in accusative and in dative cases and the case will define the actual meaning, if it's about moving somewhere or about standing still somewhere.

"in + accusative" will be translated into English as "in to". In German "zu" would be just superfluous, because the accusative case already conveys the necessary meaning of moving in some direction.

"in + dative" will be translated into English as "in". The dative case indicates that there is no movement in some specific direction involved, we are talking about something taking place somewhere.

"kommst du mit in die stadt?" is translated as "are you coming (along) to town?".

Some additional examples:

  • ich fahre in die Stadt (accusative) = I am driving to (literally into) the city;
  • ich fahre in der Stadt (dative) = I am driving in the city;
  • ich gehe ins (=in das) Gebäude (accusative) = I am going into the building = I am entering the building (please note, that you do not use the preposition "into" with the verb "to enter" in English, it would be superfluous);
  • ich bleibe im (=in dem) Gebäude (dative) = I am staying in the building;
February 18, 2017

excellent explanation, thank you so much

Similar sounding prepositions in German and English have an overlap in meaning but there are many, many cases where they are used in different ways.

"in" plus dative is usually identical to the English "in", but "in" plus accusative usually means a movement towards or into something.

Basically there are three drifferent prepositions used in German when it comes to „going/driving/moving/etc. to someplace”: “in”, “zu” and “nach”

  1. “nach” is used if you go to a specific geographical location that has a name. countries, cities, states, islands …

- Ich gehe nach Hamburg - I go to Hamburg - Ich fliege nach England - I fly to England

Exception: This rule doesn’t apply if there’s an article in the name of the place you’re referring to, for example “The Netherlands” (Die Niederlande”) In this case you have to use the preposition “in” instead of “nach”.

  • Ich fahre in die Niederlande - I drive to the Netherlands.

  • if the place has a name - use „nach“

  • if the name includes an article (“Die Niederlande”, “Die USA”, “Die Kanarischen Inseln”) - use “in”

Exeption 2: „Nach“ is also used for „home“. “I go home”  “Ich gehe nach Hause” Even though “home” is not a specific geographical place

  1. „zu“ litteraly translates to „to“ and it’s used if you go to a specific defined place, e.g. the library (die Bibliothek), the Museum (Das Museum) or the trainstation (Der Bahnhof).

- Ich gehe zur (zu der) Bibliothek - I go to the library - Ich gehe zum (zu dem) Museum - I go to the museum - Ich gehe zum (zu dem) Bahnhof - I go to the station

Also, “zu” is used when referring to a building/location that has a name e.g. the name of a store/school/etc. - I go to Aldi - „Ich gehe zu Aldi“ instead of “Ich gehe nach Aldi” (But even many native speakers make this mistake when referring to names of supermarkets ;)

Also “zu” is used when you’re going to a person, regardless whether the person has a name or is more generally referred to (my aunt “meine Tante”, the German-teacher “der Deutschlehrer”)

Note: When referring to a person the same sentence can have two meanings. “Ich gehe zu meiner Tante” can either be used if said aunt is somewhere in the building and you literally go to her or it can be used to say “I go to my aunts place”

  1. “in” literally translates to "in" or“into”. “In” can be used for the same locations as “zu” but the sentence then has a slightly different meaning.

“Ich gehe zur Bibliothek” means “I go to the library” as in “I go to that building but my way ends right at the door” “Ich gehe in die Bibliothek” on the other hand means “I go into the library” as in “I am entering the buidling”.

Also “in” is always used when you move to a unspecific geographical place that doesn’t have a name, e.g. “the city” (die Stadt), “the village” (das Dorf) “the inner city” (Die Innenstadt), “the mountains” (Die Berge), …

  • Ich fahre in die Berge - I drive to the mountains

Personal Note/Disclaimer: I didn’t take these “rules” out of a book or something like that. This is simply me as a native speaker trying to make sense of “when to use which preposition”

"In die innenstadt" would be 'In the innercity'

"Zur innenstadt" would be 'To the inntercity'

Zu/zur/zum = to/to the

In = in

Wouldn't "in die Innenstadt" be closer to "into the inner city"? I think "in the inner city" should be "in der Innenstadt".

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