Accusative prepositions in German: Master german preposition für, um, gegen, durch, ohne, bis

Accusative prepositions in German: Master german preposition für, um, gegen, durch, ohne, bis

Delving into the world of German grammar, particularly the accusative prepositions, is both fascinating and crucial for anyone aiming to master the language. This article serves as a comprehensive guide to understanding and effectively using German accusative prepositions. Unravel the mysteries of this topic with this article. 

PrepositionExample sentence in GermanEnglish translation
für (for)Das Geschenk ist für die Mutter.The gift is for the mother.
um (around/at)Sie bitten um Hilfe, weil sie es alleine nicht schaffen.They ask for help because they can't do it alone.
gegen (against)Sie protestieren gegen die neue Verordnung.They are protesting against the new regulation.
durch (through)Sie fahren durch den Tunnel, um die Stadt zu erreichen.They drive through the tunnel to reach the city.
ohne (without)Tina ging ohne Jacke aus dem Haus.Tina left the house without her jacket.
bis (until, to)Er liest jeden Tag bis spät in die Nacht.He reads late into the night every day.

The Role of Prepositions in German Grammar

Prepositions are little words and placed in front of nouns or pronouns. Prepositions in German, much like in English, play a vital role in explaining the relationship between different parts of a sentence. They help to provide context, indicate direction, time, and many other aspects that are essential for conveying meaning accurately.

What Are Accusative Prepositions in German?

Accusative prepositions in German are a set of the prepositions mentioned above that always require the referring object  to be in the accusative case. This fundamental aspect of German grammar dictates how nouns and pronouns change their forms in sentences. Cases in German can be very difficult and confusing. In order to use the German cases with less mistakes, the 1 st step is to learn the prepositions. 

The List of German Accusative Prepositions

The primary accusative prepositions in German include "für" (for),"um" (around),"gegen" (against),"durch" (through),"bis" (until, to),and "ohne" (without). Each of these prepositions has specific uses and connotations, making them indispensable in everyday German communication.


"Für" is one of the most commonly used accusative prepositions in German. It's typically used to express a benefit or a purpose, similar to the English preposition “for.”.


  • Ich habe ein Geschenk für dich.  I have a present for you.
  • Ich freue mich für dich. I am happy for you.
  • Das ist für den Garten. That’s for the garden. 
  • Der Übersetzer übersetzt den Brief für sie. The translator translates the letter for her.


"Um" is another crucial accusative preposition, often used to indicate a time frame or that you are moving around something. Its correct usage can be a bit tricky. 


  • Ich komme um 17 Uhr. I'll be there at 5 pm.
  • Wir gehen um den See. We walk around the lake.

The first example is referring to time. 


"Gegen" is a versatile preposition used to express opposition, contrast, or a physical direction towards something. 


  • Er trat kraftvoll gegen den Ball. He kicked the ball powerfully.
  • Sie lehnt sich gegen die Wand. She leans against the wall.


"Durch" is typically used to indicate movement through a space or medium. This preposition is vital for describing actions and navigations in everyday conversations and writings in German.


  • Das Licht scheint durch das Glas. The light shines through the glass.
  • Der Erfolg kam durch harte Arbeit. Success came through hard work.
  • Du wirst auch durch den Park gehen. You'll also walk through the park


"Ohne" plays a unique role in German sentences, often used in negative contexts to mean “without” e.g — Der Angestellte geht ohne den Kollegen etwas essen. The employee goes out to eat without the colleague.


  • Sie reisten ohne Gepäck. They traveled without luggage.
  • Der Gerät wird ohne Gewährleistung verkauft. The device is sold without warranty.


"Bis" is a versatile preposition and conjunction in the German language, often translating to "until" or "by" in English. Its usage spans various contexts, from indicating time frames to specifying limits or destinations. 

One of the primary uses of "bis" is to denote the endpoint of a time period. It sets a boundary up to which an action or state is relevant. Although less common than its temporal use, "bis" can also indicate a physical limit or destination. 


  • Der Pfad führt uns bis an den Rand des Waldes. The path leads us to the edge of the forest.
  • Sie studiert jeden Tag bis in die späten Abendstunden. She studies every day until late in the evening.

Practical Tips to Master German Prepositions

Mastering German grammar, especially prepositions can be challenging. It makes sense to focus at the beginning on learning all accusative, dative and two-way prepositions. After this you can practice genitive prepositions, which are more difficult and less important. 

Challenges in Learning German Prepositions for English Speakers

A new language can be a challenge for everyone, also for English native speakers. English speakers often face specific challenges when learning German prepositions. 

There are some parallels between German and English prepositions, however in German prepositions can have an impact on the case and some verbs are used with other prepositions than in English which makes selecting the correct preposition essential e.g 

  • to be interested in - sich interessieren für

Expanding Your German Skills Beyond Prepositions

While prepositions are a fundamental aspect, expanding your skills to other areas of grammar and vocabulary is essential. Remember that it’s  a long way to go before you are anywhere near the level of a native speaker. Some of the most essential Grammar topics are: Word order, articles in German, Cases and Adjective declension. Make sure to focus on these topics. 

Conclusion and Key Takeaways

  • German accusative prepositions are crucial for constructing grammatically correct sentences.
  • Understanding the difference between the accusative case and dative cases is essential.
  • Regular practice is key to mastering German prepositions.


What are accusative prepositions? 

  • für, um, gegen, durch, ohne, bis

How does this topic relate to the cases in German?

  • Learning prepositions has an influence on which case you need, which is why they are so important

What are Dative prepositions? 

  • mit ,bei, von, seit, zu, außer, nach, gegenüber, aus, ab. You can read more about them in detail: Here

Do genitive prepositions play the same role? 

  • No, the genitive case and genitive prepositions are less important. 

What are two-way prepositions?

  • Either the accusative or dative are needed for certain prepositions also known as two-way prepositions (Wechselpräpositionen). You can read more about this: here.

Can a preposition have an impact on the adjective ending?

  • There is a relation between the ending of an adjective in German and the prepositions. You can read more about German adjectives : here










Article by Niko

Published 01 Feb 2024