I don't understand how the following sentence meaning works in English.

Der Bus fährt an der Universität vorbei

Here vorbei means over, but how does it fit in the sentence?
Could someone please explain.

4 Answers 4


The verb in this sentence is vorbeifahren. It is a separable verb, that splits up into its components »vorbei« and »fahren« in many tenses, and present tense is one of them.


Der Bus fährt an der Universität vorbei.

Futur I:

Der Bus wird an der Universität vorbeifahren.

»Vorbeifahren« is »to pass« or »to drive past« in English. (You can look it up in dict.leo.org for example, or in any other dictionary.)


Alternative versions would be "Der Bus fährt an der Universität entlang" or "Die Route des Busses führt an der Universität vorbei".

Why is it needed? "Der Bus fährt zur/Richtung Universität" gives the impression it ends there, while "vorbei(fahren)" adds the fact that it doesn't end there.

  • "Der Bus fährt an der Universität entlang" - this means something different, though. At least, it does not imply that the bus stops (which the "vorbei" version might - depending on context), and it indeed gives the distinct impression the university is something lengthy whose boundary the bus follows for a part of its trip, which is not necessarily the case with "vorbei". Oct 17, 2016 at 16:07

Der Bus fährt an der Universität vorbei.

The bus passes (by) the university. Depending on context this could mean that it will stop there or it describes the bus just going past it.


Over is only a valid translation of vorbei in temporal contexts.

Bin ich zu spät?
Die Vorstellung ist seit fünf Minuten vorbei.

Am I to late?
The show has been over for five minutes.

(Note: not the most idiomatic translation into English but chosen for a maximally literal one.)

However, your example sentence uses vorbei in a locational context. In that case, it must be translated as past.

Ein Ire geht an der Bar vorbei.

An Irishman walks past a pub.

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