German Locational Adverbs — (Wo? Wohin? Woher?)

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German Locational Adverbs — (Wo? Wohin? Woher?)

Happy second day of Christmas! During this time of year many like to go home to spend time with their family and friends. Where are you spending your Christmas. Where do you normally spend your Christmas? Sometimes when answering these questions we need to use adverbs of place. They are even good for asking for someone to pass you let’s say the gravy from “over there”.

Last week we started talking about adverbs. We covered temporal adverbs and I said that temporal adverbs are placed in sentences just like time phrases and references. Yes, the usual Time — Manner — Place rule. Today we’re going to look at locational adverbs or the adverbs of place. In my courses I often joke that German speakers are very punctual, but don’t always show up at the right place because of their language. This is why there are so many signs and maps in German speaking countries.

Locational adverbs typically get placed as the last element of the middle section of a sentence (Mittelfeld) if they are alone or before the specific location when they are used in combinations.


  • Der Wein liegt unten.
    • (The wine is downstairs.)
  • Der Wein liegt unten im Keller.
    • (The wine is downstairs in the cellar.)
  • Ich habe den Wein unten im Keller getan.
    • (I put the wine downstairs in the basement.)

Let’s take a look at what they are. Again in this post there are three things to watch out for.

1. Locational adverbs answer the question where? Some common examples are:

  •  aussen ((on the) outside)
    • Der Becher ist aussen und innen vergoldet.
    • (The cup is gold-plated on the outside and inside.)
  • da (there; We encountered this one last weekmeaning then. If you think about it, it is a very simple sound and therefore a very versatile word.)
    • Das Geschenk liegt da unter dem Baum.
    • (The gift is there under the tree.)
  • (da) drüben (over there)
    • Wo liegt das Fotoalbum? — Es liegt da, dort drüben auf dem Tisch.
    • (Where’s the photo album? — It’s over there on the table.)
  • dort (there)
    • Ich bin bis Sonntag dort.
    • (I’m there until Sunday.)
  • hier (here)
    • Er ist noch gestern hier gewesen.
    • (He was still here yesterday.)
  • hinten (behind)
    • Der Eingang ist hinten.
    • (The entrance is around the back.)
  • innen ((on the) inside)
    • Das Haus wurde innen neu hergerichtet.
    • (The house was newly furbished up inside.)
  • irgrendwo (somewhere, anywhere)
    • Sie wollen irgendwo in der Schweiz Urlaub machen.
    • (The want to go on vacation somewhere in Switzerland.)
  • links ((on the) left) (The German short form for links is l.)
    • Auf der Autobahn darf man nur links überholen.
    • (On the highway one is only allowed to pass other cars using the left lane.)
  • nirgends (nowhere)**
    • Er war nirgends zu finden.
    • (He was nowhere to be found.)
    • Ich suche seit zwei Stunden meine Brille, aber ich kann sie nirgends finden.
    • (I’ve been looking for my glasses for two hours, but I can’t find them anywhere.)
  • nirgendwo (nowhere)**
    • Nirgendwo kann man seine Ruhe haben!
    • (One can’t have his peace anywhere!)
  • oben (above)
    • Wie bereits oben erwähnt wurde, …
    • (As was already mentioned above)
  • Hier fahren Autos rechts.

    rechts ((on the) right) (The German short form for rechts is r.)

    • In Mitteleuropa fahren Autos rechts.
    • (In Central Europe cars drive on the right side of the road.)
  • unten (below)
    • Sie steht unten auf der Treppe.
    • (She’s standing on the bottom of the stairs.)
  • überall (everywhere)**
    • Heute ist es überall warm.
    • (It’s warm everywhere today.)
  • vorn (in front)
    • Der Eingang ist vorn.
    • (The entrance is at the front.)

2. We can use the prefixes hin– (to) and her– (from) as suffixes with some adverbs of place to indicate direction to or from: ex. überallher (from everywhere), irgendwohin (to somewhere).

3. Some adverbs of place are often accompanied by the prepositions nach (to) and von (from) to indicate origin of place or destination. The most common ones are:

  •  nach links/rechts (to the left/right)
  • von links/rechts (from the left/right)
  • nach oben (upward, to go upstairs)
  • nach unten (downward, to go downstairs)
  • nach/von vorn(e) (to/from the front)
  • von oben (from above)
  • von unten (from below/beneath)

** The adverbs nirgends/nirgendswo are often replaced in English with anywhere when used in the negative. Also the distinction between somewhere and anywhere that exists in English doesn’t really exist in German. German uses irgendwo(hin) to refer to generally unspecified or unknown locations and directions (that is both somewhere and anywhere). To emphasize a lack of specificity German uses überall, as überall can also mean everywhere.


  • Gehst du irgendwohin?
    • (Are you going anywhere/somewhere?)
  • Ich weiss, es ist hier irgendwo.
    • (I know it’s here somewhere.)
  • Es könnte ja überall sein!
    • (It could be anywhere!)
  • Ich habe es ja überall gesucht!
    • (I looked for it everywhere!)

If you look at these adverbs you’ll notice that many of them have counterparts (z.B. rechts/links). This is a great way to learn them better.

Use the link below to study these adverbs!

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