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As a non-native speaker, I am unable to wrap my head around the usage of prepositions. Just today in class, my teacher asked the following question from a text in A2 Sprach Training book.

Wer macht Parties in der Freizeit?

(We answered, "Ute".)

Now, my question here is, how is it that the two-way preposition in is used with the Dative here?

This is something which I learned in A1, that if the question answers to "Wo" we must use the preposition in Dative and if the question answers to "Wohin", we must use the preposition in Accusative. (Ich bin im Kino v.s. Ich gehe ins Kino). But the question being asked is neither "Wo" nor "Wohin" but Wer. Why is the preposition used as in der and not as in die ?

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When in is used to give a place or a time as answers to questions with wann or wo you must use the Dative. When it is used to give a direction (as in the answer to the question with wohin) it stands with Accusative.

In the question Wer macht Parties in der Freizeit? the expression in der Freizeit specifies the time, so the Dative is used.

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    I'd like to add that there are also time configurations that take in + acc... "Wir tanzen in den Mai." The point is that a direction is expressed by acc and a fixed point by dat. no matter whether time or place
    – Emanuel
    Feb 17, 2013 at 20:44
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    "Auf ins nächste Jahrtausend" :-)
    – stacky-bit
    Feb 18, 2013 at 8:17
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    @Emanuel I didn't understand that example at all. Why is 'Mai' not in dative? How can time be a direction, even in figurative sense? And if there is a possibility of giving an answer to 'wann' in accusative, why make the rule in the first place? And could you please give me the traslation of the "tanzen" sentence; I am not able to wrap my mind around this concept. Mar 20, 2013 at 18:10
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    ok so first of: noone makes rules. Rules in language are but a simplified description of what is. Then: the sentence means something like "We're dancing into Mai" for instance from the 30th of April. And then it is not answering "wann", it is somewhat answering "bis wann". And this is not so different to "bis wohin" which is a direction/destination. And why shouldn't there be a point in time as a destination. Sure, it's abstract but it makes sense to me. Another example would be "Wir feiern ins neue Jahr." or "Wir feiern in meinen Geburtstag rein." ... now what is birthday, anyway? Time? Place
    – Emanuel
    Mar 20, 2013 at 18:55
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    all those words are indications of things or entities after or. Montag is an "entity" and so is "Park". One is local one is for time but what difference does it make for the grammar. If the noun(pronoun, noun replacing adverb) is used as a destination... accusative is probably more likely than dative.
    – Emanuel
    Mar 20, 2013 at 19:01

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