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How Do You Say "I go to..." In German? On The Prepositions Nach, In, An, Auf, And Zu

Updated: Mar 29

Where the English language uses the preposition “to” for travelling anywhere, the German language has 5 different prepositions depending on where exactly you travel. In this blog post, I will explain those five spatial prepositions and show you how to use them.



Nach - cities, most countries (without article), going home


Examples: Ich fahre nach Berlin. (I'm going/driving to Berlin).

Ich fliege nach Deutschland/Spanien/Griechenland. (I'm flying to Germany/Spain/Greece)

Ich gehe nach Hause. (I'm going home)


(NB. when you are or stay at home, you use "zu". e.g. ich bleibe zu Hause)

In - countries/regions with an article or entering locations


Examples: Ich fliege in die Schweiz/in die Türkei/die Vereinigten Staaten (die USA)/ die Niederlande (I'm fling to Switzerland/Turkey/the USA/the Netherlands)

Ich reise in die Provence/Toskana (I'm travelling to the Provence/to Tuscany)

Ich gehe in den Park/in den Supermarkt (I'm going to the park/to the supermarket)


(NB. there are other countries with an article, such as der Irak, der Iran, der Sudan, but it's best to pick them up as you progress in your German course. Most countries don't have an article, so you'd use nach)

An - coast


Examples: Ich fahre an das Meer. (I'm driving to the sea)

Ich gehe an den Strand. (I'm going to the beach)


Auf - most islands


Examples: Ich fliege auf die Malediven (I'm flying to the Maldives)

Ich fliege auf die Kanarischen Inseln. (I'm flying to the Canary Islands)


Zu - unnamed destinations and people


Examples: Ich fahre zum Supermarket. (I'm driving to the supermarket) (NB. travelling towards rather than entering).

Ich fahre zu meinen Eltern. (I'm going to my parents)

ich fahre zu meinen Freunden. (I'm going to my friends)


With regard to spatial prepositions, the difference between nach and zu and an vs. auf is difficult to understand. So I dedicated other posts to them where I provide a more detailed explanation.


Learn more about two-way prepositions, Accusative, Dative, and Genitive only prepositions on our blog. We also have a post about the prepositional phrase "in der Nähe von" and the most common temporal prepositions in German- check it out.


While the beauty of the English language lies in its simplicity, the beauty of the German language lies in its precision. Yet, its precision often makes the language a lot more complicated than English, as you can see from the above. You'll get there with practice, though.



To learn more about other grammar topics, such as German word order, the four German cases etc., just check out the other posts on our German language blog. On our German language blog, you will also find posts that compare the most popular online dictionaries Linguee, dict.cc, dict.leo and Collins and review language learning apps like Duolingo, Memrise, and Babbel. We also tell you how to say evening in German and translate many other words.


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