How Do You Say On in German?

When learning a new language, one of the basic concepts to grasp is how to express different prepositions. In German, like any other language, prepositions play a crucial role in constructing meaningful and grammatically correct sentences. Often, language learners find themselves struggling with the correct translation of the English preposition “on” into German. This article aims to shed light on how to accurately express “on” in German, exploring the various translations and contexts in which they are used. By understanding the nuances and appropriate usage of German prepositions, learners can enhance their language skills and navigate daily life conversations more confidently.

Definition of “On” in English

In order to understand how to say “on” in German, it is crucial to have a clear understanding of the various meanings of “on” in English and its usage in different contexts.

Meanings and Usage of “On”

The word “on” is a versatile preposition in English that can have multiple meanings depending on the context. It generally refers to a position or location that is above or in contact with a surface or object.

One of the primary meanings of “on” is to indicate physical contact or attachment to a surface or object. For example, “the book is on the table” or “the picture is hanging on the wall.” In these cases, “on” expresses the idea of something being in direct contact with a surface.

Additionally, “on” can indicate the location of something or someone relative to a larger area or object. For instance, “the hotel is on the main street” or “the restaurant is on the corner.” Here, “on” signifies the position or proximity of something in relation to a specific place or landmark.

Furthermore, “on” can also refer to a progression of time, indicating that something is happening during a particular period. For example, “the show airs on Mondays” or “the event will take place on Saturday.” In these cases, “on” is used to denote the specific day or time when an activity occurs.

Examples of Usage in Different Contexts

The usage of “on” can vary depending on the context, and it is important to understand how it is employed in different situations. In addition to the mentioned examples, “on” can also be used to indicate support or endorsement, as in “I’m on your side” or “they are on board with the new plan.” It can also express an engagement in a particular activity or pursuit, such as “he is on the soccer team” or “they are on a mission to save the environment.”

Furthermore, “on” can be used in idiomatic expressions and phrasal verbs, like “putting on a brave face” or “carry on with the task.” These expressions often have metaphorical or figurative meanings that may not necessarily directly relate to physical contact or location.

Having a firm grasp on the various meanings and usage of “on” in English will provide a solid foundation for understanding its translation in German and how it is applied in different contexts.

IGerman Translation for “On”

Introduction to the German word for “on” (auf)

In order to effectively communicate in German, it is crucial to have a good understanding of prepositions, as they play a significant role in sentence structure and meaning. One of the most commonly used prepositions in German is “auf,” which translates to “on” in English.

Key characteristics and usage of “auf” in German

The preposition “auf” has several key characteristics and usages that are important to grasp. Firstly, it is used to indicate a physical location, such as when something is resting or sitting on top of another object. For example, “Das Buch liegt auf dem Tisch” translates to “The book is lying on the table.”

Furthermore, “auf” can also be used to denote a specific point in time. For instance, “Wir treffen uns auf 7 Uhr” means “We are meeting at 7 o’clock.” In this context, “auf” is used to express the exact time when the meeting is scheduled to occur.

Moreover, “auf” is utilized to indicate movement towards a particular direction. For example, “Er geht auf mich zu” translates to “He is coming towards me.” In this instance, “auf” shows the direction of the movement, emphasizing the change in distance from one location to another.

Examples illustrating the usage of “auf” in different contexts

To gain a better understanding of how “auf” is used in different contexts, consider the following examples:

1. “Das Bild hängt auf der Wand” – “The picture is hanging on the wall.” Here, “auf” indicates the physical location of the picture.

2. “Die Party beginnt auf neun Uhr” – “The party starts at nine o’clock.” In this case, “auf” indicates the specific point in time when the party will begin.

3. “Ich steige auf den Berg” – “I am climbing up the mountain.” Here, “auf” conveys the direction of the movement, showcasing the ascent towards the top of the mountain.

Overall, the preposition “auf” is a versatile word that is used in various contexts in the German language. By familiarizing oneself with its key characteristics and understanding its usage in different scenarios, learners can effectively incorporate “auf” into their German language skills. Thus, enabling them to accurately convey the meaning of “on” in different contexts.

Forming Prepositional Phrases with “auf”

Explanation of how prepositional phrases are constructed in German

In the German language, prepositional phrases are formed by combining a preposition with a noun or pronoun. These phrases provide additional information about location, time, direction, or other relationships between objects or actions. As a preposition, “auf” is used to indicate “on” or “onto” and is an essential component in many prepositional phrases.

Step-by-step guide on forming prepositional phrases with “auf”

To form a prepositional phrase with “auf,” follow these steps:

1. Identify the noun or pronoun that will follow “auf” in the phrase.
2. Determine the correct form of the noun or pronoun based on its grammatical case (nominative, accusative, dative, or genitive).
3. Add the appropriate definite or indefinite article, if necessary, according to the gender and case of the noun. For example:
– “auf dem Tisch” (on the table)
– “auf einen Stuhl” (onto a chair)

4. Combine the definite or indefinite article with the preposition “auf” and the noun or pronoun to form the prepositional phrase.

Examples of prepositional phrases with “auf”

– “Das Buch liegt auf dem Regal.” (The book is on the shelf.)
– “Sie stellt die Tasse auf den Tisch.” (She puts the cup on the table.)
– “Die Katze springt auf den Baum.” (The cat jumps onto the tree.)
– “Er legt seine Jacke auf den Stuhl.” (He puts his jacket on the chair.)
– “Die Kinder spielen auf dem Spielplatz.” (The children play on the playground.)

It is important to note that the case of the noun or pronoun following “auf” will determine the form of the article used. Paying attention to the gender and case of nouns is crucial for correctly constructing prepositional phrases with “auf.”

By understanding how to form prepositional phrases with “auf,” German learners can accurately express location, direction, and other relationships using the preposition “on” in their conversations. Practice is key to mastering the construction of prepositional phrases, and with time, learners will become more confident in using “auf” appropriately.

Using “Auf” with Verbs

Understanding how “auf” can be used in combination with certain German verbs

In addition to its prepositional use, the German word for “on,” auf, can also be combined with certain verbs to convey specific meanings. Understanding how to use “auf” with verbs is essential for mastering the German language and attaining fluency.

Examples of common verbs that require “auf” in their usage

When using “auf” with verbs, it is important to note that different verbs have different requirements. Some common verbs that require “auf” in their usage include:

1. Warten auf (to wait for): “Ich warte auf den Bus” (I am waiting for the bus)
2. Bestehen auf (to insist on): “Sie besteht auf ihrer Entscheidung” (She insists on her decision)
3. Sich freuen auf (to look forward to): “Wir freuen uns auf das Konzert” (We are looking forward to the concert)
4. Sich konzentrieren auf (to concentrate on): “Er konzentriert sich auf seine Arbeit” (He is concentrating on his work)
5. Hängen an (to depend on): “Die Lösung hängt von deiner Mitarbeit ab” (The solution depends on your cooperation)

These examples illustrate the importance of using the correct preposition “auf” when combining it with specific verbs in German.

Using “auf” with verbs can sometimes lead to changes in meaning or require specific grammatical constructions, such as the use of the accusative case. It is important to familiarize oneself with these nuances to use “auf” correctly with verbs.

It is also worth noting that some verbs can have different prepositions depending on the intended meaning. For example, “warten auf” (to wait for) uses “auf,” while “warten in” (to wait in) uses “in.” Paying attention to these distinctions will enhance your understanding and usage of verbs with “auf.”

By grasping the usage of “auf” with verbs, learners can expand their vocabulary and express themselves more accurately in German. Consistent practice with different verbs and their associated prepositions will strengthen language skills and facilitate communication.

In conclusion, learning how to use “auf” with verbs is a vital aspect of mastering the German language. By understanding the specific verbs that require “auf” and practicing their usage in different contexts, learners can enhance their proficiency and effectively express themselves in various conversations and written texts.

Different Contexts for Using “Auf”

Usage in Location

In German, the preposition “auf” is commonly used to indicate location. It is typically translated as “on” in English, but its usage in this context can vary depending on the noun it is paired with. For example, when talking about being on a surface or an object, “auf” is used in combination with the dative case. For instance, “Der Teller liegt auf dem Tisch” means “The plate is on the table.” Similarly, “Das Buch liegt auf dem Regal” translates to “The book is on the shelf.” However, when indicating being on a public transportation vehicle or a means of transportation, “auf” is used with the accusative case. For instance, “Ich bin auf dem Zug” means “I am on the train.”

Usage in Time

Aside from indicating location, “auf” can also be used to express time in German. In this context, “auf” can be translated as “on” or “at” in English. It is often used to indicate a specific day or date. For example, “Wir treffen uns auf Montag” translates to “We are meeting on Monday.” Similarly, “Die Party findet auf dem 5. Mai statt” means “The party takes place on the 5th of May.”

Usage in Direction

Additionally, “auf” can be used to indicate direction in German. It is commonly translated as “onto” or “onto the” in English. When indicating movement onto a surface or an object, “auf” is used with the accusative case. For example, “Sie legte das Buch auf den Tisch” means “She put the book onto the table.” Similarly, “Der Ball rollte auf die Straße” translates to “The ball rolled onto the street.” However, when indicating movement onto public transportation or a means of transportation, “auf” is used with the dative case. For instance, “Ich stieg auf den Bus” means “I got on the bus.”

In conclusion, the preposition “auf” in German is a versatile word that can be used in various contexts. It is commonly used to indicate location, time, and direction. Whether it is expressing being on a surface, specifying a day or date, or indicating movement onto an object or public transportation, “auf” plays a crucial role in the German language. By understanding the different contexts and nuances of using “auf,” German learners can effectively convey their intended meanings in a variety of situations. It is important to practice and apply the knowledge gained from this article in order to master the usage of “auf” and enhance overall proficiency in the German language.

Common Idioms and Expressions with “Auf”


In addition to its everyday usage as a preposition, the German word “auf” is also commonly found in various idiomatic expressions. These idioms add depth and color to the language, allowing native speakers to convey certain emotions or concepts more effectively. In this section, we will explore some popular idioms and expressions that incorporate the word “auf”, providing insights into their meaning and usage.

Idiomatic Expressions with “Auf”

1. “Auf Wolke sieben sein” – Translated as “to be on cloud nine,” this expression is used to describe someone who is incredibly happy or elated. It conveys a sense of euphoria and joy that is difficult to put into words.

2. “Auf Achse sein” – Literally meaning “to be on the axle,” this idiom is used to describe someone who is constantly on the go or always traveling. It implies a sense of adventurousness and a life full of movement and activity.

3. “Auf Nummer sicher gehen” – This expression translates to “to play it safe” or “to take no risks.” It is used when someone wants to ensure that they are making the most cautious and sensible decision in a particular situation.

4. “Auf den letzten Drücker” – This idiom means “at the last minute” or “just in time.” It is used to describe a situation where someone completes a task or arrives somewhere very close to the deadline or scheduled time.

5. “Auf Teufel komm raus” – Translating as “come what may” or “at all costs,” this expression signifies a determined and unwavering mindset. It suggests that someone is willing to do anything necessary to achieve a certain goal or overcome an obstacle.

Usage and Meaning

These idioms with “auf” provide unique insights into German culture and the specific ways in which speakers convey emotion or describe situations. Understanding and using these idiomatic expressions enhances language fluency and allows for more natural and nuanced communication.

By incorporating idioms into your German vocabulary, you can add depth and authenticity to your language skills. However, it is important to remember that idiomatic expressions often have figurative meanings that may not align with their literal translations. Therefore, it is crucial to familiarize yourself with the correct usage and context of each idiom to avoid any misunderstandings.

In conclusion, learning common idioms and expressions with “auf” opens up a new world of linguistic possibilities. It allows you to express yourself more creatively and understand native speakers on a deeper level. Incorporate these idioms into your everyday conversations and soon you’ll find yourself using the language with greater fluency and confidence.

Regional Variations and Dialects

Brief Overview

In the German language, regional variations and dialects play a significant role in altering the usage and pronunciation of words. The preposition “auf,” meaning “on,” is no exception. Understanding these regional variations and dialects is crucial for German learners to communicate effectively and comprehend the language in different contexts.

Examples of Regional Differences

Across various German-speaking regions, the usage of “auf” can differ significantly. For example, in Northern Germany, particularly in Low German dialects, locals often use “up” instead of “auf.” They would say “up de Dör” instead of “auf das Dorf” to convey the meaning “on the village.”

In some Southern German regions, such as Bavaria, the preposition “auf” is sometimes substituted with “uff” or “uffi.” Therefore, the phrase “auf dem Berg” (on the mountain) would be expressed as “uff’m Berg” or “uff’n Berg.”

Moreover, even within specific regions, there can be further variations. Let’s take a look at the city of Vienna, where locals use the dialect “Viennese German.” In this dialect, the preposition “auf” is often replaced by “am” in certain circumstances. For example, instead of saying “auf dem Tisch” (on the table), Viennese German speakers would say “am Tisch.”

Impact on Language Learning

Learning about regional variations and dialects is crucial for German learners as it enhances cultural understanding and language proficiency. While Standard German, known as Hochdeutsch, is widely taught and understood across Germany, encountering regional variations and dialects in conversations is common.

By familiarizing themselves with these differences, German learners can adapt their language skills to better understand and communicate with native speakers from different regions. Furthermore, it enables learners to appreciate the rich linguistic diversity within the German-speaking world.


Understanding the regional variations and dialects that can alter the usage of “auf” in the German language is essential for language learners. By recognizing these differences, learners can navigate conversations more effectively and appreciate the linguistic diversity of the German-speaking world. Rather than viewing these variations as obstacles, learners should embrace them as opportunities to enhance their cultural understanding and language proficiency. With this knowledge, German learners can confidently use “auf” in accordance with the regional dialect they encounter, enabling them to communicate more authentically and connect with German speakers on a deeper level.

Common Mistakes and Pitfalls

Addressing common mistakes made by German learners when using “auf”

When learning a new language, it is common to make mistakes, and German is no exception. The usage of the preposition “auf” can be tricky, leading to several common mistakes that German learners often make. This section aims to address these mistakes and provide tips to avoid them.

One of the most common mistakes is using “auf” when referring to being “on top of” something physically. In English, we might say “I am on the table,” but in German, this should be “Ich bin auf dem Tisch” because “auf” is used for surfaces and objects, while “dem” is the appropriate dative article for the masculine noun “Tisch.” Similarly, when talking about being “on” a street or road, one should use “in” instead of “auf.” For example, “Ich bin in der Straße,” not “Ich bin auf der Straße.”

Another mistake occurs when expressing the concept of being “on” time. In English, we say “on time,” but in German, the correct phrase is “pünktlich sein.” Therefore, instead of using “auf,” German learners should use the word “pünktlich.”

Tips and tricks to avoid these errors

To avoid these common mistakes, it is essential to practice and familiarize yourself with the correct usage of “auf” in different contexts. Here are some tips and tricks to help you avoid these errors:

1. Study and memorize prepositional phrases with “auf”: Take the time to understand how “auf” functions in different situations and contexts. Practice using it in sentences to reinforce your understanding.

2. Pay attention to prepositions used with specific nouns: Certain nouns in German require different prepositions. Make note of these exceptions and study them separately to avoid confusion.

3. Practice with native speakers or language exchange partners: Engaging in conversations with native German speakers will help you get real-time feedback and corrections on your usage of “auf.” They can provide insight into specific idiomatic expressions or regional variations.

4. Utilize online resources and reference materials: Use reputable online resources, grammar books, or language apps to deepen your understanding of prepositions in German. Look for specific exercises or quizzes that focus on the usage of “auf.”

5. Take note of regional variations: As mentioned in the previous section, regional variations and dialects can influence the usage of “auf.” Be aware of these differences if you plan to travel or communicate with individuals from specific regions.

By being mindful of these common mistakes and implementing these tips and tricks, you can improve your proficiency in using “auf” correctly. Like any language skill, practice and exposure are crucial for gaining confidence and fluency. So don’t hesitate to apply your knowledge and continue learning from your experiences.


Recap of the importance of learning how to say “on” in German

Learning how to say “on” in German is a crucial skill for anyone studying the language. Prepositions, such as “on,” play a fundamental role in sentence structure and comprehension. Understanding how to use “auf” correctly will greatly enhance your ability to communicate effectively in German.

Encouragement to practice and apply the knowledge gained from the article

Now that you have learned about the different meanings of “on” in English and its German translation “auf,” it is time to put this knowledge into practice. Practice forming prepositional phrases with “auf” and experiment with using it in combination with verbs. By doing so, you will become more comfortable and confident in using “auf” in various contexts.

Remember to pay attention to the nuances and differences in usage, as demonstrated in different contexts such as location, time, and direction. By understanding these nuances, you will be able to communicate more accurately and effectively in German.

Continued learning

Learning a new language is an ongoing process, and mastering the use of prepositions like “auf” takes time and practice. As you continue your language learning journey, be aware of common mistakes and pitfalls associated with “auf.” By understanding these errors, you can avoid them and improve your command of the language.

Additionally, be open to regional variations and dialects that may alter the usage of “auf.” This will further enrich your understanding of German and make your language skills more adaptable in different German-speaking regions.


In conclusion, learning how to say “on” in German is essential for developing fluency in the language. By understanding the German word for “on” and its usage, you will be able to construct prepositional phrases accurately, use it with verbs when necessary, and comprehend common idiomatic expressions. Practice, expand your knowledge, and keep immersing yourself in the German language to become a confident and proficient German speaker.

Leave a Comment