German Grammar Explained /

Prepositions of Place

The German preposition in can be used to indicate two different things in English:
1. "TO": I go to the pharmacy. → Ich gehe in die Apotheke.
2. "IN": I'm in the pharmacy. → Ich bin in der Apotheke.
Locative prepositions, often called "Prepositions of Place" (on, behind, in, beside, over, etc.) give information about the place and direction (from where, to where). They answer the following questions:
where? → wo?
where to? → wohin?
Prepositions of place in German are also used to distinguish between something that is somewhere and not moving and something that is moving towards a place.
Let's look at some examples:
Masculine:
Wo bist du? Where are you?
Wohin gehst du? Where are you going?
Ich bin in dem Supermarkt. (in + dem = im) I am in the supermarket.
Ich gehe in den Supermarkt. I am going to the supermarket.
Feminine:
Wo bist du?
Wohin gehst du?
Ich bin in der Apotheke. I am in the pharmacy.
Ich gehe in die Apotheke. I am going to the pharmacy.
Neuter:
Wo bist du?
Wohin gehst du?
Ich bin in dem Museum. (in + dem = im) I am in the museum.
Ich gehe in das Museum. (in + das = ins) I am going to the museum.
Plural:
Wo bist du?
Wohin gehst du?
Ich bin in den Ferien. I am on holiday.
Ich gehe in die Ferien. I am going on holiday.
The same concept applies to all the other German prepositions of place, not just to in.
in
to, in
auf
on
über
above
unter
below
neben
next to
zwischen
(in) between
vor
in front of
hinter
behind
Grammar fun-facts: 1. We call these changes in the articles "cases". The first basic case is "nominative": der, die, das, die.
2. The "accusative case" den, die, das, die is used after local prepositions if it is the answer to the question WOHIN? (English: where to?)
3. Then, the "dative case" dem, der, dem, den is needed after local prepositions, but in case it's the answer to the question WO? (English: where?)