I know you can use it to shorten to zu dem, but is it also used for the indefinite article?

And is zur a different matter?

2 Answers 2


No, you cannot.

You could say

"zu 'nem" / "zu 'ner"

instead, but this is exclusively used in spoken language.

  • 2
    What about Kann ich Dich zum/zu einem Essen einladen? or Wegen Deines Blutdrucks solltest Du zum/zu einem Arzt gehen. That works for me.
    – PerlDuck
    Commented Jul 10, 2016 at 16:43
  • 1
    @PerlDog In both cases you would use zum as a definite article. In zum Essen einladen the Essen is the nominalized form of essen so it is actually dem Essen. With zum Arzt gehen you normally mean a specific doctor namely your family doctor. Commented Jul 10, 2016 at 17:43
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    @RainbowRevenge zum is indeed rather definite in the examples, yet it cannot be replaced by zu dem or zu diesem without subtly changing the meaning, whereas zu einem works, so the Gerhard’s answer “no” is not really wrong, but too broad, because sometimes it’s “yes”.
    – Crissov
    Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 6:20
  • @Crissov: The answer to the question "Can 'zum' be used to contract 'zu einem'" is always "no". I agree that one can say "jdn. zu einem Essen einladen", but this has a different meaning from "jdn. zum Essen einladen" , and hence "zum" is not a contraction of "zu einem". Instead, one would say "jdn. zu 'nem Essen einladen". Or did I misunderstand you here?
    – Gerhard
    Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 8:07
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    My point is that jmd. zum Essen einladen is semantically much closer to jmd. zu [ei]nem Essen einladen than jmd. zu d[ies]em Essen einladen. If it really was a contraction here, zum would in fact expand to zu einem. We could argue ad infinitum whether it actually is a contraction.
    – Crissov
    Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 14:03

The contractions zum, zur and also im, am, etc. cannot be expanded in any other way than with the definite article. The indefinite articles will not form contractions of that form.

In spoken language, many will shorten the indefinite articles separately, often to ’nem (for einem) or ’ner (for einer). Bavarian goes even further by saying am or a(ra), respectively. However, adding those onto zu will never create zum, only zu ’nem or zu am.

Similarly, in English we’re can never mean we were, only ever we are, even though both verb forms end on the same letters.

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