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How do you say "from X to Y" in German? I am not sure if I am supposed to write an article with "zu":

Ich höre mir alle Arten deutscher Musik an, vom Rock bis zu(r?) Hip-Hop.

I listen to all types of music from rock to hip-hop.

What if I leave out the article, will it change the meaning of the sentence?
Here's another sentence:

Ich kann alles erledigen: Vom Boden fegen bis zu(m?) Geschirr waschen.

I can do everything from sweeping the floor to washing the dishes.

Is there any way to know when to put an article and when not to?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

This seems not to be a problem of ”from X to Y“, but a problem of how to use articles. The answer to the X-to-Y-problem is: Use an articles for X and for Y if you would use an article for it in an other case.

Music styles are used without an article:

Ich höre gerne Rock. Oder: Ich höre gerne Rockmusik.
Ich bin ein Freund von Jazz(musik).
Ich könnte stundenlang zu Hip-Hop tanzen.

So you don't use articles in this sentences:

Ich mag alles von Barock bis Romantik.
In meiner CD-Sammlung findest du alles von Pop bis Punk.

Your other examples are »hauptwörtlich gebrauchte Zeitwörter«. Sorry, I don't the the exact term for this in english. Those are verbs that are used as nouns. And this type of words always must have an article. This article can be combine with a preposition that comes immediately before the article (in dem = im; zu dem = zum; an dem = am, ...)

Here are some examples:

gehen (to walk)
As a verb: Meine Großmutter geht ins Haus.
As a noun: Das Gehen bereitet meiner Großmutter Schmerzen.

singen (to sing) As a verb: Ich singe gerne.
As a noun: Mir bereitet das Singen große Freude.

So when u use this type of words, you also have to use articles:

Lisa beherrscht viele Sportarten, vom Laufen bis zum Reiten.
Ich habe alles erledigt, vom Fegen bis zum Waschen.

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1  
You can use Nominalizations here, but you need not to. You can also simply refer to the infinitives: Ich habe alles erledigt, von fegen bis waschen. In some cases e.g. sports, the nominalizations seem to be preferable as the sports names are nominalizations themselves. –  Toscho Jan 9 at 17:37

Like you say "von A bis Z", you also say "von Rock bis Hip-Hop". Note that it's von, not vom, because you usually say "Rock" or "Klassik", not "der Rock", though it's technically not wrong.

Your second example is similar:

Ich erledige nichts davon gern: Von Bodenfegen bis Geschirrspülen.

(Das stimmt nicht ganz, da ich einen Geschirrspüler habe, aber das ist nicht der springende Punkt.)

You can also use articles:

Vom Bodenfegen bis zum Geschirrspülen bin ich Hausarbeit eher abgeneigt.

If you use articles, "von bis" is used with "zu". I'm not sure whether there's a reason to prefer one variant over the other. They're not always interchangeable. It seems that using it without articles is more talking about categories, while using articles is about specific things, like items in a list.

"Von A bis Z" means things that start with any letter (and of course this typically means everything), but can also be used like "Von A bis K". On the other hand when saying "Vom A bis zum Z sind alle Buchstaben leicht zu schreiben" actually means the letters.

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My first native-speaker thought is to omit the article with both prepositions:

Ich höre mir alle Arten deutscher Musik an, von Rock bis Hiphop.

Also, without the article you don't need "zu".

Er hat die Liste von A bis Z durchgearbeitet.

But maybe the omission of the article is related to the fact that the music styles and the letters A-Z are abstract concepts.

Compare:

In diesem Zoo gibt es Tiere vom Affen bis zum Zebra.

Er hat vom ersten Semester bis zum Diplom in derselben Wohnung gewohnt.

Ich kann alles erledigen: Vom Bodenfegen bis zum Geschirrspülen.

Notice that with "Geschirr", you use "spülen" rather than "waschen". With that, you don't even have to specify that it's about dishes:

Ich kann alles erledigen: Vom Bodenfegen bis zum Spülen.

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"Boden Fegen" please... you wouldn't write "vom Mannanrufen" would you ;) –  Emanuel Jan 9 at 8:43
1  
But I also enjoy Autofahren, Spaghettiessen, Filmgucken, Musikhören and Kompositaerfinden. :P OK, OK I see your point, and so does Duden (duden.de/sprachwissen/rechtschreibregeln/…). –  elena Jan 9 at 14:36
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In case of Nominalization, the words are concatenated. That's at least, what elena's link says. So it should be Vom Bodenfegen bis zum Geschirrspülen. –  Toscho Jan 9 at 17:34
1  
Thanks, @Toscho, I didn't even read that far. Are we done with Elenaverwirren now? –  elena Jan 10 at 10:26

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