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"Op" and "in", "bij" and "met". And "aan"

In the Places lesson I've come across this question. When referring to "(something) is at (place)" the lessons gives us either "aan" (het restaurant is aan het strand), "bij" (mijn dochter werkt bij de bank) or "op" (zij is op de boerderij). Are they interchangeable? There is some sort of a rule? If there isn't, and I have to earn them by heart could you please give me at least some guidelines?

Another question I have is when to use "bij" instead of "met". In the Prepositions lesson they gave us a sentence "wil u een ei bij uw ontbijt?". Why isn't met right in this case? Those two are interchangeable?

And finally "op" and "in" when referring to places. Things like "ik woon in de derde straat" in english would be "I live (reside) on the third street". Other examples, "uw gebouw staat op een goede locatie" english: "your building are in a good location". When to put each one?

I'll really thank you if you answered my doubts.

July 1, 2019



Perhaps this DL post will help you: (Click).
And a (very limited) list of verbs with 'their' prepositions (Click)
Most importantly: listen to Dutch and read Dutch.


I’m not sure that I’m one hundred percent right but I think that it works like this. You could use ‘bij’ if you’re talking about something which you take beside something and you use ‘met’ in you put something on or in something (usually food). I can’t explain why but the words are not interchangeable. Edit: bij and met are ‘signaalwoorden’ English translation: ‘signal words’ which signal that there’s a part of the ‘lijdend voorwerp’ (I don’t know how to translate without you knowing what I mean) also known as: dative case


As a dutchie I think I should know this, but the truth is that our language is very confusing and many things are just learned by common sense rather than rules. For Dutch people the prepositions seem logical without even thinking about it. If we look at your first example, I'd say that you can either use 'aan', 'bij' or 'op' het strand. The only difference is that 'aan' refers to a restaurant on the street near the beach, 'bij' refers to a place near the beach (you don't know where exactly) and 'op' refers to literally ON the beach. So it depends on what you mean to say. Usually 'aan' is used for the beach. Regarding the difference between 'op' and 'in' I don't have a logical explanation. Dutch and English are not the same languages and we just tend to do things the other way like driving, numbers... I wish I could tell you about the rules but there are no rules. I hope this kinda helped. Just know that there isn't always a rule but many things are just the way they are without a certain reason :)


In Dutch, an explanation when to use op, in and aan in combination with the name of a street: https://onzetaal.nl/taaladvies/op-in-aan-de-herenstraat/

If the name ends at straat (street), laan (lane), weg (road), kade (quay), gracht (canal), singel (canal) or plein (square) all three are possible, with a preference to "aan". If the name end at steeg (alley) "in" is preferred. However, when you have a street plus a house number, you usually would use "op".

"bij" (mijn dochter werkt bij de bank) "op" (zij is op de boerderij)

when you refer to a location, we (usually) use op. Werken bij and werken voor are both possible (as in english: working at and working for)


Sometimes they are :) in this example: 1) Het restaurant is aan het strand (directly located), het restaurant is (vlak)bij het strand) (nearby/directly located next to) 2) mijn dochter werkt BIJ de bank. 'op' de bank is when you are laying on the couch. BIJ (at) de bank means that she is working at the bank(office) for instance at the ING Bank. 3) zij is OP de boerderij. Here is OP replacable with 'bij'

there is actualy a mistake: wil(T) u een ei bij uw ontbijt? in this sentence. Met sound a bit to childish in this sentence. There isn't really a rule. Example: wilt u koffie MET melk (would you like coffee with milk).

Generaly speaking: in is a bit more specific than op. But it depends on the word wherefore it is used. You can't be OP de straat in that sentence because 'op de straat' means on the street (hanging out), not living on the street. Here you choose IN because you refer to a specific location in the street.

LMK if you have any questions! :)


You can't be OP de straat in that sentence because 'op de straat' means on the street (hanging out), not living on the street.

In the example given by Valen_002 it is not the name of a street (The 3rd street). it looks like a kind of direction (waar woon je? Ik woon in de derde straat links). However in combination with a street name "op" is certainly possible, although "aan" or even "in" might be preferred, eg "Ik woon op de Oude Gracht" or "Hij woont op de Kerklaan"


There is a similar discussion in the German forum on the use of 'bei' (bij) en 'mit' (met). Generally speaking, 'bij' is used to say that you are physically with someone and 'met' is used when you mean to say you are being or doing something together with a person. So there, the person is more important than the location.

Ik ben bij mijn buurvrouw in het ziekenhuis. (I am with my neighbour in the hospital). You'd say this in answer to your boss, when s/he phones to ask why you are not at your workplace. It is just to explain that you found her lying on the ground and took her to the hospital, but now her daughter has arrived, so you'll be on your way to work. Or some such thing.

Ik ben met Michiel in het ziekenhuis. I am in the hospital with Michael. Here, it is about Michiel who is apparently unwell. The reply would be something like: OMG, I hope it is nothing serious?

In work you can say that you work 'bij' or 'voor' or 'met' an organisation. But in the first two cases, it means that you are employed by that organisation. If you say you work 'met' an organisation you mean that you have work-related interactions with them, but you are not payed by them.

Ik werk bij de Jellinek en ik werk vaak met het Leger des Heils. I work for the Jellinek (Addiction care organisation) and I often work with the Salvation Army (to get them care that Jellinek does not provide and they do).

'Aan' when used to denote a location means 'on the border of'. So, you can live 'aan' a street (if it is big enough, you do not really use it for ordinary streets), 'aan het strand' (beach) 'aan een rivier' (river), aan het water, and 'aan een gracht' (Although people also say 'op' een gracht (canal).

'Op' is used if you are literally on something. You live 'op een heuvel' (on a hill). You use 'in' if something is seen as something where being in it seems more logical than being on it. 'Hij woont in het bos' (he lives in the forest). Ons huis staat middenin the weilanden. (Our house is in the middle of the fields).

Ik woon in het tweede blok aan de linkerkant. (I live in the second block (of appartements) on the left.) Ik woon op de vierde verdieping. (I live on the fourth flour). Ik woon bij het park (close to the park, perhaps in a street that leads to it). Ik woon aan het park (on the border of the park, either your backdoor or your front door opens more or less out into the park). Mijn hotel is in het park (the hotel where you are staying is actually in the park). Ik woon met mijn broer en twee studievrienden in 1 huis. (I live with my brother and two study mates in 1 house.)

As for 'op een goede locatie' vs 'in een goede locatie'. Both can be used, but as soon as you are talking about an actual building, 'op' would probably be used. In fact, in most cases you'd use 'op', but I have heard 'in een goede locatie'. Can't think of a specific case where that would be more natural, right now though.

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I don't agree with your hospital example and would interpret them otherwise, I guess that goes to show how complex the topic is.

My two cents (for some cases) are: Bij: the 2nd object is seperate from the first Met: The 1st and second object form some sort of unity.

examples: een tosti met kaas vs kaas bij de tosti I feel these two are clearly different, a grilled cheese sandwich vs cheese with my grilled cheese sandwich

Koffie met melk vs Melk bij de koffie These two are more subtle, I would expect coffee with milk in it vs koffie with a small can of milk next to it that I can add if I want.


Your explanation of 'bij' and 'met' actually is exactly what my hospital example is about, only explained somewhat differently. I agree with your food examples.

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