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Wir leben in den Augenblick.
Wir leben in dem Augenblick.

Edit: Here is the text of the song I referred to: https://genius.com/Nate57-blaulicht-lyrics

For the first expression, the accusative is used, and for the second expression the dative. What is the difference in the meaning and the translation?

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    Both expressions are somewhat uncommon, although in certain context possible. (A more common expression would be "im Augenblick leben", i.e. without thinking too much for tomorrow.) Please add information on the context where you found these expressions. Aug 19, 2017 at 16:23
  • It's from a song of a german rapper nate57 - blaulicht. Aug 19, 2017 at 16:25
  • Well, okay, that's chiefly poetry then, or say: playing with words. There is not too much 'concrete' difference in the expressions. Both mean something like "being focused on enjoying life at the very moment, not thinking too much about the future", ant the author experiments a little bit with various (uncommon) ways to express this. Aug 19, 2017 at 17:45
  • A common expression for »Wir leben in dem Augenblick« would be: »Wir leben im Jetzt und Hier«
    – Pollitzer
    Aug 19, 2017 at 19:40
  • "Für den Augenblick, für den Moment" kenne ich, "im Augenblick" - von mir aus. "In den Augenblick" - was soll das heißen? "In den Tag hinein"? Aug 19, 2017 at 22:20

1 Answer 1

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In is one of those nine German prepositions that can take both accusative and dative. For these two-way prepositions, dative means a place while accusative means a direction.

This slight difference can also be used for poetic purposes.

Wir leben in den Augenblick.

We live into the moment.

Wir leben in dem Augenblick.

We live in the moment.


EDIT: Maybe it's easier to understand the difference with a non-poetic example. With times:

Wir feiern im Mai.

We have a party in May.

Wir feiern in den Mai.

We have a party on the edge of April to May.

With places:

Ein Schiff fährt in der Ferne.

A ship sails in the distance.

Ein Schiff fährt in die Ferne.

A ship sails (from this place) into the distance.

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  • I can't quite get the english version either cause I'm not a native english speaker. Should the first usage be understood like: "living through the moment"? Thank you. Aug 19, 2017 at 17:06
  • No, English through would be durch or mithilfe (two different meanings) in German. Maybe it's easier with a non-poetic example.
    – Janka
    Aug 19, 2017 at 18:59
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    @LearningMath: No, »living through the moment« is a wrong translation. Janka's translation is absolutely correct: »Living into the moment«. This English sentence is as senseless as the German. Aug 19, 2017 at 19:12
  • @HubertSchölnast Thanks for the response. So, since the English "Living into a moment" is senseless, can it be said like this: "Living through the moment"? Will this make sense somehow? Thanks again. Aug 19, 2017 at 19:18
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    @LearningMath: No. »through the« is »durch den« and »into the« is »in den«. »In den« is not »through the«. Also note: The meaning of every translation has to be as close as possible to the meaning of the original sentence. The German sentence is grammatically correct, but I already told you: It doesn't make much sense. So why should the English translation make any sense? Aug 19, 2017 at 20:00

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