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Understanding Basic German Directions

Whether you travel Germany, plan on visiting friends there or even plan on living there, understanding basic words and phrases for directions is important. It helps you finding your way around cities and towns. So, avoid getting lost!

It will make your life easier to learn this simple question:

How do I get to …? = Wie komme ich zum/zur …?

You want to familiarize yourself with some basic vocabulary to understand the answers. Here are some key elements:

1. Learn the cardinal points

North = der Norden

South = der Süden

East = der Osten

West = der Westen

When you come across the intermediate cardinal directions, you want to make of that the German language shortens the first part of the cardinal point like this:

north-east = der Nordosten

south-west = der Südwesten

You’ve probably noticed that the ending -en in ‘Nord’ and ‘Süd’ was eliminated.

German cardinal directions

  2. Learn the basic horizontal directions

By that, we mean basic directions such as:

left = links

right = rechts

straight = gerade aus

ahead / in front = vorn

behind / at the back / rear = hinten

Asking for Directions in German


 3. Learn the Basic Vertical Directions

These are pretty simple since there are only 2 basic words:

up = oben / rauf / nach oben

down = unten / runter / nach unten

The German translation has multiple words depending on whether you express a direction or location.

German Vertical Directions



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  • All Graduates | French Translation Services March 17, 2015, 9:52 PM

    Cardinal points… a must-learn for tourists as directions often come up when looking for a place. Nice pictures and illustrations. They will make it easy to learn how directions are stated in German. Now it’s easier for one to understand if a person wishes them to go “nach rechts” or “nach hinten.” Thanks for sharing your knowledge!