To say "in the middle of (something)" - when should one use "mitten IN" and when should one use "mitten AUF" ?

Also, is this always used with dative or is it different sometimes ?

For instance:

1) Er rennt mitten in/auf der Nacht.

2) Er rennt mitten in/auf der Strasse.

3) Die Kugel traf ihn mitten in/auf die/der Stirn.

  • 2
    Welcome to German.SE. What did your dictionary tell you as differences between in and auf? In case english is (close enough to be) your mother tongue - how would you write these examples in english to express your desired intention? (I assume some expamples might then feel self explanatory) PS: please use not only "in the middle of" for your examples. Mar 30 '20 at 17:22
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    @ShegitBrahm why do you need the examples in English? Just curious, what can you deduce from their translations.
    – c.p.
    Mar 30 '20 at 17:33
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    On would use "mittin in" for places where one would use "in", and "mitten auf" for places where one would use "auf" - it's as simple as that. Both "in" and "auf" can be used with accusative and dative, and the same applies for "mitten in" and "mitten auf" too.
    – RHa
    Mar 30 '20 at 17:47
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    @RHa Why the answer in the comments?
    – c.p.
    Mar 30 '20 at 18:45
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    @c.p. to get more from the intention of an example from OP. translating everything with "in the middle of" limits me in understanding/ hinting the difference. Because I see differences and as there was earlier the question about "über vs. durch", it came to my mind that a similiar difference is taken place here. Mar 31 '20 at 6:13

1) Er rennt mitten in der Nacht.


More examples:

  • mitten am Tag
  • mitten in der Stunde

2) Er rennt auf der Straße. or Er rennt mitten auf der Straße.


More examples:

  • Er rennt mitten auf dem Weg.
  • Er rennt mitten auf der Tartanbahn.
  • Er rennt mitten auf dem Marktplatz. / Er rennt über den Marktplatz.

3a) Die Kugel traf ihn mitten in die Stirn.

It is the place and in additional it is emphasized that it got under the skin or into the head.

3b) Die Kugel traf ihn mitten auf der Stirn.

Its the place on your forehead.


2b) Er rennt in der Straße.

Yes, it is possible, but it emphasizes the street with its name. E. g.

Er rennt (mitten) in der Bahnhofsstraße.

Then you say more:

Er rennt durch die Bahnhofsstraße.

It depends on the context.

  • 2
    I can also "in der Straße rennen". See similiar case: german.stackexchange.com/a/48119/36160 Mar 31 '20 at 6:15
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    And of course, "mitten auf die Straße" is possible, as well. Mar 31 '20 at 10:45
  • Thanks Jean for your detailed answer ! And thanks also to Shegit Brahm and O.R. Mapper for their helpful comments ! Mar 31 '20 at 14:15
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    Beware that "place" does nto imply "auf": mitten im Raum, mitten im Gewühl, mitten im Rampenlicht. Also, while in die Stirn emphasizes direction, I would still say in die Stirn for the place (But "Er hat ein Muttermal auf der Stirn") Mar 31 '20 at 20:52

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