How do the prepositions unter, hinter, and ober (not sure if ober should be included) and the like become unten, hinten, oben?

For example:

Ich stehe hinten rechts.

Hinter dir ist ein Hund.

Zieh' nach oben/unten zum Aktualisieren.

I am interested in the usage cases for these words and the linguistic reason(s) for the changes in ending.

  • 2
    Are you interested in when to use which word or what happened here linguistically?
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Feb 3, 2014 at 15:37
  • Both. I will add that to the question. Thanks for the reminder. :)
    – Dustin
    Commented Feb 3, 2014 at 15:38
  • For the usage part: yourdailygerman.wordpress.com/2012/02/21/…
    – Emanuel
    Commented Feb 3, 2014 at 19:00

2 Answers 2


The difference between e.g. unter and unten is depending on what you are referring to and positions to each other. So the difference between unterand unten is the same as in under your foot and down stairs. So as a rule of the thumb I'd say, when ever you putting something in relation to something else, it should be really the preposition unter, über, vor, hinter etc.

If something is at a position not really related to something, than it's oben, unten, vorn or hinten. This also applies to positions inside e.g. a room: So you can say "Es befindet sich unten (im Keller)" means maybe something like "It's downstairs (inside the cellar)" whereas "Es ist hinter dem Keller" means "It's behind the cellar".

I have no clue how the grammatical thing is called ;)


"unter" is a preposition (connected with a noun), "unten" is an adverb (indicating position).

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