To translate this fragment of dialog, which is taken verbatim from I Asimov's "I, Robot":

“Now where are we?” “Exactly at the explanation."

which preposition is correct, and why?

»An welchen Punkt sind wir jetzt gekommen?« »Wir stehen genau bei der Erläuterung.

»An welchen Punkt sind wir jetzt gekommen?« »Wir stehen genau an der Erläuterung.

Or something else?

  • 1
    I feel the choice of words is unidiomatic in both languages and you would probably word it completely differently. Can you give more context? Commented Dec 1, 2022 at 3:10
  • 1
    @Raketenolli -Yes, on the English side you "arrive at" a conclusion, not "to". Or you can "reach" a conclusion, or simply "conclude" something. These all sound rather formal in spoken English, maybe "So, have we figured anything out yet?" Also, would "Ergebnis" be a better match for this sense of "conclusion"? On the second sentence, you generally "explain" something, not "arrive at" and explanation. The use of "arrive" here is a metaphor that's turned into a figure of speech, but an English speaker would struggle to connect it back to the metaphor and use it with another word.
    – RDBury
    Commented Dec 1, 2022 at 8:50
  • You've just changed the English sentence, but you have not adjusted the translation accordingly.
    – phunsoft
    Commented Dec 1, 2022 at 16:25

2 Answers 2


Now where are we? – Exactly at the explanation.

For the sake of idiomacy, I would translate this according to the meaning rather than literally, for example:

Wo stehen wir jetzt? – Genau am Punkt der Erläuterung.


You may translate that literally. The logic is exactly the same in German.

Wo sind wir jetzt? — Genau bei der Erläuterung.

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    But why is it bei der Erläuterung and not an der Erläuterung?
    – user44591
    Commented Dec 2, 2022 at 14:16
  • Because the phrase ist bei etwas sein if you mean steps to take. The phrase an etwas sein does not exist.The question suggested the phrase to use in the answer.
    – Janka
    Commented Dec 2, 2022 at 14:49
  • Yes, this is exactly the information I was looking for. Thank you.
    – user44591
    Commented Dec 2, 2022 at 16:00
  • @Janka, you wrote "an etwas sein does not exist." This is wrong. Counter example: "Wir sind an der Haltestelle.“ Commented Dec 2, 2022 at 17:43
  • That's not a verb phrase but that expression an der Haltestelle is a locational adverbial. The main problem with the original phrasing is that it's not about a location but instead a fixed phrase that treats a step from a list like a location. But that makes it a phrasal verb: you aren't free in your choice of preposition then.
    – Janka
    Commented Dec 2, 2022 at 19:26

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