Difference Between “Hin” and “Her”

Meaning of "hin" and "her"

The adverb "hin" describes movement away from the speaker.

The adverb "her" describes movement towards the speaker.

We use the questions "woher?" and "wohin?" ask about the direction of movement.

"Woher?" and "wohin?" can be written together or separate.

  • Wohin gehst du?“ – „Wo gehst du hin?“ // Where are you going to?
  • Woher kommst du?“ – „Wo kommst du her?“ // Where are you coming from?

Combining "hin" and "her" with Adverbs

We can combine locative adverbs with "hin" or "her" - this gives us not only the location but also the direction of movement. Is the movement towards the speaker or away from the speaker?

Examples: Dahin, daher, dorthin, dorther, hierhin, hierher

  • „Ich gehe dorthin, wo wir uns das erste Mal getroffen haben.“ 

In this example, "dorthin" emphasizes that I am going there AND that the movement is away from me. For English speakers, this might seem unnecessary and redundant - OF COURSE if I am going there it means I am going in a direction away from me.

This happens quite often with English speakers learning about "hin" and "her" - they ask "Do I have to include this extra information?" In German, you really do need to include this extra information - otherwise it is grammatically incorrect AND sounds unnatural. 

Combining "hin" and "her" with Verbs

"Hin" and "her" are often used as a prefix with separable verbs.

They can be combined with all verbs involving movement, telling you the direction of the movement.

  • Komm bitte her! Ich muss mit dir reden.“ // Come over here! I have to talk to you.
  • Geht bitte irgendwo anders hin! Ich brauche Ruhe!“ // Please go somewhere else. I need quiet.

Combining with a Preposition and a Verb

To give an even more specific direction, "hin" and "her" are often also combined with a preposition. We don't just want to know if we're going towards or away from the speaker, but if we are also up / under / around / etc.

  • „Anna kam ins Haus hinein und ging gleich wieder heraus.“ // Anna came into the house and then we right back out.
  • „Ich will den Berg hinauflaufen und dann wieder herunterlaufen.“ // I want to go up the mountain and then down again.
  • „Du ich kann über die Mauer hinübersehen, aber auch er kann von der anderen Seite herübersehen.“ // I can look over the wall, but he can look over from the other side as well

When combining "hin" and "her" with a preposition (i.e. hinaus, herüber, etc.), you can also say it more quickly and easily by using a shorter version. This can be done when it's standing on its own or being used as a prefix of a separable verb.

raus = hinaus / heraus   rein = hinein / hinaus

rauf = hinauf / herauf   runter = hinunter / herunter

rüber = hinüber / herüber

Using the Combined Versions

raus = hinaus / heraus

  • „Ich gehe (aus dem Haus) raus.“

Similarly so: rauslaufen, rauskommen, rausfahren, rausrennen, rausschwimmen, raustragen, rausschauen …

Adverb raus

rein = hinein / herein

  • „Ich gehe (in das Haus) rein.“

Similarly so: reinlaufen, reinkommen, reinfahren, reinrennen, reintragen, reinschauen, …

 

adverb rein

rauf = hinauf / herauf

  • „Ich gehe auf den Berg rauf.“

Similarly so: rauflaufen, raufkommen, rauffahren, raufrennen, rauftragen, raufklettern,

raufbringen …

Adverb rauf

runter = hinunter / herunter

  • „Ich gehe in den Keller runter.“

Similarly so: runterlaufen, runterkommen, runterfahren, runterrennen, runtertragen,

Adverb runter

rüber = hinüber / herüber

  • „Ich klettere am besten dort über den Zaun rüber.“

Similarly so: rüberlaufen, rüberkommen, rüberfahren, rübertragen, rüberbringen, …

"rüber" can also mean from going from one side to the other in the metaphorical sense.

Summary

  • "Hin" and "her" describe movement in a particular direction - "hin" means movement away from the speaker and "her" means movement towards the speaker.
  • You can combine "hin" and "her" with locative adverbs or verbs.
  • When combining "hin" or "her" with a preposition, it's best to use the contracted form.

Related Topics:

More information about locative adverbs.

To understand the differences between the version with preposition and adverbs, take a look at the section on locative prepositions.

In addition to locative adverbs, there are also temporal adverbs, modal adverbs, causasl adverbs, and conjunctive adverbs.

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