When I say "I read books in the morning", it is written as

Ich lese am (an dem) Morgen Bücher.

In this word order, the word "Morgen" has a dative case. However I think it is also possible to write the sentence by moving the word "Morgen" to the beginning of the sentence. So in this case, is it correct to say:

In der Morgen lese Ich Bücher.

or it is always:

An dem Morgen lese Ich Bücher.

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    Why do you think that the form of Morgen depends on the position in the sentence? – RHa Feb 13 at 21:36
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    And why do you think that "am" is a contraction of "in dem"? – O. R. Mapper Feb 13 at 22:14
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    It's hard to understand what you're asking about. You can move the "am Morgen" to the beginning of the sentence, but that does not make it the subject, so "Morgen" can still not be nominative. It is still dependent on the preposition, so it has to be dative. Is that the question? Or is it about "an" vs "in"? – HalvarF Feb 15 at 7:56

Short answer:


Long answer:

Note that »am« is not »in dem« but »an dem«.

So, these are correct versions:

Ich lese am Morgen Bücher.
Ich lese an dem Morgen Bücher. (unusual and rare, but still correct)
Am Morgen lese ich Bücher.

And these are wrong versions:

Ich lese in dem Morgen Bücher.
In der Morgen lese ich Bücher.
In dem Morgen lese ich Bücher.

You have to use the preposition an which can take accusative or dative case

  1. Accusative: Laura hat den Termin an den Morgen verlegt.
  2. Dative: Der Termin findet an dem (=am) Morgen statt.

Nominative case is always wrong.

#1 is a temporal direction and directions take accusative case in German while #2 is a temporal place, and places need dative case.

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    Two suggestions for addition: 1) "An dem Morgen lese ich Bücher." is, of course, another correct version. 2) The constructions that use "an dem Morgen" instead of "am Morgen" sound as if you were referring to a specific morning rather than "the morning" as a specific time of any given day. Thus, unless there is any preceding context, "Ich lese an dem Morgen Bücher." will somewhat raise the expectation of a subsequent relative clause to indicate which morning you are referring to. – O. R. Mapper Feb 13 at 23:26
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    Worth to note that in this post "Morgen" is always "morning" and not "tomorrow". – DonQuiKong Feb 14 at 10:35
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    @DonQuiKong: In written German it is hard to mix up Morgen = morning (a noun) and morgen = tomorrow (an adverb) because in German all nouns are always written with an uppercase first letter while all non-nouns are only written with uppercase first letter if they are the first word of a sentence, which is not the case in any of the examples in my answer. – Hubert Schölnast Feb 14 at 20:38

As a side-note worth to mention I think:

You cannot say "In der Morgen" (would also be fundamentally incorrect since "Morgen " is masculine) or (as long as you solely refer to the daytime morning) "im Morgen" (aka "in dem Morgen"), but you can say the quite similar but more colloquial "In der Früh" (feminine, regionally depended). Worth to mention the grammatical inconsistency here in terms of "an"/"am" vs. "in"/"im". In terms of language consistency and precision (of the context of speech), worth to mention that "in der Früh" is actually the better one here.

Updated: This aspect came a bit late into my mind as I read Hubert's answer, so as an update point here: There is a case, where you can say "in den Morgen": For temporal direction semantics: For instance

"Diese Gesprächsrunde geht bis in den frühen Morgen hinein" for

"This debate lasts until the early morning".

PS: Side-note number two and a bit off-topic but mabye interesting:

You can actually say "Im Morgen" in german within a totally different context, namely with the usage of "Morgen" as "tomorrow" (neuter) while referring to some kind of future foresight for instance:

"Mental lebt er noch im Gestern, Sie schon im Morgen".


"Mentally, he lives in the past, she in the future already."

  • There is no "grammatical inconsistency" here. The reason why it's in der Früh is that it's die Früh(e) (feminine) whereas der Morgen is masculine. – RHa Feb 14 at 9:44
  • No, it's an inconsisteny in terms of "an" versus "in". Or do you say "Im morgen"? ... Worth to say, that "in der Früh" is a bit more precise since "am" is commonly connoted with some kind of border/edge locality. – Secundi Feb 14 at 10:07
  • With more precise I meant: More precise in terms of overall language consistency. "am" is almost never used to emphasize that something is inside of something or inside a time range as for this example. – Secundi Feb 14 at 10:16
  • PS: Edited my answer to make this clear. – Secundi Feb 14 at 10:29
  • @Secundi When it comes to the time of the day, an is not so inconsistent: am Morgen/Mittag/Abend/Tag is more often than almost never, and why does the preposition for times need to match spatial etc. prepositions? Furthermore, in Austrian Standard German it's very common in other situations, too: am Lager, am Land, .... On the other hand, you have in der Frühe/Nacht, but these are in my opinion subject to the standard usage, so no exception either. – amadeusamadeus Feb 21 at 14:53

For what it is worth, I would normally use "morgens" as in:

Ich lese Bücher morgens. Morgens lese ich Bücher. Ich lese morgens Bücher.

(All three have slightly different meanings. The first is the answer to "What do you read in the morning?", the second to "What do you do in the morning" and the third to "When do you read books?")

  • so the stress of the sentence is put in the middle of the sentence? – Mrt Feb 14 at 14:16
  • This does not address the question. – idmean Feb 14 at 18:30
  • @idmean actually it does. The OP was essentially asking about German word order. Whilst I pointed out that morgens is IMHO more idiomatic than Am Morgen or An dem Morgen I concentrated my answer on the subtle differences that German word order implies. German word order is much more flexible than English, effectively anything goes, but each variant carries different emphasis and hence meaning. I thought it would be a useful answer to illustrate these differences – Jonathan Willcock Feb 14 at 20:07
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    While I agree this does not address the question, the question was pretty unclear. However, the last paragraph in patentheses is just plain wrong (-1). In a written sentence, the main emphasis is not on the middle of the sentence. In spoken languange, you can put emphasis on a word by putting stress on it, but otherwise, the way to put emphasis on some part of the sentence is to either move it to the beginning or to the end. – HalvarF Feb 15 at 7:41
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    As a native speaker, I'd really swap answer 1 and answer 3. "Was liest du morgens?" -> "Ich lese morgens Bücher" / "Wann liest du Bücher"? -> "Ich lese Bücher morgens". First a repetition of the known parts (lesen + morgens) to show that you have understood the question, then the new bit of information, which is in turn easier to process for a listener if not followed by stuff that has to be filtered out again. Question/answer 2 do actually use this pattern and fit much better! – Annatar Feb 15 at 8:41

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