How to convince someone for whom German is not a native language that the sentence

Er schuf zuerst einen Sockel, auf welchen er dann das weitere Werk aufbaute.

is wrong grammar, while

Er schuf zuerst einen Sockel, auf welchem er dann das weitere Werk aufbaute.

is correct?


  • Having German as a native language, this seems intuitively obvious to me, but I realized that I do not know the available lexical and grammatical reference works well enough to factually prove to someone else that the first version is wrong, especially since the difference is slight.

  • It seems intuitively obvious to me that it is wrong grammar to ask, using the accusative case, 'Auf wen wurde aufgebaut?', while it is correct to ask 'Auf wem wurde aufgebaut?' (or of course: 'Worauf wurde aufgebaut.')


It would be wrong to convince anyone that one of the cases is wrong - Both are correct.

Ich baue eine Antenne auf den Antennenmast

Ich baue eine Antenne auf dem Antennenmast

are both correct - The first one expresses the movement of the Antenna towards the mast, the second concentrates on the location of the build.

In a lot of places that involve verbs of movement and locations, accusative denotes movement towards a location and dative movement within that location.

Just like

Ich fahre in die Stadt


Ich fahre in der Stadt

  • 3
    The verb in question is not bauen but aufbauen, and aufbauen auf with accusative is at least unusual, unlike bauen auf. – RHa Jan 14 '18 at 21:39
  • Thanks; I have come to think that you are right, in the sense that English grammar is not sufficiently formalized to make one of the variants clearly wrong. – guest Jan 19 '18 at 20:03

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