February 03, 2010


Prepositions have always been the hardest part of foreign languages for me. It was trouble in French, and it's trouble in German. The problem is, prepositions are "overloaded" in that they mean lots of different things, and the useages are not generally obvious. Thus, in English, one is in a building by the shore, on a ship at sea, et cetera. Then the prepositions get extended to non-location uses: on the radio, at play, with child, under great stress, on top of the world, in the lead. Foreign languages have the same sort of issues, except that I learned the English prepositions gradually over the course of many years, while I have just this week to decide if one is auf Arbeit, bei Arbeit, zu Arbeit, um Arbeit, an Arbeit, ├╝ber Arbeit, or in Arbeit. An excellent German-English dictionary's list of "at {prep}" has all those and more. That's because "at" is overloaded in English with meanings, and the same is true for similar words in German.

For the record, one is bei der Arbeit if you are in the process of doing your job, auf der Arbeit if you are located at the place you work, and in der Arbeit if you are located at the place you work, and that place has restricted access. Those answers may change if you speak a dialect of German, of which there are several.

The existance of the blog post is an admission of my procrastination.

Posted by: Boviate at 02:22 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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