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  1. What are all the hin and her contractions people use? z.B. raus, rauf, usw. Is it as simple as every her-preposition, or is it more of a subset? What about hin? For instance, I've seen nüber but can't find much documentation on it online. I realize this may be regional.

  2. In which situations / settings are they used? Only spoken / informal?

  3. Even in such settings, are there places that you would still use the full word (z.B. heraus) rather than the contraction form? Or is it pretty much if you're going to use the contractions you use them every time?

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Related: german.stackexchange.com/questions/7794/… –  c.p. Nov 5 '13 at 16:15
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2 Answers

ad 1)

Only "her" can be contracted to "r" if it is a prefix:

herauf - rauf
herunter - runter
heraus - raus
herein - rein
herüber - rüber

This is not allowed:

Komm doch her zu mir - wrong: Komm doch r zu mir.

Contactions following the same pattern with "hin" are used less frequently. I also think the words "nauf", "nunter", "naus" and "nüber" are only used in southern parts of Germany. They are very rarely used in Austria and I guess that this is true for northern parts of Germany too. I never heard "nein" as contraction of "hinein".

ad 2)
This contractions are not part of Standard German. They are used in informal speech and they are part of many german dialects.

ad 3)
You can use the standard forms in informal settings to emphasize the word.

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How to use the “hin” and “her” prefixes? provides pretty good information, but I'll try to provide you with a better “feel” for it nevertheless.

The German terms you mention are mostly used in similar way as you would use them in English...

“hin und her” = “back and forth”

“Es geht hin und her in der Diskussion.” = “The discussion goes back and forth.”

The word “raus” could be used with “rein” the same way you would use the English:

“Die rennen rein und raus…” = “They're running in and out…”

Same for

“Er läuft rauf und runter…” = “He's walking up and down…”

And yes, there are situations where you wouldn't use contradictions (just like you wouldn't use them in English). An example:

“Finde es raus!” = “Find out!”

Now, here are some examples where “heraus” is frequently used, but please note that these lines are only used colloquially:

  • heraus mit euch!
  • heraus aus dem Bett
  • heraus mit dem Geld!
  • er ist aus dem Knast heraus
  • aus dem Trubel der Stadt heraus sein
  • aus diesem Alter bin ich langsam heraus
  • aus einer schwierigen Situation heraus sein
  • endlich ist sie mit ihrem Anliegen heraus
  • die ganze Geschichte, Wahrheit ist heraus

Last but not least:

You're absolutely correct in thinking that most of the time, you'll end up using the contraction form instead of the full words… as the above examples show. Sure, you could use “Finde es herraus!” instead of “Finde es raus!”; but in the end, the later is more natural and used more often. Using the prepositions is more of a remnant of the older German language use.

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