In English and in German, there are some verbs that are used extensively with certain prepositions. In English, these are called "phrasal verbs". Adding a preposition to a verb changes the meaning slightly. For example, the verb "to run". By itself, it means to move swiftly using your legs. But we can also "run into" someone. Someone can "run for" something, or we can "run something by" someone. We have changed the original meaning of the verb "run" simply by adding a preposition.
There are many verbs in German as well that are used with a preposition. For example "warten" (to wait). I can simply "wait", but I can also "wait for" something. (warten auf). In German, we added the preposition "auf" to alter the meaning of the original verb slightly.
These prepositions can be combined with “da(r)” if we wish to refer back to the object of the preposition, without repeating it.
Wartest du auf dein Paket? Ja, ich warte darauf.
Are you waiting for your package? Yes, I am waiting for it.
In the above example, we formed a "da" compound with the preposition "auf" from the phrasal verb "warten auf", to refer back to the package without repeating it. Because the preposition "auf" starts with a vowel, we added the extra "r". If the preposition starts with a consonant, we do not add "r".
Arbeitest du mit Microsoft Word? Ja, ich arbeite damit.
Are you working with Microsoft Word? Yes, I am working with it.
1. When not to use a "da" compound
There are some prepositions that cannot be used with “da”: außer, gegenüber, ohne, & seit". However, Some directional adverbs, such as hin
can be used with “da” as well (e.g. dahin, daher, darein
"Da" compounds also cannot be used to refer back to people or living beings. To shorten an expression where the object is a person, we would use a personal pronoun.
Der Junge geht ohne seinen Hund
spazieren. The boy goes for a walk without his dog.
Der Junge geht ohne ihn
The boy goes for a walk without him.
In the above example we used the preposition "ohne" which cannot be used in a "da"compound. In addtion, "sein Hund" is a living being, so the only way we can shorten the experession is to use the pronoun (here: accusative pronoun for a masculine noun)
2. Common "da" compounds
There are a few "da" compounds that have specific meanings and are frequently used.