German prepositions: Wechselpräpositionen

1. What are German “Wechselpräpositionen”?

2. List of German Wechselpräpositionen

4. Repetition: Dative and accusative case

5. Example Sentences

6. Exercises for German prepositions with dative and accusative

1. What are German “Wechselpräpositionen”

German prepositions are governed by a case – dative, accusative or genitive. In this blog, we focus on the most difficult prepositions: two-way-prepositions or, in German, Wechselpräpositionen (wechseln = to change).

There are different types of prepositions:
1. Prepositions with Dative.
2. Prepositions with Accusative
3. Prepositions with Genitive
4. “Wechselpräpositionen” that use either Accusative or Dative.

The concept of these two-way-prepositions is not known in English, this is why you really have to understand what they are about.

Learn with the PDF German prepositions Wechselpräpositionen
Go to the youtube-Video Wechselpräpositionen

Dative case
answers the question: Where (wo) is something/someone.

 Bildschirmfoto 2014-10-26 um 09.46.37

Accusative case
answers the question: where to (wohin) is something/someone going, running, etc. You always have two places: A and B. The movement goes from A to B. (for example from the street into the restaurant, from the restaurant to the bar etc.)

Bildschirmfoto 2014-10-26 um 09.47.15




        attention-in-blue-md In some grammar books, you find the difference between movement (Dative) – no movement (Accusative).
This is wrong. If you have learned it, try to figure out the correct concept. Otherwise, you might get confused!
You can have a lot of movement at one place (where): Where do you run/swim/go for a walk?
I am swimming in a pool. This is definitely a movement, isn’t to? But it is a movement at one place, the pool. For a clearer understanding, have a look at the example sentences and the video.
However, with accusative, you always have a movement.
With Dative, it is no movement and sometimes also movement!

2. List of German Wechselpräpositionen

1 an  at Das Bild hängt an der Wand The picture hangs at the wall
2 auf       on Die Maus ist auf dem Tisch The mouse is at the table
3 hinter      behind Das Glas steht hinter der Maus The glas is behind the mouse.
4 in    in Die Blumen sind in der Vase The flowers are in the vase
5 neben    next to Die Maus ist neben dem Schrank The mouse is next to the cupboard
6 über      over Die Lampe hängt über dem Tisch The lamp hangs above the table
7 unter    under Die Maus ist unter dem Tisch The mouse is under the table
8 vor before Die Katze ist vor der Vase The cat is in front of the vase
9 zwischen in between Die Maus ist zwischen den Büchern The mouse is between the books
German prepositions

German prepositions


4. Repetition: Dative and accusative case

Articles in the Nominative Case  Articles in the Dative Case Articles in the Accusative Case
der / ein dem / einem den / einen                      
die / eine der / einer die / eine
das / ein dem / einem das / ein
 Plural: die / –  Plural: den / –  Plural: die / –


pronouns in the
Nominative Case
Dative Case Accusative Case
ich mir mich      
du dir dich
er, sie, es ihm, ihr, ihm ihn, es, sie
wir uns uns
ihr euch euch
sie/Sie (informal/formal) ihnen/Ihnen sie/Sie


the possessive articles in dative are builded according the indefinite article:
masculine:meinem, deinem, seinem, ihrem, unserem, eurem, ihrem.
feminine: meiner, deiner,…
neutral – as masculine
plural: meinen, deinen,…

the possessive articles in accusative are builded according the indefinite article:
masculine:meinen, deinen, seinen, ihren, unseren, euren, ihren.
feminine: meine, deine,…–> no changes
neutral – as masculine –> no changes
plural: meine, deine,…

5. Example Sentences

Wo? A. Where are the mice? DATIVE Wohin? A–>B. Where did the mice run? ACCUSATIVE
Die erste Maus ist neben dem Schrank. Die erste Maus ist hinter den Schrank gerannt. (ran into)
Die zweite Maus ist vor der Tasse. Die zweite Maus ist in die Tasse gehüpft. (jumped into)
Die dritte Maus ist vor dem Regal. Die dritte Maus ist hinter das Regal gerannt.
Die vierte Maus ist zwischen den Büchern. Die vierte Maus ist hinter die Bücher gehüpft.
Wo? Dative

Wo? Dative

Wohin? Accusative

Wohin? Accusative

6. Exercises for German prepositions with dative and accusative

1. Watch the video to do your first exercises.

2. For interactive exercises, go to this blog entry.

3. Have you understood the concept? Then, do the following exercise: Otto (=German first name)
Otto joggt in den Wald
Otto joggt im Wald

What is the difference? Try to think how his path will look like. See the solution at the end of the video.