Welcher Bus fährt nach/zum Königsplatz?

According to a website, nach is used to reference places of geographical locations or directions. So, my question is: Is Königsplatz not a geographical location because it wants to use "zum" as the correct answer?

  • 1
    @Hubert Schölnast: That question and answers are in German, so not a duplicate since questions should be answered in the language asked.
    – RDBury
    Jul 24 at 19:12
  • 3
    @RDBury: Bevor johnl die Frage editiert hat war sie auf Deutsch. Sie lautete »Könnte nach in diesem Satz benutzen werden?« Siehe german.stackexchange.com/posts/65721/revisions Jul 24 at 20:21
  • @Hubert Schölnast: I see your point. It appears that the body of the question was in English with the title in German, leading to confusion all around. I was basically just trying to remind people that, at least according to custom here, it's not a duplicate question if it's in a different language. I think some people hit "close" without considering such factors.
    – RDBury
    Jul 25 at 7:31
  • 1
    @RDBury: Da erhebt sich die Frage, als in welcher Sprache man eine Frage als gestellt ansehen soll, wenn der Titel vollständig auf Deutsch verfasst wurde und der Körper Anteile in Deutsch und Englisch enthält. Das hat auch Auswirkungen auf die Frage, ob Johnls Veränderung überhaupt zulässig war. Jul 25 at 7:42
  • 1
    Reasonable minds can differ, I suppose, but the German title was rather undescriptive and the question in the body was clearly in English, so I figured it would make sense (by the principle of least astonishment, if you will) to not only expand the title, but also tailor it to the language of the body. So that, if you don't speak English, you don't have to click on the link as you won't understand what's there. I understand you could argue that there's value in preserving the bilinguality of the question, though, but that was the idea. You may feel free to retranslate it, of course.
    – johnl
    Jul 25 at 9:36

For starters, the names of streets, squares, roads etc. are always definite in German, so that's how you can tell that something like nach Königsplatz can't be correct - this is also why it's zum Königsplatz (contraction of zu dem Königsplatz) rather than just zu Königsplatz.

There is no direct German equivalent to English "to". Directional prepositions in German are complex and generalisations like the one you came across are no help at all, I'm afraid. RDBury's answer covered some of this, but here's a comprehensive set of examples:

Street names

  • Wir gehen zum Königsplatz. (We're travelling to Königsplatz.)
  • Wir gehen auf den Königsplatz. (We're stepping onto Königsplatz.)
  • Wir gehen zur Schillerstraße. (We're going to Schillerstraße.)
  • Wir fahren in die Schillerstraße. (We're entering Schillerstraße.)

Cities and neighbourhoods

  • Wir fahren nach Berlin. (We're going to Berlin.)
  • Wir fahren auf den Prenzlauer Berg. (We're going to Prenzlauer Berg [a neighbourhood in Berlin].)
  • Wir fahren nach Köln. (We're going to Cologne.)
  • Wir fahren zum Eifeltor. (We're going to Eifeltor [a neighbourhood in Cologne].)


  • Wir fahren nach Italien. (We're going to Italy.)
  • Wir fahren in die Schweiz. (We're going to Switzerland.)
  • Wir fliegen auf die Seychellen. (We're flying to the Seychelles.)
  • What does "are always definite" mean?
    – c.p.
    Jul 25 at 6:40
  • There is a remote possibility that if you consider the "Königsplatz" an abstract target instead of the concrete square "nach" is used (The tramway in Bonn, as an example, does exactly that: "Strassenbahn nach Bertha-von-Suttner-Platz")
    – tofro
    Jul 25 at 9:15
  • @c.p. Google "definiteness". The expression "the tree"/"der Baum" is definite, while "tree/Baum" on its own is indefinite, as is "a tree/ein Baum". English has some definite placenames ("the Scottish Highlands", "the Gambia"), but German has loads of them, e.g. "die Schweiz" (Switzerland), and pretty much any street/road/square, so while English has "Piccadilly Square" rather than "the Piccadilly Square", German has "der Alexanderplatz" rather than just "Alexanderplatz". Jul 25 at 10:43
  • Thanks for the suggestion, I don't feel like googlling anything. I just don't agree that definiteness is a criterion here. You wrote (correctly) Wir fahren nach Italien and Italien is also, according to your idea, definite (there is no, excepting abstractions, ein Italien) but it has no article.
    – c.p.
    Jul 25 at 13:42
  • @tofro Indeed -- in this case it refers to the tram stop named after the square, not the square itself. Jul 26 at 10:40

In general, use nach for larger geographical locations: countries, states, cities. (There are exceptions to this though, for instance use in for countries which use an article.) Since you're talking about a bus, which is presumably going to drop you off somewhere near Königsplatz and not actually "inside", you'd probably use zu. If you were already nearby and were talking about actually entering Königsplatz, then I'm guessing you'd use auf. Certain open areas such as a Platz prefer auf, though some (such as a Park) prefer in.

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