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Learn German Prepositions - Bis, Durch

Updated on January 31, 2011

Mark Twain said, if the English language took 30 hours to be learned and French took 30 days, German would definitely take 30 years. He also suggested that the whole German grammar be changed or at least revamped. Another viable option would be to banish German from among the ranks of living languages.

As part of a deal I made with certain individuals, I have 6 months to master German. I thought it could be done, so I went for it. Now, I'm beginning to realize the truth of Twain's words. German is an awfully difficult language if you ask me, so I suggest you never learn it. But if you want to, you can now learn the German prepositions with me.

Prepositions are an important part of German. I see no point in indulging in complicated grammatical explanations as to what they are for or why they are so important. If you know what English prepositions are good for, they are the same in German.

The best way to learn German prepositions is through lots and lots of examples. There are four grammatical cases in German. They are nominative (N), accusative (A), dative (D) and genitive (G). You will notice that different prepositions require different cases to be used.

Bis + A = as far as, up to, as much as, untill

Bis is used to show movement toward a goal, be it a location, an amount, or a point in time.

bis London - as far as London,
bis hier - up to here,
bis $500 - as much as $500,
bis 1 Liter - up to 1 liter,
bis jenen frohen Tag - until that happy day,

Bis is often accompanied by a second preposition.

Gehen Sie bis an die Kreuzung.
Go up to the corner.

Wir gingen bis zum Irrgarten.
We went as far as the maze.

Sie fliegen bis über die Wolken.
They’re flying up over the clouds.

Er bleibt hier bis nach den Ferien
He’s staying here until after vacation.

Klaus wohnte vom 5. Mai bis zum 10. Juni in Bayern.
Klaus lived in Bavaria from the fifth of May until the tenth of June.

Ich möchte bis Freitag bleiben.
I'd like to stay till Friday.

Ich möchte bis nächsten Samstag bleiben.
I'd like to stay till next Saturday.

Ich möchte bis morgen bleiben.
I'd like to stay till tomorrow.

Morgen fahren wir bis Hamburg.
We are traveling to Hamburg tomorrow.

Ich werde mit dir bis an das Ende der Straße gehen.
I will go with you to the end of the street.

Wir werden den Film bis den 15. März gesehen haben.
We will have seen the Film by March 15.

Lea fragte: „Wird Lars das bis Freitag gemacht haben?“
Lea asked, "Will Lars have that done by Friday?"

Lea fragte, ob Lars das bis Freitag gemacht haben werde.
Lea asked whether Lars will have that done by Friday.

Haben Sie bitte die Unterlagen bis zur nächsten Sitzung auf.
Please, keep the documents until the next session.

Wir liefen, bis der Weg aufhörte.
We walked until the path ended.

In diesem Land werden Freiheitsstrafen von bis zu sechs Jahren ausgesprochen.
In this country, prison sentences of up to 6 years may be imposed.

Wir bedienen Sie von Montag bis Freitag, von 8 bis 17 Uhr.
We’re open for business Monday through Friday, from 8 to 17.

Der Arzt behandelt täglich 10 bis 12 Patienten.
The doctor treated 10 to 12 patients daily.

Durch + A = across, through, because of, by, via

Durch is used to identify movement through a certain space or time.

Wir laufen durch den Wald.
We run through the woods.

Ich schwimme durch den Fluss.
I swim across the river.

Ich gehe durch den Park.
I go across the park.

In der Ferne ist der Tunnel, durch den der Zug fahren wird.
In the distance is the tunnel that the train will travel through.

Sie laufen durch das Haus.
They run through the house.

Es geschieht durch die Geschichte.
It occurs throughout history.

Der Benutzer kann seine E-Mails durch den Web-Browser abholen.
The user can get his email through the web-browser.

Die Lage der Kontinente ist zum Teil durch die Kontinentaldrift bedingt.
The location of the continents is determined in part by continental drift.

Ihre Kultur wurde durch das Christentum stark beeinflusst.
Their culture was strongly influenced by Christianity.

Wir begleiten Sie auf einer Reise durch Afrika.
We will accompany you on a trip through Africa.

Dieser Verdacht hatte den Heinrich durch sein ganzes Leben begleitet.
This suspicion had bogged Henry his whole life.

Durch can sometimes follow its object.

Wir lebten den Herbst durch in Wien.
We lived through the fall in Vienna.

When used in the passive voice, durch indicates the cause of an action.

Der Mann ist durch einen Unfall getötet worden.
The man was killed due to an accident.

Durch is also used to describe the means by/durch which an action is carried out.

Wir werden die Geschenke durch die Post schicken.
We’ll send the gifts by mail.

Der Porzellantopf ist durch die zu große Hitze geborsten.
The porcelain pot burst because of the excessive heat.

Durch is also used as a prefix as part of a noun, verb, adjective, or adverb.

der Durchbruch - breakthrough
der Durchgang - passageway
durchfrieren - to become chilled through
durchschlafen - to sleep through
durchdringlich - penetrating
durchlässig - porous
durchaus - throughout, completely
durcheinander - in confusion
durchfahren - to drive through
durchlesen - to read through

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