My doubt is with respect to this sentence (in perfect)

Er ist zum Büro gegangen.

My teacher taught me that we have to use the verb sein as helping verb whenever there is a movement. However, why do we use a dative preposition zu + dem rather than an accusative preposition in + das? Isn't the verb gehen an accusative verb?
What is wrong with the following sentence?

Er ist ins Büro gegangen.

  • 1
    Since your question isn't really about the perfect tense, I amended the question. For example in present tense, it's the same thing: "Ich gehe zum/ins Büro."
    – Em1
    Nov 19, 2012 at 18:13
  • 1
    Wenn er zum Büro geht, geht er nicht notwendig auch hinein - vielleicht bleibt er im Sekretariat hängen? "Ins Büro gehen" sagt, er geht auch hinein. Nov 20, 2012 at 3:56

3 Answers 3


There is nothing wrong with either sentence.

Er ist zum Büro gegangen

focusses more on the way from his home to the office building, or from his living room to his study or whatever is appropriate to the situation, while

Er ist ins Büro gegangen

focusses mainly on either his departure (e.g. from home) or his arrival at the office.

  • So is it accepted to use dative preposition to an object when the verb is accusative?
    – thandasoru
    Nov 19, 2012 at 10:02
  • 4
    Ah, sorry, I overlooked that part of your question. Each preposition demands a case, i.e. the noun (phrase) the preposition refers to has to be in that case. "Zu" demands dative. There are prepositions that allow more than one case. "In", for instance, allows both dative and accusative: dative for a place (der Mann sitzt im Büro) and accusative for a direction (der Mann geht in das Büro).
    – elena
    Nov 19, 2012 at 11:03

Both sentences are correct, the meaning is a little bit different.
I'd translate it as

  1. He went to the office. (Er ist zum Büro gegangen.)
  2. He went into the office. (Er ist ins Büro gegangen.)

Gehen per se is not an accusative verb and it is not limited to one preposition only. You can use in, zu, vor, durch, aus, etc with it. Some make sense with Büro and some don't (mit). Which to use depends on what you want to say... just as the other answers pointed out. For completion I'd like to mention that also this is technically possible:

Er geht im Büro.

  • Oh, I did not know this. Thank you for the answer, much appreciated. I am having a test this Sunday at Goethe Institut and this information came just in the right time. Thanks :-)
    – thandasoru
    Nov 21, 2012 at 11:24
  • 5
    I'd like to point out, because I think it might not be clear to every learner, that "Er geht im Büro" means that he is walking inside the office, rather than going there.
    – fifaltra
    Dec 28, 2013 at 16:19
  • I dont under stand why "er geht im Buro" is correct. The rule is if a präposition is a wechseln, we ask wo oder wohin. If wo is the appropriate question use dative, wohin use accusative. So, wohin geht er? Er get ins Büro. Feb 23, 2016 at 7:44
  • 1
    @Rodney Monsanto Tabernero: Er geht im Büro is “technically possible”, just as Emanuel said; it means something different from Er geht ins Büro, however – namely, that he is walking inside the office.
    – chirlu
    Feb 23, 2016 at 9:07
  • I asked my german friend and he told me "er geht im buro" makes no sense. He is walking inside the office is "er geht im büro herum". Feb 27, 2016 at 17:32

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