Why Use Prepositions With Adjectives?

Let’s take a look today at how to manage adjectives with prepositions.

Before we do that, though, make sure to watch Anja’s video about prepositions. It’s a nice, quick refresher on what they are and what they do.


In German, some adjectives tend to go with specific prepositions. It shows how the adjective relates to an object. Unfortunately, there aren’t any clear rules to help us work out exactly which prepositions to use with which adjectives.

The only solution, as usual, is to learn them all individually.

Meme of young child writing something down with a surprised face, illustrating the studying of German adjectives plus prepositions

Adjective + Preposition—I'll write that down.

Don’t worry, once you’ve gone over a phrase a few times, it’ll have a way of rolling off your tongue without you thinking too hard about it later. There's nothing like practice! So, let's get started:


10 Prepositions With 30 Adjectives

Alright, here are 30 of the most common adjectives with the 10 prepositions they are mostly used with. We have listed the ten prepositions in alphabetical order, and put three adjectives with examples each.

Ready? Steady? Let's go!

1. an 

  • schuld (guilty) + an + Dative – Gogo ist an allem schuld. (It's all Gogo's fault. Literally: Gogo is guilty of everything.)
  • interessiert (interested) + an + Dative – Katie ist an einem neuen Job interessiert. (Katie is interested in a new job.)
  • reich (rich) + an + Dative – Die Stadt ist reich an Geschichte. (The city is rich in history.)


→ You can see that in the examples above the combination of adjectives + "an" are followed by the Dative case. You might remember that "an" is one of the two-way prepositions, and can go with either Dative or Accusative. A little further down the post, we will explain how to tell which case to use with prepositions and how to check adjectives and prepositions in a dictionary.

2. auf 

  • gespannt (expectant, curious) + auf + Accusative – Bobbi ist auf den Film gespannt. (Bobbi is looking forward to the movie.)
  • vorbereitet (prepared) + auf + Accusative – Katie ist auf den Test vorbereitet. (Katie is prepared for the test.)
  • stolz (proud) + auf + Accusative – Gogo ist stolz auf sich. (Gogo is proud of himself.)


→ You can see that in the examples above the combination of adjectives + "auf" are followed by the Accusative case. Generally, "auf" like "an" is one of the two-way prepositions, and can go with either Dative or Accusative.


3. bei

  • beliebt (well-liked) + bei + Dative – Sie ist bei allen beliebt. (She's well-liked by everyone.)
  • eingestellt (hired) + bei + Dative – Bobbi wurde bei einem großen Konzern eingestellt. (Bobbi was hired at a big corporation.)
  • behilflich (helpful) + bei + Dative – Der Junge war uns beim Putzen behilflich. (The boy helped us with the cleaning. Literally: The boy was helpful to us with the cleaning.)


→ You can see that in all the examples above the combination of adjectives + "bei" are followed by the Dative case. That one is easy to remember because "bei" always takes the Dative case.


4. für

  • verantwortlich (responsible) + für + Accusative – Der CEO ist bei der Arbeit für alles verantwortlich. (The CEO is responsible for everything at work.)
  • dankbar (grateful) + für + Accusative – Sie ist dankbar für das Geschenk. (She's grateful for the gift.)
  • schädlich (harmful) + für + Accusative – Schokolade ist schädlich für Hunde. (Chocolate is harmful for dogs.)


→ That one is also easy to remember because "für" always takes the Accusative case.


5. in

  • verliebt (in love) + in + Accusative – Er ist in das Mädchen verliebt. (He's in love with the girl.)
  • gut (good) + in + Dative – Sie ist gut in Mathe. (She's good at math.)
  • erfahren (experienced) + in + Dative – Sie ist in diesem Beruf sehr erfahren. (She is very experienced in this profession.)


→ The preposition "in"—like "an" and "auf" further up in this post—is one of the so-called two-way prepositions ("Wechselpräpositionen"), which means it can be followed by either the Accusative case (see the example "verliebt in") or the Dative case (see the latter two examples). 


6. mit 

  • verabredet (arranged to meet) + mit + Dative – Er ist mit ihr verabredet. (He arranged to meet with her. Or: He has a date with her.)
  • beschäftigt (busy) + mit + Dative – Bobbi ist mit seinem Auto beschäftigt. (Bobbi is busy with his car.)
  • fertig (done) + mit + Dative – Bald ist er fertig mit der Reparatur. (Soon he will be done with the repairs.)


→ The preposition "mit" is again easy to remember because "mit" always takes the Dative case.


7. nach

  • hungrig (hungry) + nach + Dative – Katie ist hungrig nach Pizza. (Katie is hungry for Pizza.)
  • verrückt (crazy) + nach + Dative – Das Kind ist verrückt nach Zucker. (The child is crazy for sugar.)
  • süchtig (hooked) + nach + Dative – Gogo ist nach dunkler Schokolade süchtig. (Gogo's hooked on dark chocolate.)


→ The preposition "nach" like "mit" is again easy to remember because "nach" always takes the Dative case.


8. von

  • begeistert (thrilled) + von + Dative – Katie ist von dem Essen begeistert. (Katie is thrilled about the meal.)
  • überzeugt (convinced) + von + Dative – Bobbi ist von dem Argument nicht überzeugt. (Bobbi is not convinced by the argument.)
  • abhängig (dependent) + von + Dative – Meinungen sind abhängig vom Geschmack. (Opinions are dependent on taste.)


→ The preposition "von" like "mit" and "nach" is another easy one because "von" always takes the Dative case.
Remember that some prepositions form a union with articles? When we use "von" + "dem" (definite article for singular masculine and neuter nouns in the Dative case), we usually join them: von + dem = vom.


9. über

  • aufgeregt (excited) + über + Accusative – Sie ist über ihre Hochzeit aufgeregt. (She is excited about her wedding.)
  • froh (glad) + über + Accusative – Er ist froh über das schöne Wetter heute. (He is glad about the beautiful weather today.)
  • empört (outraged) + über + Accusative – Die alte Dame ist empört über die jungen Leute. (The old lady is outraged by the young people.)


→ The preposition "über"—like others further up in this post—is another one of the so-called two-way prepositions ("Wechselpräpositionen"), which means it can be followed by either the Accusative case (like in all the given examples) or the Dative case. 


10. zu

  • freundlich (friendly) + zu + Dative – Gogo ist immer freundlich zu allen. (Gogo is always friendly to everyone.)
  • nett (nice) + zu + Dative – Die Lehrerin ist nett zu ihren Schülern. (The teacher is nice to her students.)
  • fähig (capable) + zu + Dative – Der alte Kater ist zu keiner Tat mehr fähig. (The old cat is no longer capable of anything. Literally: ... of any deed.)


→ Last but not least, the preposition "zu" like others further up is another easy one because "zu" always takes the Dative case.

image of a cat falling asleep, illustrating the use of the combo adjective plus preposition, German "fähig zu" (English capable of), followed by the German Dative case

Leute, ich bin zu nichts mehr fähig.
Guys, I'm no longer capable of anything.


How To Tell Which Case To Use With Prepositions

Now, if you were reading closely, you might have noticed the use of different colors with all of the above examples. Did you see them? 

Of course you did! It’s about the cases. The combination of an adjectives plus a preposition is usually followed by an object. And the object can either be in the Dative, or in the Accusative case.

  • Er ist in das Mädchen verliebt. (He is in love with the girl.)
  • Katie ist an einem neuen Job interessiert. (Katie is interested in a new job.)
  • Gogo ist immer freundlich zu allen. (Gogo is always friendly to everyone.)


→ The combo "verliebt in" (in love with) is followed by the Accusative case, whereas "interessiert an" (interested in) as well as "freundlich zu" (friendly to) are followed by the Dative case.

So, how do we decide which cases to use when? 

choosing between accusative and dative in German

Accusative or Dative?

The cases are actually determined by the prepositions that are attached to the adjectives. For that, we can just look at our nice chart about prepositions and their cases here. You have already come across them in our posts on the Accusative case  and the Dative case.

overview of prepositions followed by the German Accusative case, the Dative case, and the Two-Way Prepositions

First things first. No matter what adjective we use:

The following prepositions are always followed by the Accusative case:

  • durch, ohne, gegen, für, um, bis – through, without, against, for, around, until


These prepositions are always followed by the Dative case:

  • ab, aus, außer, bei, gegenüber, mit, nach, seit, von, zu – from...on, from, except, at, across, with, after, since, by, to

Of course, that leaves us with the “Wechselpräpositionen” (two-way prepositions) in the middle of the chart. Here, we have to learn which case we need to use to give us the right meaning.

With these, changing the case can give us a very different (and sometimes silly 🙈) meaning. For example:

  • Katie ist über ihr Auto genervt. (Katie is annoyed about her car.)
  • 🙈 Katie ist über ihrem Auto genervt. (Katie is annoyed above her car.) 🙈


→ See, what I mean? The latter example is kind of silly: Can you see her floating above her car being annoyed?

  • Sie ist in das alte Haus verliebt. (She is in love with the old house.)
  • 🙈 Sie ist in dem alten Haus verliebt. (She is in love inside the old house.) 🙈


→ If you learnt that "verliebt in" is followed by the Accusative case, you won't make the mistake to use it with the Dative and change its meaning.

In case you want to master the prepositions for Dative and Accusative case, we've got you covered.

Adjectives And Prepositions In A Dictionary

In case of doubt, you can rely on a dictionary entry. It will show something like this:

Remember what jdm stands for? Right, it’s the abbreviation for "jemandem", which is usually translated with “to/from somebody”.

→ Here, it indicates that the adjective and preposition "verrückt nach" are followed by the Dative case. You can spot it right away by the ending -m in "jdm", which is simply the Dative form of "jemand" (somebody).

Accordingly, jdn is short for "jemanden".

→ Here, it indicates that the adjective and preposition "verliebt in" are followed by the Accusative case. Check the ending -n in "jdn", which is simply the Accusative form of "jemand" (somebody).

Last, but not least, etw is short for "etwas". Let me give you an example with the adjective and preposition we were just looking at:

  • Gogo ist in seinen neuen Wagen verliebt. (Gogo is infatuated by his new car.)

Well, in this example the object in Accusative case is simply not a person but a thing–something ("etwas").


And now, as usual, it's time to test your knowledge in our little quiz.

Short Quiz: Adjectives And Prepositions

Lastly, keep in mind that we don’t only use the 10 prepositions that we covered here today – they’re just the most common prepositions that we use with adjectives. 

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Related posts

  • In English you would say “Bobbi is excited ABOUT the movie.” You would use FOR when referring to a person.

    • Thank you, Louis! We corrected it 🙂

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