The Preposition "nach" in German

Meaning of "nach" in German

to (locative), after (temporal), according to (modal).

The preposition "nach" is complicated because it is used in numerous different contexts with different meanings. The good thing is that it takes always dative. We’ll show you the different contexts now:

"nach" as a locative preposition (to)

"nach" + countries, cities or continents (direction)

It is used to introduce a destination. "Nach" is used with any toponym* (name of a place) that does not have an article.

Ich fahre nach Deutschland
I’m driving to Germany

Wann fliegst du nach Amerika?
When are you flying to America?

* As long as they are not natural borders (rivers, seas) or islands.

"nach" + adverb of direction

"nach" is used together with adverbs of direction:

Ich gehe nach links
I’m going to the left

List of adverbs used with "nach":

"nach" + AdverbMeaning
nach vorn / vorneforward
nach hintenbackward
nach linksto the left
nach rechtsto the right
nach obenupward
nach untendownward
nach inneninward
nach außenoutward

nach + cardinal point (direction)

"nach" is used with cardinal directions:

Die Sonne wandert von Osten nach Westen
The Sun moves from East to West

"nach" + cardinal pointMeaning
nach Nordennorthward
nach Südensouthward
nach Osteneastward
nach Westenwestward

nach Hause (direction)

nach Hause is an expression that means home (As in “I’m going home”).

Morgen fliege ich nach Hause
Tomorrow I’m flying home

Sometimes, this can even be found as an adverb in one word "nachhause".

"nach" as a temporal preposition (meaning after)

nach + hours

"Nach" is used to say the hour in German.

nach and the time

Viertel nach sieben
A quarter after seven (7:15)

Fünf nach halb drei
Two thirty-five (2:35)

"nach" + unit of time

Nach zwei Stunden war ich wieder zu Hause
After 2 hours I was home again

"nach" can be associated with units of time with "nächste" (the next) as well as with "diese" (this):

Nach der nächsten Woche
After next week

Nach diesem Monat
After this month

See units of time in German

"nach" + days of the week

nach Montag
after Monday

Die Präsidentschaftswahl findet am ersten Dienstag nach dem ersten Montag im November statt
The presidential election is taking place on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November

See the days of the week in German.

"nach" + months of the year

Nach Januar folgt Februar
After January comes February

See months of the year in Germany.

nach dem Gesetz
according to the law

Post-position nach

One of the interesting things about German is that some prepositions such as "nach" can be placed before or after the words that they affect.

You can say:

Meiner Meinung nach or nach meiner Meinung (in my opinion)

Meiner Meinung nach ist das der beste Strand der Insel
In my opinion, this is the best beach on the island

Verbs with the preposition "nach"

The most important verbs with the preposition "nach":

  • abreisen nach (to depart for)
  • bohren nach (to drill for)
  • fliegen nach(to fly to)
  • fahren nach(to drive to)
  • fragen nach (to ask for)
  • gehen nach(to go (walking) to)
  • reisen nach (to travel to)
  • riechen nach (to smell like)
  • suchen nach (to look for)
  • sehnen nach (to long for)

Grammar of "nach"

Declension of "nach"

"Nach" does not change, just like all the prepositions..

"nach" takes dative

The words that follow nach have to be declined in the dative ("nach" takes always dative).