In English, we can use "by, with, via, through" in many situations interchangeably. In general all mean to use something.

In German, can we use them interchangeably? I mean for example "durch, via, bei, von"

  • lernen bei/durch/via Lehrer
  • fahren bei Bus
  • stören jmdn. via Musik

And etc.

  • 9
    I'm afraid your assumption is wrong. They're interchangeable neither in English nor in German. Dec 29, 2020 at 11:34
  • 2
    @BjörnFriedrich Yes, going by bus is quite different from going through the bus. Dec 30, 2020 at 4:04
  • Can you translate so in Englisch?
    – Olafant
    Dec 30, 2020 at 13:57

2 Answers 2


Your assumption is wrong. You can't interchange the words "by, with, via, through" in English

The mailbox is with via through by the bus stop.
Be back with via through by ten o'clock!.
Hamlet was written with via through by William Shakespeare.

He went by via through with his friends.
She cuts the rope by via through with a knife.
He spoke by via through with sadness in his voice.

And also in German you can't freely interchange "durch, via, bei, von" because they have different meanings (like their English counterparts)

Lisa lernt bei Professor Steiner.

The original meaning of this sentence is this: Lisa is located next to Professor Steiner (maybe in the same room) and there she is learning. In a figurative sense this means, the professor is teaching her (maybe even via distance learning, i.e. without really being next to each other). This sentence does not include the meaning, that professor Steiner is helpful for Lisa. This meaning also isn't excluded. The sentence just doesn't tell anything about helpfulness.

Lisa lernt durch Professor Steiner.

This sentence doesn't say anything about location or distances. It says, that the professor helps Lisa to learn. The professor is actively doing something to teach Lisa.

Lisa lernt von Professor Steiner.

Again there is no information about location or distances in this sentences. It means, that the professor does or did something that allows Lisa to learn. But it is not necessary that the professor is aware of Lisa learning. Today, in 21st century it is still possible to learn von Mozart, Shakespeare or Michelangelo although they are all dead for many centuries. But you can't learn durch them because the are not able to activity do anything now.

Lisa lernt via Professor Steiner.

This simply is wrong and makes no sense at all.

Hans fährt mit dem Bus.

Hans is traveling from one place to another and he takes the bus for his journey.

Hans fährt bei dem Bus.

Hans is driving his own car or he is riding a bike or uses any other vehicle but the bus. Hans is not in the Bus. He is driving in another vehicle side by side to the bus.

Hans fährt durch den Bus.

Hans is driving in his own vehicle and he crashes into the bus so hard, that he traverses through the whole bus. So, in his car, he hits a hole into the bus on one side, moves through the bus and leaves the bus on the other side, still in his own vehicle. (also note, that here we use accusative case, but the other prepositions needed dative case)

Hans fährt von dem Bus.
Hans fährt via dem Bus.

Both sentences are wrong and don't mean anything.

Hans fährt via Bus von Paris nach Berlin.

Note the missing article between via and Bus! This sentence means the same as »Hans fährt mit dem Bus von Paris nach Berlin« but when you use via, you have to say from where to where you are traveling. The sentence »Hans fährt via Bus« doesn't make much sense. Better use mit (and an article) instead.

Leon stört seine Eltern mit seiner Musik.

Leon disturbs and annoys his parents with his music. He is playing music but his parents don't like it.

Leon stört seine Eltern durch seine Musik.

This sentence means the same as the previous one. (Note, that mit needed seine Musik to be in dative case, while durch needs accusative case.)

Leon stört seine Eltern via seine Musik.

You can say it this way, but this is not recommended. This sentence means the same as the two previous sentences, but it still is a bad choice. Native speakers normally don't use via in such a sentence. It sounds aloof and strange.

Leon stört seine Eltern bei seine Musik.
Leon stört seine Eltern von seine Musik.

Wrong. No meaning.

  • 3
    It might be helpful to look at "by" and "bei" as false friends. Dec 29, 2020 at 10:20
  • small mistake: Hans crashes into the bus. Hans cannot crash the bus unless he's driving the bus. Dec 29, 2020 at 18:51
  • 1
    Or, the bus could be this bus Dec 29, 2020 at 18:53
  • 4
    I was thinking about using a skateboard or scooter to drive through the bus (from front to back), without any crashing :-)
    – Bergi
    Dec 29, 2020 at 21:40
  • Got nothing else to do all day long, do you... (upvoted) ;-) Dec 30, 2020 at 4:06

No, these words cannot be used interchangeably! Your example with bei is wrong, one would say ... mit dem Bus fahren.

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