German language in use: “I live in…” and “I go to…” – Using the appropriate articles and prepositions with German country names
In my previous post I told you that, beside continents, names of countries and cities are usually neuter in German. But there are also some exceptions. On the basis of these exceptions I’d like show you how the gender of nouns and their respective articles can affect your sentences.
I told you that neuter country and city names do not require the neuter article “das” in German sentences. For example, you do not say:
“Das Deutschland liegt in Europa”
“Deutschland liegt in Europa.” – Germany is located in Europe.
This is different with country names that require a masculine or feminine article. Compare:
“Der Libanon liegt in Vorderasien.” – “Lebanon is located in the Middle East.”
“Der Jemen liegt auf der Arabischen Halbinsel.” – “Yemen is located on the Arabian Peninsula.”
“Die Schweiz ist ein Nachbarstaat Deutschlands.” – “Switzerland is a neighboring country of Germany.”
“Die Türkei liegt in Europa und Asien.” – “Turley is located in Europe and Asia.”
As you can see, it is necessary that you use the names of these countries with their respective article, otherwise your sentence is incomplete. In case that you are a native speaker of English, you can find a similar rule in your language. For example, the term “Netherlands” is always used with the article “the”: “the Netherlands” (die Niederlande). So, when you omit the masculine and feminine article in the German examples above, it always sounds a bit strange.
1. How to say “to live in…”
When you want to say in German that you “live in” a particular place you cannot always merely use the German preposition “in”. You rather have to modify the article “in” according to gender and case.
a) with neuter country or city names
When you want to say that you live in a particular country (or city) that requires the neuter article in German, you simple use the preposition “in”.
Ich lebe/wohne in Deutschland. – I live in Germany.
Ich lebe/wohne in Spanien. – I live in Spain.
Ich lebe/wohne in Chicago. – I live in Chicago.
Ich lebe/wohne in Berlin. – I live in Berlin.
b) with masculine country or city names
When you live, for example, in Yemen or Lebanon you cannot use the German preposition “in”, but have to use the preposition “im”, which is the contracted form of in+dem => im.
Ich lebe im Libanon. – I live in Lebanon.
Ich lebe im Jemen. – I live in Yemen.
c) with feminine country or city names
When you live in countries that require the feminine article in German, for example, Switzerland, Slovakia, or Turkey you have to use the preposition “in” plus the article “der”.
Ich lebe in der Schweiz. – I live in Switzerland.
Ich lebe in der Slowakei. – I live in Slovakia.
Ich lebe in der Türkei. – I live in Turkey.
d) in the Netherlands
Just like in English, the German designation “die Niederlande” (the Netherlands) is a plural noun. Therefore, the article has to be modified.
Ich lebe in den Niederlanden. – I live in the Netherlands.
2. How to say “to go to…” or “to travel to…”
When you go to or travel to any country in the world, you can use different prepositions in German. Which preposition you have to use is always dependent on the gender of the noun.
a) With neuter country or city names
When you want so say that you “go to” or “travel to” a particular country that requires the neuter gender in German, you have to use the German preposition “nach”.
Ich fahre/fliege/reise nach Amerika. – I go to/travel to America.
Ich fahre/fliege/reise nach Indien. – I go to/travel to India.
Ich fahre/fliege/reise nach Frankreich. – I go to/travel to France.
Ich fahre/fleige/reise nach Deutschland. – I go to/travel to Germany.
Note: Unlike in English, you can always indicate how you get to a particular place by using the appropriate verb. You use “fahren” (to drive) when you go there by train, car, bus, or ship, and “fliegen” (to fly) when you go there by plane.
b) With masculine country or city names
When you want to say in German that you travel to countries that require the masculine gender you use the preposition “in” plus the modified article “den”.
Ich fahre/fliege/reise in den Libanon. – I go to/travel to Lebanon.
Ich fahre/fliege/reise in den Yemen. – I go to/travel to Yemen.
c) With feminine country or city names
When you want to say in German that you go to a country that requires the feminine gender in German you use the preposition “in” plus the article “die”.
Ich fahre/fliege/reise in die Schweiz. – I go to/travel to Switzerland.
Ich fahre/fliege/reise in die Slowakei. – I go to/travel to Slovakia.
Ich fahre/fliege/reise in die Türkei. – I go to/travel to Turkey.