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I found this in the "Richtungen: nach dem Weg fragen" course. "An" is two case prepositions right and here we are using orientation so the question is "wohin" and not "wo" so it should be AKKUSATIV and not DATIV.

Anyone can explain to me why it's DATIV in this case? I was thinking it's because of the indirect "nach" (dativ preposition) after Ampel; is it the case or not?

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    Could you explain a bit more why, from your perspective, "an die Ampel link" would make (more) sense? I have trouble following your thinking that lead you to "an die ampel link". The question is really hard to understand as it is.
    – HalvarF
    Jul 25, 2022 at 17:18
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    You'll get a better reception here if you're careful about capitalizing nouns. So it's "Ampel", not "ampel". Also, it helps to give full context, at least an entire sentence. Short phrases can have different interpretations, and it's hard to tell if a phrase is correct, or what the correct version would be, if that's all you're given. Note that "Richtungen" just means "directions", and it's already clear that we're talking about some kind of directions from "Ampel" and "links".
    – RDBury
    Jul 25, 2022 at 17:19
  • im new here and thank you for the advice . i modified it by adding details
    – sara ziada
    Jul 26, 2022 at 19:02
  • i hope its clear now !
    – sara ziada
    Jul 26, 2022 at 19:03
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    I guess you have a typo in the heading, which confuses a lot. There is "-s" missing in the second occurence of the word "links". Jul 27, 2022 at 16:13

2 Answers 2

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The sentence would probably clearer if we didn't omit the word nach.

Gehen Sie an der Ampel nach links

So once you reach the traffic lights (wo? An der Ampel) you turn/go to the left (wohin? nach links).

We can omit the nach if it is clear that you're giving directions. In this case, it's obvious, since you're asking for directions. Another example would be a GPS system, advising you to turn left, i.e. links abbiegen.

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Here are the translations:

  1. Gehen Sie an die Ampel links.
    Go to the traffic lights (on the) left.
  1. Gehen Sie an der Ampel links.
    Turn left at the traffic lights.

#1 is in accusative case. Accusative case means a direction or a target. So, if you are told to go »an die Ampel« then it means that you should go to the traffic lights and stop there, because the traffic lights are the target of the movement.

#2 is in dative case. Dative case means that an actions happens at a certain place. In this case it means, that you should turn left at the place where the traffic lights are located. The sentence implicitly also contains the information that you should move to the traffic lights first, but this information emerges only from the fact that the traffic lights and the speaker are on different places. The grammar of the sentence does not talk about any directional or targeted movement. It talks about an action that shall be performed at a given place.


Also note that there seem to be regional differences. When you are in Austria, people won't tell to turn left »an der Ampel« (at the traffic lights). In Austria you more likely will hear:

Gehen Sie nach der Ampel nach links.

The first nach means, that you should not turn left exactly where the traffic lights are mounted but immediately after the traffic lights. And the second nach is equivalent to the English "to the" in "to the left". It's not wrong to omit the word nach before links but it sounds better if you use it.

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