In the Duden article "nach", we read:

Bedeutungen, Beispiele und Wendungen

1c. zu … hin, in

Grammatik: räumlich

Gebrauch: landschaftlich


  • nach dem (in den) Süden fahren
  • nach (zur) Oma gehen

Does it mean that "nach dem Osten" is always incorrect, or at least "landschaftlich"? I ask this question because "nach dem Osten" is in many (apparently serious) books available on Google books. Perhaps it was correct some decades ago?

Edit: As I thought, "landschaftlich" means "regional". It seems to me that a "landschaftlich" use is somewhat less correct than an universal use. In a State document, for example, one shouldn't expect a word used in a regional meaning. That's the reason of my question.

Edit: To make my question clearer : according to Duden, "nach dem Osten" is "landschaftlich" when used in the meaning of "in den Osten". But perhaps there are cases when "nach dem Osten" is used in another sense than "in den Osten". If I'm not wrong, "nach Osten" doesn't have exactly the same meaning as "in den Osten". Thus "nach Osten" is not regional (correct me if I am wrong). So I wonder if "nach dem Osten" can be used exactly in the same meaning as "nach Osten", and thus (in this hypothesis) whithout regionalism. For example, I presume that the famous expression "Drang nach Osten" is not a regionalism. But we also encounter "Drang nach dem Osten" : is that a regionalism ?

  • 4
    Why should it be "always incorrect" when it is mentioned as a "landschaftlich" example? What do you mean by "or at least landschaftlich"?
    – IQV
    Mar 6, 2018 at 7:45
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    "Landschaftlich" means that it is used in this way only in certain regions.
    – IQV
    Mar 6, 2018 at 7:50
  • 1
    You should add this to your question to clarify it. So you prevent it from being closed as "unclear what you are asking".
    – IQV
    Mar 6, 2018 at 8:03
  • 4
    Für mich ist Landschaft eine Wiese, ein Bach, ein paar Bäume. Was Duden mit landschaftlich bezeichnet würde ich regional nennen. Mar 6, 2018 at 8:21
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    I am still not sure what you're asking. Does "Nach dem Osten fahren is correct, but only used in certain regions." answer your question?
    – RoyPJ
    Mar 6, 2018 at 8:27

2 Answers 2


A »Landschaft« is a "landscape" or a "scenery", but it also can mean "region" or "territory".

So the derived adjective »landschaftlich« in most contexts means "scenic", but when used in dictionaries it means "regional". And this again means, that this word or phrase is common (and correct) in some regions, while it is less often used (and therefore considered to be incorrect) in other regions.

This means:

A sentence like

Jürgen geht nach seiner Oma.

will be spoken by native speakers in some regions, and in this region this is considered to be correct, because everybody understands this sentence, and because everybody in this area uses this construction.

But in other regions people will tell you, that this sentence is grammatically wrong. They will tell you, that

Jürgen geht zu seiner Oma.

is the only correct possibility to describe this action. And they are right in their region. In their region nobody uses this construction, and so no one has heard this construction before, and because this construction is not a member of the set of common grammatical constructions, it is considered to be wrong.

What should you learn from this?

When you travel through Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, South-Tyrol (in Italy), Belgium and Luxembourg, you will enter larger or smaller regions where people speak German in a little different way than elsewhere. What you hear there can be a dialect, colloquial speech or the regional version of standard German. This classification is very often unclear. But you can assume, that printed texts (for example in newspapers) that are not made for artistic purposes (like poems or lyrics of songs) are always written in standard German. So, when you find a phrase frequently used in a communal newspaper, then you can consider, that it is correct, at least in the region where this newspaper is available. And this allows you, to use this phrase in this region too, because it is absolutely correct there.

But when you plan to publish something, that will be read in the complete German language area, then you should use only phrases and constructions, that are well known and in daily use everywhere. In this case you should avoid anything that is marked as landschaftlich in a dictionary.

  • Thanks, it is very clear. Thus my question was not so stupid. Now, I would like to know if "nach dem Osten" is always a regionalism. For example, is "Drang nach dem Osten" a regionalism ?
    – Panurge
    Mar 6, 2018 at 9:01
  • @Panurge: Yes. I live in Austria, and I never have heard the phrase »nach dem Osten« before. It is absolutely unusual here. I would have said that it is wrong, but obviously there are regions where people use this construction. (Sorry, I have no idea where exactly.) And this is exactly what the term »landschaftlich« means in a dictionary. You can believe what is written in dictionaries. Errors in dictionaries are extremely rare. Mar 6, 2018 at 9:06
  • Not that I don't believe the Duden, I wanted to be sure of the sense of the article.
    – Panurge
    Mar 6, 2018 at 9:17
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    You will hardly find a newspaper, including from the regional ones, that uses something different than standard German. One exception may be seen in Austrian peculiarities, especially regarding lexems that are used only there, most typically Jänner for Januar or Topfen for Quark. But except from a number of special lexems in Austria, newspaper language is generally on the highest level of standardization or uniformisation. Quite logical so: newspaper journalists are those who work professionally with written language for univeral use (not regarding a special field) every day. Mar 6, 2018 at 9:46
  • @HubertSchölnast books.google.se/… - Austrian book, printed in Austria, Austrian Author, 2006
    – tofro
    Mar 6, 2018 at 14:32

Contrary to our beloved book of reference in (nearly) all matters life, the Duden, I would not classify

nach dem Osten ziehen (or whereever)

as a landschaftlich expression. First, the idea of Landschaften where people maintain peculiarities of language is on the decline as, first, people have gotten more mobile, and second, even those who keep sitting in their places of birth or childhood are more often than not connected to a nation-wide or even global stream of communication, so that those landschaftlich Elements are fading away.

Rather I would classify nach dem Süden ziehen (or whereever) as being part of certain registers of language, especially

  • poetry

  • old-style / historic / retro

  • humouristic purposes

That means: you can use this expression today, but you should know where.

In everyday communication, business communication, science and research, media communication etc. it would be unusual or even involuntarily funny.

Other than with compass directions, expressions such as

nach Oma gehen [Standard: zu or zur]

nach Aldi gehen [Standard: zu or zum]

are rather markers of certain social milieus (usually on the lower end of formal education achievements), although here indeed it is possible that there are still some landschaftlich spots on the map where this may be regular, unmarked use in everyday communication. But you should avoid it, unless you really know what you do - and where.

  • Note there are constructs that only allow "nach" as a preposition, like in "Der Giebel des Hauses ist nach dem Osten ausgerichtet"
    – tofro
    Mar 6, 2018 at 14:27
  • @tofro In modern language rather "Der Giebel des Hauses ist nach Osten ausgerichtet" (not "nach dem"). Mar 6, 2018 at 16:20
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    You're not reading a lot of real estate advertising, do you? From the last 3 I have seen, 2 had "nach dem Osten".
    – tofro
    Mar 6, 2018 at 17:41
  • @tofro Indeed I am not a regular reader of real estate advertising. I was 4 years ago or so, but the expression did not catch my eye. Could it be you see it often because you read real estate offers for a certain region? - As a side note I would add that real estate ads are not a good source for adequate style (as you know, of course). The real estate business is famous for its silly clichee terminology and pompousness. Mar 7, 2018 at 9:05
  • @tofro: Im interested into this. Can you give an example? I googled "nach dem Osten ausgerichtet", but I didn't find anything.
    – S. M. Roch
    Mar 7, 2018 at 9:32

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