The prepositions ‘zu’ and ‘nach’

Whist learning German, grammatical queries do come up. I would like use this opportunity to illustrate another topic that students ask me during their German courses: What is the different usage of the prepositions ‘zu’ and ‘nach’? The preposition ‘nach’ can mean after when used with time; for example: Nach dem Fußballspiel gehen wir ein Bier trinken. 

But it has another meaning and in use with location the preposition ‘nach’ means to or towards. The preposition ‘zu’ however has the same meaning but its usage is different.

When going in the direction of a geographical place like a town, country or an area, then we use nach; for example: Wir fahren nach Berlin. Sie fliegen nach Frankreich. When going to a place or seeing a person then we use ‘zu’; for example: Ich gehe zum Arzt. Die Kinder fahren zur Schule.

German also uses the proposition ‘in’ plus Accusative when going in the direction of a town, country or an area, but only when this is used with its article. That applies to masculine, feminine or plurals only. Here a few examples: Wir fahren in den Schwarzwald, in die Schweiz oder in die USA.

I hope that clears things up. Do get in touch if you have more questions or would like to take one of our online German courses.

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