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The Preposition “an” in German

Rom wurde auch nicht an einem Tag erbaut
Rome wasn’t built in a day

Meaning of “an” in German

an means: “on”, “next to” (LOCATIVE) or it doesn’t have a translation (TEMPORAL)

"an" as a locative preposition

As a locative preposition, it means “next to”

It is used in contexts like:

Ich bin an der Wand
I’m against the wall

Ich bin am Meer
I’m next by the sea

Ich bin an der Grenze
I’m next at the border

Ich bin am Fluss
I’m next to the river

An forms part of the group of Wechselpräpositionen. This means that the preposition is accusative or dative depending on the clause.

“an” + institution (an der Schule vs in der Schule)

With some institutions such as: die Schule (the school) or die Universität (the university), the preposition “an” is used when we refer to the institution and the preposition “in” when we refer to the building:

Sie arbeiten an der Schule
They work at the shool


"an" with dative

An is dative if the prepositional complement of a place does not contain movement (location)

Ich bleibe noch am Bahnhof
I will stay at the train station

“an” with accusative

An is accusative if the prepositional complement of a place implies movement (direction)

Ich gehe mit dir ans Ende der Welt
I’ll go with you to the end of the world

“an” as a temporal preposition

its translation is "on" or "in". "an" as temporal preposition always takes the dative case.

Am Donnerstag habe ich eine Besprechung
I have a meeting on Thursday

Am Abend habe ich Schach gespielt
In the evening I played chess

Am ersten Mai ist Feiertag
The 1st of May is a holiday

Ich habe am 2. Juni Geburtstag
My birthday is on the 2nd of June

Am letzten Tag meiner Reise habe ich das Meer gesehen
I saw the sea on the last day of my trip

Exception: in der Nacht

“Nacht” does not use the preposition “an” but rather the preposition “in”

In der Nacht bin ich ein paar Mal aufgewacht
I woke up a couple times during the night

Verbs followed by the preposition "an"

  • adaptieren an (to adapt to)
  • akklimatisieren an (to acclimatize to)
  • andrücken an (to tighten against)
  • anschließen an (to connect to)
  • anstoßen an (to strike against)
  • denken an (to think about)
  • sich erinnern an (to remember)
  • glauben an (+ accusative) (to believe in)
  • grenzen an (to border with)
  • leiden an (to suffer from)
  • teilnehmen an (to participate in)
  • schicken an (to send to)
  • schreiben an (to write to)
  • vorbeimarschieren an (to parade before)
  • zweifeln an (to doubt)

Grammar of “an”

Declension of “an”

“an” does not change, just like the rest of the prepositions.


am is the contraction of (an + dem)


ans is the contraction of (an + das)