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Ich gehe an der alten Tankstelle vorbei.

Why is this in the dative and not in the accusative case?

  • 6
    Could you please tell, why you originally assumed this should be accusative? – Arsak Apr 2 at 11:07
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    It would not surprise me if this were a duplicate. – Rudy Velthuis Apr 2 at 11:42
  • Related (German) question. – guidot Apr 3 at 13:09
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That is because the verb vorbeigehen calls for a place, not for a direction. You are not heading for this place, you only pass it.

Someone may have told you the nine dual-way prepositions take accusative for motion, but this is wrong. They take accusative for directions.

Ich gehe in die alte Tankstelle. (accusative)

I walk into the old gas station.

Ich gehe in der alten Tankstelle. (dative)

I walk around inside the old gas station.


Ich fahre an die alte Tankstelle. (accusative)

I drive to the old gas station.

Ich fahre an der alten Tankstelle. (dative)

I drive around at the old gas station.

  • The answer is good, but the English in the last sentence is incorrect: „I drive at the old gas station“ is wrong. No one says that. Unless you mean „I‘m driving at the old gas station to crash into it.“ I usually just say „Ich fahre zur Tankstelle.“ Also, English speakers don‘t distinguish between „I walk into the gas station“ and „I walk inside the gas station.“ The two are used synonymously. But if you say „I walk around inside the gas station“ then it‘s clear you are already inside the building looking around. – SteveL Apr 3 at 4:36
  • I've followed your advice and added around to both, as the meaning in German is you are doing something at that place, rather than doing something to reach that place. – Janka Apr 3 at 12:48

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