I hear it everyday in the bus I travel

Dieser Bus fahrt ab Roßmarkt zum Hainig.
Dieser Bus fahrt ab Roßmarkt nach Grafenrheinfeld.

Why are two different prepositions used in the sentence which means the same?

On what basis should I choose between nach and zu?

  • 6
    Related: german.stackexchange.com/questions/8479/…
    – Carsten S
    Feb 11, 2016 at 7:07
  • @CarstenS: that was something really perfect for what i was looking for.. thanks for the link.
    – Vini
    Feb 11, 2016 at 7:12
  • To the close voter: no duplicate b/c of different language: meta.german.stackexchange.com/questions/14/…
    – Stephie
    Feb 11, 2016 at 9:00
  • 1
    Also related: german.stackexchange.com/q/23860/15318
    – Jan
    Feb 12, 2016 at 0:38
  • 1
    I’ll admit that it can get really confusing: The Munich underground line U6 stops at a station labelled Harras and one labelled Großhadern. Naively by looking at the underground map, one would assume both to be boroughs of Munich but only Großhadern is one; Harras is actually a square — and to make matters worse it comes with an article (and usually also with an so am Harras). So the underground goes nach Großhadern but zum Harras.
    – Jan
    Feb 12, 2016 at 0:41

1 Answer 1


Very rough rule, I'm sure there are some exception:

Nach is used for villages, towns, cities and other forms of named human settlements.

Wir fahren nach Wien.

Zum/Zur/Zu den + is used for all other named places.

Wir fahren zur Donau. (a river)
Wir fahren zum Ötscher. (a mountain)
Wir fahren zum Stephansplatz. (a square in a city)
Wir fahren zum Heumarkt. (a place that takes its name from a market that used to be there)

  • So i should suppose Hainig is also some sort of other named place. Is it the same with the usage of ab Roßmarkt as well?
    – Vini
    Feb 11, 2016 at 6:57
  • 1
    @Vini Haining is an industrial estate, so yes, "other named place" fits.
    – Stephie
    Feb 11, 2016 at 7:07
  • @stephie: I did not know what was Hainig. For me they are all bus stations :). But thanks for the link.
    – Vini
    Feb 11, 2016 at 8:52

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