Does the following sentence violate any German syntax and/or grammar rules? Or more specifically is the preposition nach allowed in this case?

Ich habe […] nach Deutschland erhalten.
Ich habe einen Gegenstand nach Deutschland erhalten.

Implying that something was brought along/moved in some way.

  • Example with added context.

    Ich habe einen Gegenstand nach Deutschland erhalten, von dem ich nicht weiß ob die Einfuhr legal ist.

  • Example with even more context

    Another example that – as I would suggest – follows the same basic principles but is far more common for a native to say.

    Ich habe eine Lieferung nach Deutschland erhalten.

    And I have to clarify: I wouldn't write the sentence in my above examples. But I'd argue you could.

  • Example with obvious freight/postal context

    Ich habe eine Lieferung nach Deutschland (in mein Büro) erhalten, dort werde ich sie morgen abholen.

    Ich habe einen Gegenstand nach Deutschland (zur Spedition) erhalten, von dem ich nicht weiß ob die Einfuhr nach Österreich legal ist.

    I didn’t add this freight/postal context examples to my question at first since I’m interested in general grammatical rules that allow or prohibit the use of nach with a destination and erhalten or if you want another verb, like bekommen.

    In my opinion the first examples are grammatically correct German sentences. Without defining context of course they are unusual.

  • 1
    "Lieferung nach Deutschland erhalten" sounds awkward as well; moreover, google gives no meaningful result (unless it means kostenlose Lieferung nach Deutschland erhalten, but there you don't get the parcel, you just get the right to send/got a parcel sent for free). Why are you so sure you're right? (now I had to retire my upvote, since I do no longer agree)
    – c.p.
    Feb 21, 2017 at 16:01
  • 1
    @c.p. please see tofros answer and even better example below. “Ich habe einen Brief nach Deutschland von meiner Mutter erhalten”. But I didn't want to make the freight/postal context too obvious, since I'm primarily interested in the grammar rules that apply, not how common or beautiful the sentence is. Of course you can say “Ich habe eine Lieferung nach Deutschland erhalten, ich muss sie morgen abholen.” e.g. if you live across the border and have to drive to your office in Germany to pick it up.
    – woerndl
    Feb 21, 2017 at 16:27

2 Answers 2


Syntactically, your sentence is entirely correct - It has a subject, an object, a predicate of movement and a directional preposition.

Semantically, however, the sentence is most probably utterly nonsense:

Nach as a directional preposition implies "from here to somewhere else" - like in Ich fahre im Urlaub nach Frankreich

erhalten as a verb of movement means "from somewhere else to here" - like in Ich habe einen Brief aus Italien erhalten

So, verb and preposition conflict (except, maybe, in a constructed case, see below) in terms of "where am I" and "what's moving to where") and so the sentence doesn't make much sense.

In a very constructed case

Ich habe einen Brief nach Deutschland von meiner Mutter erhalten

Where your mother lives in Mexico, you live in the U.S, and she sent you a letter she wants you to forward to Germany, the sentence could probably make sense (I would, however, never try to express such a complicated matter with such a simple sentence).

In a freight forwarder's office (assumed location Germany), sentences like that might be not unusual, though:

Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren,

wir haben heute Ihre Sendung nach Australien erhalten. Sie wird heute in den Container verpackt und voraussichtlich Ende der Woche verschifft. Ein Avis an den Empfänger geht heute noch raus.

  • I had to read your explanation to understand the meaning of the sentences. I would never say "nach Deutschland/Australien" in such a context but rephrase it as "mit Ziel Deutschland/Australien" or "für den Weiterversandt nach D/A".
    – Iris
    Feb 21, 2017 at 16:17
  • @Iris I've added obvious examples to my question, to make the context clear. I didn't at first, since I was – and still am – interested in general applying rules.
    – woerndl
    Feb 21, 2017 at 16:51

This is no more correct than its English equivalent:

*I have received an item to the U.S.

Receiving things is something that you do in a particular place. It's understandable but quite wrong to use directional modifiers with such verbs. The idiomatic version would be

I had something sent to the U.S.

since sending things naturally takes directional modifiers. German follows exactly the same principle, so you should say

Ich habe (mir) einen Gegenstand nach Deutschland schicken/liefern lassen.

  • 1
    Why U.S. and not Germany? The English equivalent of the OP's sentence is I have received an item to Germany, not to the U.S.
    – c.p.
    Feb 21, 2017 at 14:15
  • It is unquestionably not the most common sentence structure and your last example is of course what you should write. But I still don't think there is a rule that would disallow “nach” in my examples. Just as you can say “an der Grenze nach Deutschland” when implying movement.
    – woerndl
    Feb 21, 2017 at 14:29
  • You can use "nach" as in your example "nach Deutschland". But you can't use "erhalten" combined" with "nach", that's your grammatical error. Kilians last sentence is correct. Alternativly you could say "Ich habe in Deutschland einen Gegenstand erhalten..."
    – IQV
    Feb 21, 2017 at 14:48
  • @IQV So it would also be incorrect to say “Ich habe ein Paket nach Deutschland erhalten” or "Ich habe einen Brief nach Deutschland erhalten"?
    – woerndl
    Feb 21, 2017 at 14:51
  • 1
    @awenro Yes, these two sentences are both not correct.
    – IQV
    Feb 21, 2017 at 14:55

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