German Lessons


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.


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.

Plural vs. Singular Nouns

This week, we're going to take a look at a few nouns that are automatically plural in English but singular in German. It is important for English speakers to take note of these before the wrong conjugation gets used, or an article gets left out.


A classic example of this is die Brille, which unlike its English translation "the glasses" is singular in German:


Wo ist meine Brille?

Where are my glasses?

Caption 3, Nicos Weg - Folge 21: Was ist das?

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As you can see, the third person singular form of sein is used with die Brille, and NOT the third person plural like in English. Die Brillen sind... would indicate multiple pairs of glasses.


There are quite a few of these nouns, for example, die Hosedas Geschirr, and die Schere:


Ich habe mir auch gleich eine neue Hose gekauft.

I just bought myself new trousers as well.

Caption 23, Pettersson und Findus - Eine Geburtstagstorte für die Katze - Part 3

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Hier gibt's viel Geschirr, aber ich glaub, Christiane hat genug Geschirr.

There are a lot of dishes here, but I believe Christiane has enough dishes.

Caption 37, Fine - bringt ihre Sachen vorbei

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Das hier ist eine Schere, mit der kann ich Metall schneiden.

These here are scissors with which I can cut metal.

Caption 5, Feuerwehr Heidelberg - Löschfahrzeug - Part 2

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While we say "the police are" in English, the noun is actually singular in German. Take a look at the conjugation of ermitteln below:


Die Polizei ermittelt wegen Hausfriedensbruch

The police are investigating because of [criminal] trespassing

Caption 12, Atomkraft - Streit um AKW-Laufzeiten

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Further Learning
Take a note of any similar nouns you find on Yabla German and make sure to memorize them. Can you find any nouns that follow the opposite pattern?


Ruf die Polizei!

Not to be alarmist, but with police troubles in the USA and the rest of the troubles around the world, this might be a good time to note that although the noun "the police" is always plural in English, the noun die Polizei is dealt with quite differently in German.



Die Polizei ermittelt wegen Hausfriedensbruch.

The police are investigating because of [criminal] trespassing.

Caption 12, Atomkraft - Streit um AKW-Laufzeiten

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Ruh dich aus, bis die Polizei kommt.

Relax until the police come.

Caption 15, Die Pfefferkörner - Eigentor - Part 6

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Die Polizei sprach von hunderttausend Menschen.

The police spoke of one hundred thousand people.

Caption 4, Papst Benedikt - Erster Rücktritt eines Papstes in der Neuzeit

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In English, there is no singular for the noun "the police", but in the German die Polizei, there is no plural noun form. As you can see in the above examples: die Polizei ermittelt, die Polizei kommt, and die Polizei sprach, the conjugations of the verbs used reflect a singular noun.


Further Learning
Do a search for the noun Polizei on Yabla German and see the many examples of how this word is used in German in a real world context! 

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