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What's the difference between zu and nach?

Hey, Can someone please explain when to use zu and when to use nach because as far as I can tell they both mean "to" but I don't understand the difference. Thanks!

June 1, 2017



Here is a good Youtube video, with lots of example sentences, to help you learn that topic.


  • 1311

Das Video war sehr gut, vielen Dank!


they are different prepositions, which mostly can't be literally translated from one language to another. Both can mean "to", but nach can also mean "after" and other things. You'll have to learn the prepositions along with the nouns or verbs they're used with.

For example, you can say Ich bin zuhause, which means "I am at home". And you can say Ich gehe nach Hause, which means "I am going (to my) home".

If you keep doing exercises, you'll eventually memorize the most common constructions, unfortunately, there is usually no easy rule for prepositions.


I'd say the OPs question is not specific enough, but I could understand that something like the sentences below were the main issue.

Ich gehe zu ihm. I go to him.

Ich gehe nach Berlin I go to Berlin.

Both use the english to; in german they use different prepositions.

Geographical names without an article use nach. Geographical names with article use in + article (exceptions are islands). Nongeographical estimations usually use zu + article (means its either zum or zur). Persons use zu.

Ich gehe nach Amerika.

Ich gehe in die Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika.

Ich gehe zu Harald.

Ich gehe zum Arzt.

All of these four would use to in english.

  • 1311

Das war sehr hilfreich, vielen Dank!

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