Asking for Directions in German: Street names and places/squares Posted by Sandra Rösner on Jun 26, 2012 in Language
In my post from yesterday, I told you how to ask for directions to particular buildings (e.g. a church or museum) or cultural gathering places (e.g. cinema and theatre). Today, I would like to teach you how to ask for addresses in German, that is, street names and places.
In German culture the main part of an address is always the street name and house number, for example, Blumenstraße 5 (lit. Flower Street 5). In German, the most common attachments for street names are:
(die) Straße – street
(die) Allee – avenue
(der) Weg – lane
(der) Platz – square; place
The actual name givers for street are usually, for example, prominent figures (e.g. politicians and scientists) and German town names.
There are two options in German to ask for the directions to an address:
Wie komme ich zu(r/m) …? – How do I get to …?
Wie komme ich in die/den …? – lit. How do I get into the …?
Let’s start with the feminine nouns “die Straße” (street) and “die Allee” (avenue). No matter what the actual street name is, when the name of the street end with Straße or Allee you always have to use the following prepositions:
Wie komme ich zur Blumestraße (5)? – How do I get to Blumenstraße (5)?
Wie komme ich in die Blumestraße (5)? – lit. How do I get into the Blumestraße (5)?
Same with Allee (avenue):
Wie komme ich zur Parkallee (21)? – How do I get to Parkallee (21)?
Wie komme ich in die Parkallee (21)? – lit. How do I get into the Parkallee (21)?
Since “Straße” and “Allee” are feminine nouns in German, you have to use the prepositions “zur”, which is a blend of “zu”+”der”. Alternatively, you can also use the preposition “in” with the definite feminine article “die”. As you can see, it does not matter whether you name the house number of your address, the structure of the sentence remains the same.
“Weg” (here: lane) and “Platz” (here: square) are masculine nouns in German, thus, you have to use a different preposition. Instead of “zur” you have to use “zum”. Examples:
Wie komme ich zum Blumenweg? – How do I get to Flower Lane?
Wie komme ich zum Platz der Deutschen Einheit? – How do I get to the German Union Square?
Wie komme ich zum Marlene-Dietrich-Platz? – How do I get to Marlene-Dietrich-Square?
Note: Street names are proper names, thus, they are actually not translated!
Alternatively, you can also ask your question with the preposition “in” (like above), but only with the word “Allee” (avenue) because in German you can get ‘into’ a street but not ‘into’ a square. You get only get ‘on’ a square. Examples:
Wie komme ich in den Einsteinweg? – lit. How do I get into Einstein Lane?
Wie komme ich in den Kirschenweg? – How do I get into Cherry Lane?
Since the two examples above are possible and correct, the following are not:
Wie komme ich in den Platz der Deutschen Einheit? – How do I get into the German Union Suqare? (NOTE: WRONG!)
Wie komme ich in den Marlene-Dietrich-Platz? – How do I get into the Marlene-Dietrich-Square? (NOTE: WRONG!)
As you can see, when you are asking for the direction to a square you can only use the option with “zum”.
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