For example, how do I know whether it is

Ich schreibe etwas auf Facebook


Ich schreibe etwas in Facebook

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  • Learn all the verbs. Most of the prepositions follow easy patterns, but not all (just like on English). If you miss a preposition, it sounds ugly, but mostly it leaves your sentence comprehensible. – peterh Mar 25 at 13:32

Ich schreibe etwas auf Facebook.


Ich schreibe etwas in Facebook.


Kinder sind über die Mitteilung begeistert.


Kinder sind von der Mitteilung begeistert.


Confused? Often, there isn't a single preposition that matches but several.

The difference between auf and in for example is whether you consider the item a surface or a container. For most things it's common sense but for abstract concepts as Facebook — which may be either a page, so it's a surface, or a book, so it's a container — both prepositions apply.

The difference between über and von when talking about abstract concepts is all about reception. If you talk über something, this literally means you place the item on the ground in the middle of the group so everyone could watch it while you are talking. If you talk von in contrary, it means the item is not within reach and people have to use their imagination.

  • Here is another illustration of Janka's argument: Ich schreibe etwas in der Zeitung: I am a journalist and I publish something in my newspaper. - Ich schreibe etwas auf die Zeitung: I am a subscriber to that newspaper, read it during breakfast, have a nice idea for today and note it down somewhere on an empty spot in my copy of the newspaper. - Ich schreibe etwas an die Zeitung: I am upset about something the newsaper wrote, and I send the editors a letter to complain. – Christian Geiselmann Mar 26 at 18:02

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