To understand German better I've been breaking down words in sentences to understand how the sentence is made up so that when I make my own, I have an idea of where to go with it, however, the I've seen sentences like this that throw me through a loop.

Ich gehe zu jemandem nach Hause.

To me, this translates to "I am going to somebody's to house." Which doesn't make sense in English. So, what is up with this?

  • Is "nach Hause" your problem? This is "home" with the meaning of "homewards". So the translation would be "I am going to somebody's home."
    – IQV
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 11:52
  • Yeah, that is, but I was under the impression from my dictionary that nach translated to "to". Thanks for the help!
    – Tayne
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 11:54
  • It does translate to to. But also to another dozen of English prepositions.
    – c.p.
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 12:01

1 Answer 1

  • Ich = I
    Subject. This is the part of speech that describes the thing that is performing the action. Subject is always in nominative case, and you often find the subject at position 1 of the sentence.
  • gehe = go
    Predicate. This is the part of speech that describes the action itself. It is a verb. In a German statement (»Aussagesatz«) the predicate (or at least a part of it) occupies always position 2 of the sentence.
  • zu jemandem = to somebody
    Prepositional object, i.e. an object that start with a preposition.
    • zu = to
      Local preposition. You use it when you want to tell the target of a movement.
    • jemandem = somebody
      Dative object. When used after »zu« the target of a moment.
  • nach Hause = home
    Prepositional object
    • nach = to
      Local preposition. You use it when you want to tell the target of a movement.
    • Hause = home
      Dative object. Target of a moment.

The part »nach Hause« literally is »to (towards) home«, but in English you just say »home«.

This sentence says two things:

  1. I go to somebody.
  2. I go (to a) home.

This only makes sense, if the home is not your (the sentences I) home, but somebody's home. So the complete sentence is in English:

I go to somebody's home.

You can replace somebody by a concrete person:

Ich gehe zu Michael nach Hause.
I go to to Michael's home.

This is also worth knowing:

  • nach Hause = homewards
  • zu Hause = at home

Normally you use »zu« to describe a movement to a target, and the target ist written after »zu«. But in combination with »Hause« it describes a place, not a movement!

  • Thank you very much, this explanation /really/ gave me a great idea of how to structure a sentence like this!
    – Tayne
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 18:29

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.