"He goes to kindergarten."
Translation:Er geht in den Kindergarten.
"Er geht in einen Kindergarten" = He attends a kindergarten - implying that there is a specific kindergarten he goes to.
"Er geht in den Kindergarten" = 1) He goes to kindergarten - talking about "using the kindergarten system", as it were, in the abstract.; 2) He is going to the kindergarten - meaning that he is going to the specific kindergarten that was previously mentioned or is clear from context.
There has already been some discussion here about the word "den", which is needed in German, but not in English if the meaning is, "He attends kindergarten". But how would you say in German, "He goes into the Kindergarten" (referring to an electrician going there to fix a faulty switch, or a parent going to see a member of staff)?
Emilie, (I'm not a native speaker) but "nach" is used in this situation normally to go to "a city, a country, or any other named inhabited settlement of region." Zu -- in this case -- is used to travel to a building. see: http://german.stackexchange.com/questions/2540/is-there-a-rule-which-preposition-to-use-for-a-place
However, one can also say "nach Hause," to go to your house. But when one is at home one can say "Zuhause." Ich bin Zuhause.
English doesn't use "the" with some places if they are used for their intended function (he goes to school = he goes there to learn / he goes to the school = he simply goes to the building, perhaps to pick someone up).
Which places these is not completely uniform (e.g. "he goes to hospital" in the UK, usually "he goes to the hospital" in the US).
Germany doesn't do this, though, and always says (the equivalent of) "he goes to the school; he goes to the kindergarten; he goes to the church; he goes into the hospital; he goes into the prison".
I know that the context is not the same, but I wonder how we would translate "He walks to the kindergarten (on foot)". Is it "Er [geht zu fuß /lauft ] nach dem Kindergarten" or would one say "Er lauft zum Kindergarten" ...?? Can someone enlighten me here? Thanks previously.
- Er geht zu Fuß zum Kindergarten.
- Er geht zum Kindergarten.
- Er läuft zum Kindergarten.
could all be used, since gehen implies "on foot" (unlike English "go", which could be by car, for example).
Using Er läuft for walking is probably more common in the south than in the north - it's more likely to mean "he runs" in the north.
I thought in always required dative.
That's not correct.
in is one of the two-way prepositions in German that can take either dative or accusative -- dative for describing a location, accusative for describing the destination of motion.
Here, the kindergarten is not the location of the going; it's the destination. So you need the accusative after in here: in den Kindergarten.