German Adverbs of Place


Adverbs are words that we use to include additional information or to modify a verb, an adjective, or another adverb. Locative adverbs, or adverbs of place and direction, will help us to talk about a location or a specific movement from or to a location.  These adverbs will answer the question, Where? Wo?. They will point out a specific location.

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Adverbs help us explain the circumstances at whicha verb is done, but they can also be used to describe other adverbs and adjectives. In German, we differentiate between adverbs of place (Lokaladverbien), adverbs of time and frequency (Temporaladverbien), adverbs of cause (Kausaladverbien), and adverbs of manner (Modaladverbien). 

Adverbs of place are used to demonstrate how where something is done. The same way that prepositions of place do, adverbs of place answer to the questions “Wo? Woher? Wohin?” (Where? Where to? Where from?), but unlike prepositions, adverbs do not modify nouns, so we do not need to worry about gender or case. Adverbs modify verbs (or adjectives and other adverbs). 

Adverbs can be placed at the very beginning of the sentence for emphasis, but remember that putting something other than the subject in position one will create inverted word oder. In the middle of a sentence, adverbs are typically placed behind the verb, before the direct object, and after the indirect object. If will also precede prepositional phrases. If different kinds of adverbs appear in one sentence, we usually put adverbs of frequency first, then adverbs of manner/cause, and lastly, adverbs of place.

Unsere Sitzplätze sind hinten.
 Our seats are in the back. 
Wir kommen oft hierher. We often come here. 

Notice how in the second example, the adverb of frequency “oft” preceded the adverb of place “hierher”. Below are some examples of common adverbs of place. 

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Wo? Wohin? Woher? 

It is important to keep in mind that adverbs to not modify nouns, so we will not have to deal with genders and cases. Adverbs modify verbs. However, they can answer the same three “where” questions as prepositions of place, and that will, in fact, require some modifucation of adverb.

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Wo spielen die Kinder? Die Kinder spielen draussen. (I cannot say “raus” here.)
Where do the kids play? The kids play outside. 
Wohin gehst du? Ich gehe raus. 
Where are you going? I’m going outside. 
Woher kommen die Ameisen? Die Ameisen kommen von draussen. 
Where are the ants coming from? The ants are coming from outside. 

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Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

The CEFR is an international standard used to describe language ability. Here are specific details of the CEFR for this topic.

General Explanation:

Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment). Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters. Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.

Specific Capabilities at this Level

I can write short, simple notes and messages relating to matters in areas of immediate needs. I can write a very simple personal letter, for example thanking someone for something.
Spoken Production:
I can use a series of phrases and sentences to describe in simple terms my family and other people, living conditions, my educational background and my present or most recent job.
Spoken Interaction:
I can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar topics and activities. I can handle very short social exchanges, even though I can’t usually understand enough to keep the conversation going myself.
I can read very short, simple texts. I can find specific, predictable information in simple everyday material such as advertisements, prospectuses, menus and timetables and I can understand short simple personal letters.
I can understand phrases and the highest frequency vocabulary related to areas of most immediate personal relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local area, employment). I can catch the main point in short, clear, simple messages and announcements.