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I’m really confused on which form to use. I’ve seen “in die Schule”, “in der Schule”, and “zur Schule” many times, yet I don’t know which and when I should use one. Could someone please explain this to me?

For example, I don’t know which of these sentences are correct:

  • Ich gehe in die Schule.
  • Ich gehe in der Schule.
  • Ich gehe zur Schule.
  • Ich bin in die Schule.
  • Ich bin in der Schule.
  • Ich bin zur Schule.
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    Related, maybe even a duplicate: german.stackexchange.com/questions/40282/… – RoyPJ Mar 15 '18 at 8:11
  • I used Google's translator to convert this question to German, then entered that translation into the German language Google. First on the hit list was this forum's question Präposition in “auf eine Schule gehen”. Two answers were given in German. The questioner gave the first answer a green star. Since my German isn't all that good I copied and pasted that answer into Google translator's(translate.google.com) German to English translator. That answer was brief, and had an example. Might that answer be useful to you, if you use some help from Google? – К. Келлогг Смиф Mar 15 '18 at 13:40
  • Incidentally, you might also be interested in the detailed comment given by @Stephie. – К. Келлогг Смиф Mar 15 '18 at 13:55
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In der Schule is the answer to the question where you actually are.

Wo bist Du gerade? In der Schule.

In die Schule is the answer to the question where you are headed.

Wohin gehst Du jetzt? In die Schule.

Please note that this mostly implies that you are also actually either enrolled there or work there.

Zur Schule is a bit ambiguous. It can either also answer the question where someone is currently headed.

Wohin gehst Du jetzt? Zur Schule.

Please note that this does not necessarily mean your are a student/teacher/otherwise employed there. It can mean that you are generally headed to the school as a meeting point.

But it can also be the general answer about your current "employment status".

Was machst Du? Arbeitest Du? Nein, ich gehe noch zur Schule.

As for the others:

Ich gehe in die Schule

Is correct. It means that you're on your way to school and class.

Ich gehe in der Schule

Is not correct when used by itself. It may be a valid answer though:

Musst Du noch auf's Klo? Nein, ich gehe in der Schule (aufs Klo)

That's actually a common use.

Ich gehe zur Schule

Correct, explained above.

Ich bin in die Schule

Almost never correct. Could be a very colloquial answer to a question, like

Was hast Du nach dem Frühstück gemacht? Ich bin in die Schule (gegangen).

Usually you'd expect a verb.

Ich bin in der Schule

Correct, see above.

Ich bin zur Schule

Like Ich bin in die Schule, used in the same contexts, but not correct when used by itself.

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You would write "in der Schule" (dative) if you are talking about someone who is in the school.

Ich bin in der Schule.

You would write "in die Schule" (accusative) if you are talking about going to school.

Ich gehe in die Schule.

"Zur Schule" is equivalent to "in die Schule".

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    It is commonly used and grammatically right and equivalent to say either "Ich gehe in die Schule" or "Ich gehe zur Schule". – Harald Lichtenstein Mar 15 '18 at 7:13
  • @HaraldLichtenstein: I changed the answer in line with your suggestion. Thanks for your help. – Tom Au Mar 15 '18 at 7:37
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For example, I don't know which of these sentences are correct:

Under certain conditions all of them could be seen as correct - but watch the context ;-)

Ich gehe in die Schule.
Ich gehe zur Schule.
Ich bin in der Schule.

See explanation from @Tom Au

Some comments on the other sentences, which you may hear or read colloquially:

Ich gehe in der Schule.

means that you do something "to go to" not now, but later in school:

"Warst du schon auf der Toilette?" - "Nein. Ich gehe in der Schule (auf die Toilette)".

The sentence

Ich bin in die Schule.

is actually wrong. You could say "Ich bin in die Schule gegangen" (perfect tense).
However, mostly less educated people, or people talking dialect, sometimes don't decline at all. They use the basic form ("die Schule") in all cases. Only in this context, the sentence is equivalent to "Ich bin in der Schule". You should use it neither in writing nor speaking.

Another possible construction is:

"Ich habe dich gestern auf der Straße gesehen. Wo bist du hin(gegangen)?" - "Ich bin in die Schule (gegangen)"

The same applies for

Ich bin zur Schule (gegangen).

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