10+ German translations for the English word “to”

10+ German translations for the English word "to"

When you learn vocabulary it helps if there is a straight translation. For example, when it comes to learning German it’s easy to learn the word for child, because it’s ‘Kind’ – one straight translation for one word. But when it comes to prepositions, it’s a different matter. There are lots of translations and it’s sometimes difficult to work out which one to use.

This isn’t just a problem for English speakers who are learning German. This is a problem for anybody learning a foreign language.

So in this blog post we will look at this lovely little English word “to” and all the different ways to translate it into German. Enjoy ☺

  • nach
    ‘Nach’ is used when you’re travelling to a country or city, basically, when you wouldn’t use a gender with the name in English.
    Ich fahre morgen nach London. I’m driving to London tomorrow.
    Wir fliegen nach Deutschland. We’re flying to Germany.
  • in
    If, however, the country or place has a gender in German or it’s plural, you need ‘in die’.
    Ich fahre morgen in die Schweiz. I’m driving to Switzerland tomorrow.
    Wir fliegen in die USA. We’re flying to the US.
  • zu
    ‘Zu’ is used with places plus their gender. As ‘zu’ is a dative preposition it needs the dative, so you need ‘zum’ (zu & dem) or ‘zur’ (zu & der)
    Wie komme ich zum Bahnhof? How do I get to the station.
    Der Doktor schickt ihn zur Apotheke. The doctor is sending him to the chemist.
  • zu
    Das Fußballspiel endete 3 zu 1. The football game ended with 3 (to) 1. (The German team won, of course ☺)
  • an
    Ich schreibe eine E-mail an meine Mutter. I’m writing an email to my mother.
  • auf
    Ich freue mich auf meinen Urlaub. I’m looking forward to my holidays.
  • bis
    Der Unterricht ist von 18 bis 20 Uhr. The lesson is from 6 to 8 pm.
  • vor
    Es ist zehn vor neun. It’s ten to nine.
  • um … zu
    Ich mache Überstunden, um ein neues Auto zu kaufen. I’m working overtime (in order) to buy a new car.
  • gegen
    Ich hatte keine Einwände gegen die Planänderung. I had no objections to the change of plan.

There you have it, ten different ways to translate ‘to’ into German.  And there are more! Depending on the verbs used with it or the context of a sentence there are many more possibilities.

It’s up to you to learn them and get them ‘to a T’. So don’t come to me to ask more question because you didn’t want to learn them.
Es liegt an euch, sie zu lernen und sie haargenau zu lernen. Also kommt nicht zu mir, um mehr Fragen zu stellen, weil ihr sie nicht lernen wolltet.

Who says learning German is boring ☺

PS. If you would like more help with prepositions and the four cases in general, check out my Udemy course: German grammar – the four cases

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