Special German Prepositions (auf, an)

German prepositions are an issue. I can see that because there are many of them, each with different meanings and uses, and on top of that, you have to memorize the cases they take… But:

  1. Look this post for accusative and dative prepositions
  2. and this one for genitive prepositions.
  3. Here you can see the contractions of all the prepositions with the definite article! 😉

In this post, I’m going to concentrate on fixed expressions with the German prepositions auf and an because we use them very often and they correspond to different prepositions in English.

A. auf (on, at, in)

  1. auf der Arbeit sein (be at work)
  2. auf dem Bild/Foto sein/sehen (be/see [something/someone] in the image/picture/photo)
  3. auf der Seite/Website (on the page/website), auf der rechten Seite (on the right side)
  4. ein Boot auf dem See/Teich (a boat on the lake)
  5. auf dem Berg but in den Bergen (on a mountain but in the mountains)
  6. auf Kreta, auf einer Insel (in Crete, in an island)
  7. auf der Straße fahren (drive in the street) but in der Straße + street name wohnen (live in name + street) and an der Straße stehen (stand alongside/at the street, see below)
  8. auf der Toilette, auf dem Klo/WC (on the toilet)
  9. auf der Bank/Post (also used bei or in with no meaning change)
  10.  auf seinem Zimmer (also used in with no meaning change)
  11. auf der Mauer (on the wall [outside a house])

2. an (at, by, along[side])

  1. Next to water (being there → dative case): am Fluss (by/at the river), am Meer (by the sea), an der Nordsee (by the North Sea), am See (by the lake); (going there → accusative case): Wir fahren ans Meer. (We are going to the sea.) [Remember: die See = sea, der See = lake!]
  2. On the ground next to water (being there): am Strand, am Ufer, an der Küste; going there → accusative case: Wir gehen an den Strand. (We are going to the beach.)
  3. an der Straße (along[side] the street)
  4. an der (Straßen-)Ecke (at the [street] corner)
  5. an der Wand (at the wall [inside a house])
  6. am (Stadt-/Wald-/Tisch-/Teller-)Rand: at the border (of a city/wood/table/plate, etc.)