I've heard that both "hinunter" and "nach unten" means "downwards". They both mean a direction (while lone "unten" means a location).

What is the difference between them?

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    These words are far from having a similar meaning. What did your research at dictionaries tell you, and what didn't you understand? nach makes the difference regarding the location. Mar 7, 2020 at 18:52
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    @πάνταῥεῖ Here it says specifically that they are synonymous. From experience I know, that answers here give bigger insight. But I suppose word questions are now frowned upon?
    – mz71
    Mar 7, 2020 at 19:05
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    @πάνταῥεῖ From what I know, unter is a location, while hinunter is a direction. runter can mean both (so I edited the question). Am I mistaken?
    – mz71
    Mar 7, 2020 at 19:06
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    "runter can mean both" No runter never means a specific location. Where did you get that from? Mar 7, 2020 at 19:13
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    OP is right and you're wrong @πάνταῥεῖ. Ich gehe nach unten, Ich gehe hinunter und Ich gehe (he-)runter can all mean the same thing. Mar 7, 2020 at 19:34

1 Answer 1


Depending on the context, these two terms are relatively synonymous. The main difference is that hinunter explicitly expresses a move away from the speaker. The opposite would be herunter - a move towards the speaker.

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    While this might be the definition you find in a dictionary, I think many Germans are unaware of this and colloquially use these two words as they please. Mar 8, 2020 at 10:00
  • <trying to be funny> Swabians distinguish between directions depending on the position of the narrator ("naa" and "raa"). But one can argue if that's German at all :-) </trying to be funny>
    – user41853
    Mar 8, 2020 at 10:14
  • yes, you are right
    – äüö
    Mar 8, 2020 at 19:42
  • For Bavarian, it's "obi" (hinunter) and "oba" (herunter).
    – Bowi
    Mar 12, 2020 at 10:11

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