"He led us to the train station."
Translation:Er führte uns bis zum Bahnhof.
Bis zum: This is somehow an end, the person that led you there leaves or stops leading or something. Its until you reach the estimation Bahnhof and then the action ends or something else changes.
Zum: A more neutral way and would be used if the person leads you somewhere else afterwards AND also when its just to the Bahnhof, then both could be used, but this does not transport the information that then the action ends.
The English sentence does not imply that the action necessarily ended at the station
Because it's the wrong preposition -- we use nach with cities, countries, and continents (as long as they don't have an article) as well as in the phrase nach Hause, but we don't use it with buildings, shops, or other sites such as railway stations or airports.
I see "fuhrte... in..." can't be used here, though I feel subtle difference between them, "lead... along.." vs "lead into" perhaps, but is it that significant for native German speakers (that they depend on these to accurately describe the exact situation)?
There is no verb fuhren in German, so er fuhrte doesn't mean anything.
er führte uns zum Bahnhof means "he led us to the train station".
er führte uns in den Bahnhof means "he led us into the train station".
In the first case, the leading ended outside the train station, when you were "at" the train station; in the second case, the leading ended inside the train station, when you were "in" it.
I'm interested in the case-marking of the destination in this phrase versus this one:
"Ich führte den Richter in die Stadt"
Is it correct to say that the destination is dative here because it has an endpoint, whereas in the example for this question, the action stops at the destination? Also, does "bis zu" always force the dative case?
zu always takes the dative case, including when it's in bis zu.
Ich führte den Richter in die Stadt uses the accusative case after in because die Stadt is the destination of the motion führen -- I led the judge into the city.
If you had used the dative, Ich führte den Richter in der Stadt would mean "I led the judge in the city", i.e. die Stadt is not a destination of movement but is just a location: the leading took place entirely within the city. Presumably you led him around in the city -- but you did not lead him from outside the city to the inside.
My first thought when translating this from "He led us to the train station" was that we are dealing with movement from one place to another, and therefore I should say "den Bahnhof". But "zu" takes the dative. That's very confusing. Is this (zu = dativ) just a quirk of German, which even German speakers acknowledge is kind of strange? Or am I missing something obvious?
German speakers don't think about. It's just how zu works and so it seems completely natural to them.
How many English speakers think about the fact that we say "in ten minutes" but not "ago ten minutes" but instead "ten minutes ago"? Why is "ago" a postposition? Isn't think something even English speakers acknowledge is kind of strange? -- I'd wager that your average English speaker never gives it a second thought; they've been saying "ten minutes ago" since they were three years old and probably can't even imagine it being any other way.
Similarly with zum Bahnhof -- that's just how it is.
Thanks for your response. Language really is fascinating! And you're right, I've never thought about "ten minutes ago". It is pretty weird, now that you mention it. :)
I think what makes it hard for these exercises is that, as a newbie, I still have to think about whether I'm going to use dative or accusative, and "zu" seems to break a rule. I'm sure any German-speaking six year old would have no trouble with it.
"Er führte uns in den Bahnhof." Wrong?
Yes, since the English has "to" and not "into".
Because gefuhren is not a German word.
The verb führen (to lead) has past participle geführt.
Had I wrote hat gefuerht (I can't figure out how to add oemlauts on this discussion page) would that have been okay?
Er hat uns zum Bahnhof geführt is one of the accepted alternatives, and I think Er hat uns zum Bahnhof gefuehrt. with ue instead of ü should also work.
Ditto with bis zum Bahnhof instead of just zum Bahnhof.