1. Ich schreibe an die Tafel.

  2. Ich schreibe an der Tafel.

Are they both correct? And what’s the difference?

  • 1) isn't quite correct. You'd only use this in combination with a direct object as well: Ich schreibe den Satz/die Aufgabe/es/... an die Tafel. – Kilian Foth Nov 11 '17 at 9:16
  • @KilianFoth okay , and the second sentence wouldn‘t need a direct object ? – user30598 Nov 11 '17 at 9:40

They are both correct.

The difference is:

  • Ich schreibe an die Tafel means I write something onto the blackboard (or whiteboard, depending on the setup).

  • Ich schreibe etwas an der Tafel means I write something while standing at the blackboard. It is not necessary to use the blackboard in that sentence, I could also write something to a sheet of paper while standing there.

The first stresses the action of writing to a blackboard, the second stresses my position when writing something (that still MIGHT be writing on the blackboard, but not necessarily).

  • 1
    Oh , i see . Now it‘s clear . Thank you Torsten 😊 – user30598 Nov 11 '17 at 7:58

German has nine dual-way prepositions, these are an, auf, hinter, neben, in, über, unter, vor and zwischen. For those nine prepositions (and only for those), the preposition+accusative means a different thing than preposition+dative. With verbs of motion, this is usually the difference between direction and position.

Ich gehe an den Strand. (accusative)

I walk to the beach.

Ich gehe am/an dem Strand. (dative)

I walk on the beach.

The exact meanings depend on the verb. For schreiben, it's

Ich schreibe (etwas) an die Tafel. (accusative)

I write (something) onto the blackboard.

Ich schreibe an der Tafel. (dative)

I write at the blackboard.

  • 2
    Thank you Janka for the comprehensive explanation , i already studied the Wechsel Prepositions , but you know , there‘s always exceptions ( Ausnahmen ) that need an explanation , schwimmen and tanzen for example , not regarded as motion for the German . German Preposition is always a nightmare to me 😢 – user30598 Nov 11 '17 at 14:00
  • 1
    As English ones are for German speakers. – Janka Nov 11 '17 at 14:26
  • Uh? Schwimmen and tanzen are perfectly regular motion verbs. Ankommen for example isn't. Maybe you mistake direction as motion? – Janka Nov 11 '17 at 14:28
  • Well , i’m not really sure but i remember my German teacher once told me , “ we , the Germans don’t regard the See as a room “ so when someone swim in the see , this action is don’t regarded as a “ Bewegung “ !! – user30598 Nov 11 '17 at 16:22
  • 1
    Erst schwimmen die Fische in das Netz, danach schwimmen sie im Netz. This is direction vs. position. – Janka Nov 11 '17 at 16:28

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