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On page 62 of Die Duden Grammatik, it says:

Während der Dativ, wenn er eine Opposition zum Akkusativ bildet, für die Bezeichnung der Ruhelage verwendet wird, kennzeichnen einige Präpositionen, die nur den Dativ regieren, auffälligerweise Richtungsangaben. Solche Richtungspräpositionen mit Dativrektion sind: nach, zu, von, aus, ab

My personal understanding of this sentence is:

Although the dative often conveys the "static position" in the case of wechselpräpositionen (for example, "in die Schule" means you are going to the school, "in der Schule" means you are sitting in the school), there are certain prepositions that always take the dative and convey directions; for example, "von".

My question is, does "von" really always convey "directionality"? For example, "ein Freund von mir". Or do I misunderstand the sentence; "von" always takes the dative, and it sometimes but not always conveys directions, yet it never conveys "static location"?

Is that it?

Thank you

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  • "Ich hab' das von ihm bekommen", "Ich kam von der Schule nach Hause" -> direction
    – tofro
    Sep 14, 2022 at 9:48

2 Answers 2

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The context isn't entirely clear here, but it appears that they're discussing the difference between two-way prepositions (e.g. in, auf, vor) and dative-only prepositions (e.g. nach, aus, von). It does seem rather, let's say "ironic", that if you want to say "into" then you use in + accusative, but if you want to say the opposite, "out of", then you use aus + dative. In other words even though the "movement rule" applies to two-way prepositions, it does not apply to other prepositions. The paragraph is simply stating this and listing some some "conspicuous" ("auffällig") examples. The reason von is listed is because it can imply movement, it's not saying it must imply movement. Of course with enough imagination you can construe a meaning of von to mean movement in some sense, I don't think it would be helpful for learners to try to do that though.

In any case, you should keep in mind that Duden is intended as a resource for people who already speak German; it's not meant to teach learners the fundamentals of German grammar. There are much more appropriate resources available, and using Duden as a learner may cause more confusion than enlightenment (as in this case).

PS. Don't forget to accept an answer. I'm not saying you have to if you don't find any of the answers useful, but if you do, and the fact that you continue to post questions here seems to imply that, then it's polite to acknowledge it by accepting the most useful one. I'm only mentioning this because it appears that you've never accepted an answer to any of the question you've posted.

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As you see in DWDS, von has quite a list of meanings and the spatial is only one of many. Ein Freund von mir falls into category V, allgemeine Beziehung (general relation) of the DWDS list. (Actually it is one of the given examples in given DWDS page under category V, section 1a.)

(I find the Duden grammar explanation quite hard to understand and won't dare to propose an intended meaning.)

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  • I would argue that even the "general relation" meaning can be understood as being based on directionality (or here: origin). Compare the common use of "Wo kommst du her" for asking for belonging (e.g. what family are you from, whose child are you, etc.) "Das ist der Freund von Hans" would then indicate a similar kind of origin. Sep 14, 2022 at 10:38

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