How to use im, am or um in German? Let me explain!

One area where many students make mistakes in German are the three prepositions "im", "am, and "um". Even though I already discussed the Two-Way Prepositions "in" and "an" and the Accusative only preposition "um" elsewhere, it is worth focussing on their temporal meanings and explain their usage. The following infographic shows howe we use them.

"Im" and "am" are contractions of the prepositions in/an and the article "dem" for the masculine Dative case. Why Dative? Because both two-way prepositions take the Dative case whenever there is no change in location implied by the verb. As we're using these two prepositions in a temporal context here, there is no change in location.

Let's look at some examples.

If someone asks you "wieviel Uhr ist es?", you would answer with "um".

Answering the question "are you free on Thursday?", you would use "am"

When are you normally going on holiday? Your response may be "im Sommer" (or any other reason)

And when someone asks me when I was born, I would say "Ich bin am 2. Juli 1982 geboren".

Do not confuse am Morgen with morgens though. They mean different things!

All clear? Leave me a comment if not and I'll be happy to help.

Would you like to learn about Dative and Genitive only prepositions? No problem, just click on the links to my posts.

We also explain why girl is neutral in German and the most important gender rules in the language, how to use articles and cases in German, the infamous German word order, the difference between direct and indirect questions, which online German dictionaries are worth using, which apps are good to learn German, and we give you 5 good reasons why you should learn German with us.

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