Locative Adverbs

What are Locative Adverbs?

Adverbs are words that describe situations - how, what, when, where, or why something happened. They always stay the same - you don't change their endings.

In particular, locative adverbs give information about a location. It makes sense from the name, yeah?

Locative adverbs go with the questions Wo? (Where?), Wohin? (Where to?), Woher? (From Where?)

Should I Use a Preposition or an Adverb?

When answering the questions "Wo?" / "Wohin?" / "Woher?" you can use either a preposition and a noun, or an adverb.

  • Wo ist dein Vater?“   – „Im Keller!“ 
  • Wo ist dein Vater?“   – „Unten!“
  • Wohin geht dein Vater?“   – „In den Keller!“
  • Wohin geht dein Vater?“   – „Nach unten!“
  • Woher kommt dein Vater?“   – „Aus dem Keller!“
  • Woher kommt dein Vater?“   – „Von unten!“

What's the difference between using a preposition and an adverb?

  • Wo ist dein Vater?“   – „Im Keller!“
  • Wo ist dein Vater?“   – „Unten!“

With a preposition + noun combo, we are describing a specific, unchangeable location.

„im Keller“ ⇒  nowhere else

With an adverb, we are describing a non-specific, relative place that depends on the point of view of the speaker

Unten!“ ⇒  It can be anywhere below, not necessarily just in the basement. And if you said the same sentence from a different location, "Unten!" would mean a different location.

Examples of Adverbs with "Wo?"

  • "Draußen regnet es." // Outside it’s raining.
  • "Drinnen ist es schön warm." // Inside it is pretty warm.
  • Papa, da ist Oma!" // Daddy, there is grandma!
  • Überall liegt Müll." // There’s rubbish everywhere.

Other adverbs answering the question "Wo?": rechts, links, oben, unten, drüben, hier, dort, hinten, vorn, irgendwo, innen, außen, nebenan, nirgends,…

Examples of Adverbs with "Wohin?" / "Woher?"

* For info about "hin" / "her", "raus" / "rein", and "rauf"/"runter" look at the explanation in this lesson: The Locative Adverbs Hin and Her.

Summary

  • The questions "Wo?" / "Woher?" / "Wohin?" can be answered with either prepositions or adverbs.
  • Prepositions give you a specific location while adverbs describe a location relative to the position and perspective of the speaker.

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.

Here is a more detailed explanation about the locative adverbs "hin" und "her".

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