I would use durch for both die Fußgängerzone and der Marktplatz, but in a text in my textbook,

über den Marktplatz

was used. Which one is correct then?

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    How would you say it in English? "Through the market square" sounds like ploughing through the cobble stones. "Over the market square" sounds right. – Rudy Velthuis Nov 27 '18 at 17:57

A Platz (town square) is the surface of a larger area on the ground. You can not be in a town square. This would mean, that half of you body is stuck in the ground. You can be auf (on) a Platz. You just can walk through the air above the square, but not through the square itself.

A Zone (zone) is a region with some specific rules/laws. So you can be in a zone and you can walk through it.


Durch means you are inside the item and pass through it while über means you cross it.

Ich bin durch das Gewimmel über den Marktplatz gegangen.

I crossed the market square through the masses.

It gets interesting as soon both options are valid:

Das Schiff fuhr durch den Ärmelkanal.

The ship passed the English Channel. (It's a ship going east-west.)

Das Schiff fuhr über den Ärmelkanal.

The ship crossed the English Channel. (It's a ferry, Dover-Calais.)


Your textbook is correct, but I disagree with the essentials of the previous answers. I doubt that it is possible to define the correct usage with logic or rules. You simply have to learn which preposition to use and what it means.

Hubert Schölnast e.g. writes:

A Platz (town square) is the surface of a larger area on the ground. You can not be in a town square. This would mean, that half of you body is stuck in the ground.

A Park (park) can also be described as the surface of a larger area on the ground. With some greens or plants on a Platz (square), the distinction between Park and Platz can even be quite fluent. Nevertheless you are in einem Park not auf einem Park and you can walk durch den Park and not über den Park, although you are auf einem Platz and walk über den Platz. Being in einem Park certainly does not mean that your body is stuck in the ground. There are also other compositions with Platz, which allow the usage of durch. e.g. durch den Campingplatz gehen (camping site).

It is neither obvious to me that a Platz refers to the surface of the square. I would rather, just as with a Fußgängerzone define it as a certain area.

Then there are locations where you can use both durch and über. If we stay with very related concepts, you can walk both durch einen Markt and über einen Markt (marked). In this case, both prepositions can to a certain extent be used interchangeably, although my stomach says that durch den Markt gehen is rather the act of passing through a market with the purpose of reaching something at the other side, while über den Markt gehen is more about strolling around at the market to watch or shop. I would even say that if Markt is used in the meaning of an indoor shop, you can only walk durch den Markt and not über den Markt.

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    The question was specifically about der Marktplatz, which is different from der Markt. Sure, one can go durch den Markt because it's an arrangement of boothes and shoppers to pass through. – Janka Nov 25 '18 at 22:35
  • @Janka I am not sure what you are trying to say, but if you are attempting to justify your explanation that 'durch means you are inside the item', how does that match with Park and Campingplatz and why can you be 'inside' a pedestrian zone, but not inside the area called a market square? – jarnbjo Nov 25 '18 at 22:49
  • Because durch den Platz means crossing through the flat surface. That makes no sense. You cannot be im Platz either, it has to be auf dem Platz. Puzzling, for der Hof, it depends on dialect. – Janka Nov 25 '18 at 22:52
  • @Janka Noone with a sane mind would interpret durch den Marktplatz as crossing through the surface of the ground. Coming to think of an example, I would e.g. much rather say der Bach verläuft durch den Marktplatz than using über in this context and that does not mean that the water is disappearing through a hole in the ground. Your attempt to use logic here is puzzling and does not make sense to me. – jarnbjo Nov 25 '18 at 23:09
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    @jarnbjo Dein Beispiel mit dem Bach ist doch eine Bestätigung von Jankas Aussage. Ein Bach schneidet sich in den Untergrund hinein, deswegen fließt der Bach normalerweise durch den Marktplatz, wenn überhaupt. Trat er jedoch wg. eines außergewöhnlichen Hochwassers über die Ufer und fließt nur über die Oberfläche, sagte man in der Tat, er fließe über den Marktplatz. Da zu einem Park auch Büsche, Sträucher, Hecken und Bäume gehören ist man nicht einfach über der Oberfläche sondern zwischen den Pflanzen. – user unknown Nov 26 '18 at 1:33

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