I knew the meaning of this sentence that we should place the napkin in our laps, but I want to know why there is auf preposition in this sentence. Besides previously, I have checked dictionaries, and I didn’t find any specific preposition for gehören.

Beim Essen gehört die Serviette auf den Schoß und nicht in den Hemdkragen.

  • 1
    "I didn’t find any specific preposition" There isn't a specific preposition, one can use gehören with auf, in, über, unter, etc. Commented May 17, 2020 at 15:23
  • 3
    "gehören" (in this context) expresses that something ought tp be in a certain position. This position could be described by any spatial preposition; and of course, it is also possible to describe a desired status that is not even a spatial relation (Der Hosenstall gehört geschlossen, die Hände gehören gewaschen, ...) Commented May 17, 2020 at 16:53
  • @HagenvonEitzen that's helpful, thank you.
    – Toobatf
    Commented May 18, 2020 at 13:30

1 Answer 1


The English say in the lap, the Germans say on top of the lap. It's as simple as that. Not all prepositions translate 1:1.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.