German Contractions: Prepositions & Definite Articles

Instructor: Samantha Green

Sam is from the UK but lives in the USA, she has taught college German and has both a bachelor's and master's degree in German Studies

When we talk, most people have a tendency to want to get their ideas across as quickly and succinctly as possible. That's where contractions come in. Let's look at some of the contractions used in the German language.

What Are Contractions?

We all like to get our thoughts across as quickly as possible; that's why languages have contractions. Think words like 'can't' instead of 'cannot' or 'wouldn't' instead of 'would not'. Basically, contractions squeeze two words together and replace the missing letters with apostrophes.

The Germans are no different, but the contractions they use can be.

Prepositional Contractions

One of the most popular things to contract in German are prepositions and the definite article that comes before the noun - the word that means 'the'.

Just to remind you, prepositions are the words we use to show the relation of one thing to another, such as 'the man is on the bed'.

You also know that in German, prepositions belong to the different grammatical cases. Some are accusative, some are dative, some are even both accusative and dative - we call these two-way prepositions - and you have to consider what you're trying to say in order to decide which case to use.

We're mentioning this because the case you use affects which definite article comes after the preposition, and these are what we are contracting.

Accusative Preposition Contractions

Here's a list of contractions using accusative case prepositions:

Preposition & Article Contraction Pronunciation Translation
durch das durchs duhrchs through the
für das fürs fuehrs for the
um das ums uhms around the

Here are some example sentences so you can get a feel for them:

  • Jeden morgen laufe ich durchs Dorf. (Every morning I run through the village.)
  • Was haben Sie fürs Essen? (What do you have for food?)
  • Der Hund laufts immer ums Hause. (The dog always runs around the house.)

Translation: I run through the village every morning.
durchs Dorf

Dative Preposition Contractions

Here's a list of common dative case preposition contractions:

Preposition & Article Contraction Pronunciation Translation
von dem vom vohm from the
bei dem beim biym by the
zu dem zum zuhm to the
zu der zur zuhr to the

Now, some examples:

  • Ich hab es vom Briefträger bekommen. (I got it from the mailman.)
  • Wir müssen beim Bäcker halten. (We have to stop by the baker.)
  • Wir gehen zum Park. (We're going to the park.)
  • Geht ihr zur Schule? (Are you going to school?)

Translation: We have to stop by the bakers.
beim Bäcker

Two-Way Preposition Contractions

Finally, here's a list of common contractions of two-way prepositions:

Preposition & Article Contraction Pronunciation Translation
an das ans ahns to the
an dem am ahm at the
in dem im ihm in the
in das ins ihns into the
auf das aufs awfs onto the
vor dem vorm vohrm in front of the
hinter dem hinterm HIHN-tehrn behind the

And some examples:

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