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I encountered the following sentence in my German lesson:

"Wir fahren in die Kantstraße, weil wir da schlafen."

If I were to write this sentence myself, I would probably have used "zu" to mean we are going to drive to Kantstraße. My understanding is that "in" is used when your destination will be within a building. I suppose in the above sentence, the speaker is indicating they will stay at a building on Kantstraße, and thus their destination is in a building. But, this is implied rather than explicitly stated. Is this the reason why "in" is used here?

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  • Related question in German.
    – guidot
    Dec 8 '20 at 15:35
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    German prepositions often don't have a clear connection to meaning and there are some prep. + noun and verb + prep. combinations you just have to memorize. If it makes you feel better, English is just as bad; for example why can you be "in" a field, but "on" a beach, and either "in" or "on" a street?
    – RDBury
    Dec 8 '20 at 15:57
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    Im Sommer kann man auch auf dem Grünstreifen der Kantstraße schlafen, und dennoch sagen: "Wir fahren in die Kantstraße, weil wir da schlafen." (Wo schlafen wir? In der Kantstraße.) Oder man kann im Auto oder Bus i.d. Kstr. schlafen. "Wir fahren zur Kantstraße, weil wir da schlafen." wäre auch nicht falsch. Dec 9 '20 at 2:08
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Wir fahren in die Kantstraße, um dort spazieren zu gehen.

would also be fine. It has nothing to do with whether a building is entered or not. "In" is always used with "Straße".

The situation would be different with Damm, for example:

Ich gehe auf dem Ku'Damm spazieren. (Kurfürstendamm in Berlin)


"Wohin fährt die U-Bahn?" "Zur Kantstraße." / "Zum Ku'Damm."

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  • "Wohin fährt die U-Bahn?" "Zur Kantstraße." - But this U-Bahn might stop near the street and cross it. "In" would imply that the U-Bahn enters the street.
    – mic
    Dec 9 '20 at 13:44
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In can be used as direction for buildings, but there are many more options as the following examples show:

  • in die Schweiz (into Switzerland); note, however, that most country names use nach for a direction, as nach Frankreich
  • in den Sonnenschein (into the sunshine, applies to other weather conditions as well)
  • in den Wald (into the forrest)
  • in das Schwimmbad (into the swimming bath), in den See (into the lake)
  • in die Stadt (may denote the full town area, not just shops).

There exist several questions, which preposition to use for which type of location, some of which are already in the comments.

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