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The adverbs of location and direction in German


Today we will talk about the adverbs of location and directions in German.

Let’s start with adverbs that answer the question “wo? (location):

Vorne – in front;
Hinten – behind;
Oben – above;
Unten – below;
Rechts – right;
Links – left.


Ich stehe vorne – I am stanying in front;
Links ist ein Restaurant – left side is a restaurant…
Note that adverbs are not prepositions (“before…”, “above…”), nouns are not used after adverbs. If you have to say that you are standing in front of something, you need to use the preposition: “ich stehe vor einem Auto” – “I am staying in front of a car”.

The second group is the adverbs that answer the question “wohin? (direction):

Nach vorne – forward;
Nach hinten – backwards;
Nach oben – up;
Nach unten – down;
Nach rechts – to the right;
Nach links – to the left.
We only add the preposition “nach”, which indicates the direction of movement.

The “nach” preposition is used to answer the direcion-questions if we have a word that is used without an article. We say “nach Deutschland” – “to Germany”, but “in die Schweiz” – “to Switzerland” (because Switzerland is used with the article). That’s why we use “nach” to make the adverbs of direction out of the adverbs of location. The adverbs are used without an article.

There are other adverbs “draußen” – “outside” (location) and “drinnen” – “inside” (location). Therefore, to make them adverbs of direction we add “nach”: “mir ist kalt, ich gehe nach drinnen” – “I’m cold, I’m going inside”.

And now let’s talk about how adverbs change with the help of the attachment “hin” (expresses the direction from the speaker – “there”) and “her” (expresses the direction to the speaker – “here”). On the same principle: “wo? – “Where?” (indicates the place), “wohin?” – “Where to?” (indicates the direction of the speaker), “woher? – “From where?” (indicates the direction to the speaker).

Let’s look at examples:

Ich bin drinnen, komm herein – I am inside, come here (to me);
Ich bin drinnen, komm hinaus – I’m in, get out of here (from me);
Ich bin draußen, komm heraus – I’m outside, come out (to me);
Ich bin draußen, komm hinein – I’m outside, come inside (from me).
We said before that we could use the adverbs “nach draußen” – “outside” (direction) and “nach drinnen” – “inside” (direction), but they do not express the direction from/to the speaker.

The following adverbs: “dort (da)” – “there” (location), “dorthin (dahin)” – “there” (direction) and “dorther (daher)” – “from there”. By adding “-hin” or “-her”, we already express that this is not a location, but a direction.

Bist du schon dort (zu Hause)? – Are you already there (at home)?
Ja, ich gehe dorthin (nach Hause) – yes, I go there (home);
Ich bin gerade dorther (aus dem Haus) gekommen – I just came from there (from home).
By adding “hin” and “her” you can also replace other adverbs:

hinauf – upwards (from the speaker) / herauf – upwards (to the speaker) = nach oben – upwards;
hinunter – down (from the speaker) / herunter – down (to the speaker) = nach unten – down;
You can also use “-wärts” to make adverbs of direction:

vorwärts = nach vorne – forward;
rückwärts = nach hinten – backwards.

The adverbs of direction and location are one of the many adverbs in German. Here you will find many similar grammar materials.

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