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The Preposition "to" in German: Part 4 — auf

You may be familiar with auf as a preposition meaning "on" or "for." However, like the prepositions nach, in, and an, there are times when its meaning is "to" (accusative) and "at" (dative) and you will see it translated as such.

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Viele machen sich's gemütlich zu Hause oder sie gehen auf eine Party.

Many people will make themselves comfortable at home or they will go to a party.

Caption 93, Silvester - Vorsätze für das neue Jahr - Linkenheim

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Yes, in German we say auf eine Party gehen ("to go to a party") and also auf eine Hochzeit gehen ("to go to a wedding"). 

There are certain public places for which auf is used as well. In the sentence below, der Markt refers to the consumer market, but you would also say Ich gehe auf den Markt to tell your friend that you are going to an outdoor farmer's market, and Ich bin auf dem Markt (with dative) once you have arrived there. 

 

Und einige der neuen Fahrzeuge, die jetzt auf den Markt kommen,

And you will see some of the new vehicles that are now coming on to the market

werden Sie erstmals bei dieser IAA sehen.

for the first time at this IAA.

Captions 44-45, Internationale Automobilausstellung - IAA in Frankfurt öffnet die Pforten

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As you might imagine, auf is also used when we will end up on or on top of something. If you remember our previous newsletter on the preposition in, the second example below might be quite confusing. But indeed, we say in die Berge when driving into/towards the mountains and auf den Berg when referring to climbing a single mountain.

 

Die Aktivisten kletterten über Kräne auf das Dach des Gebäudes.

The activists climbed via cranes onto the roof of the building.

Caption 8, Atomkraft - Streit um AKW-Laufzeiten

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Am besten steigen wir auf den Berg.

It's best if we climb the mountain.

Caption 9, JoNaLu - Ein Tag am Meer

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And finally, auf is also used with islands. 

 

Die Urlauber, die jetzt auf die Insel kommen, lassen sich den Wind um die Nase pusten.

The vacationers who come now to the island let the wind blow over their faces.

Caption 2, Die Insel Fehmarn - Gästeboom

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Further Learning
Other places and nouns that are commonly paired with the preposition auf when they are the destination include der Spielplatz, der Fußballplatz, der Flussdie Messe, and der Turm. Don't forget that auf is also a two-way preposition, so you will also see it used with the dative on Yabla German to describe location.

"Pulling Balance"

The noun die Bilanz sounds similar to the English word "balance" and is often translated thus, in the sense of a "financial balance" or a "balance sheet," as opposed to getting dizzy and losing your balance, which is das Gleichgewicht. You might occasionally run into the phrase Bilanz ziehen, which sounds a bit odd if you were to translate it literally as "pull balance." Its real meaning becomes clearer when we see the phrase used in some different contexts:

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Fehmarn kann eine erfreuliche Bilanz ziehen: Es kamen zweitausendneun zehn Prozent mehr Gäste.

Fehmarn strikes a happy balance: ten percent more guests came in two thousand nine.

Caption 3, Die Insel Fehmarn - Gästeboom

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Zeit, Bilanz zu ziehen.

It's time to strike a balance.

Caption 9, Fortuna Düsseldorf - Kreißsaal für Fußballfans

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Seit knapp neun Jahren gibt es die Berliner Band, da ist es an der Zeit, einmal Bilanz zu ziehen.

The Berlin band has existed for almost nine years, so it's about time to strike a balance.

Captions 3-4, Culcha Candela - zieht Bilanz

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Although I had long assumed—incorrectly—that "to strike a balance" had to do with physical balancing (die Gleichgewicht), in fact the Oxford English Dictionary defines the phrase as meaning "to determine the exact difference, if any, between the two sides of an account," thus using the same sense of "balance" as the German die Bilanz. As with the English phrase, the German phrase too is probably used more often in a metaphorical sense.

 

The noun die Bilanz without the verb ziehen is also commonly translated thus: 

 

Neunzehnhundertachtzehn zeigt uns eine Bilanz.

Nineteen hundred eighteen shows us a result.

Caption 38, Majolika Karlsruhe - Der Bambi-Filmpreis

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Am Ende der Veranstaltung ist die Bilanz dann auch recht eindeutig.

At the end of the event, the result then is also quite clear.

Caption 64, Manga-und-Anime-Treffen - in Mainz-Kastell

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The least figurative translation of die Bilanz, however, is simply "the balance sheet."

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Further Learning
Go to Yabla German to find other examples of how the noun die Bilanz is used in a real-world context.

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