Today, we're doing to learn all about "hin" and "her" and how to use them in everyday conversations. These "adverbs of direction" will help you speak and sound more like a native German! Cool right?

Are you ready? Let’s dive in!


What Do HIN And HER Mean In German?

Difference To The Adverbs Of Place

First of all, "hin" and "her" imply motion, unlike other words (that we call adverbs) that indicate PLACE. If an adverb indicates a clear place, then we aren't really talking about movement.

Adverbs of place would be, for example: 

  • wo? (where?)
  • hier (here) 
  • dort (there)


What Are The Adverbs Of Direction?

"Hin" and "her" don't just tell us that something (or someone) is moving, they also give us a specific direction. That’s why we call them adverbs of direction

Other adverbs of direction in German are, for example:

  • wohin? (where to?)
  • weg (away)
  • vorwärts / rückwärts (forward / backward)
  • bergauf / bergab (uphill / downhill)

Adverbs of direction imply motion and provide a direction for that movement.


What Are Adverbs?!

“OK: place, motion, direction... but what the heck are adverbs?”

Fair question. 

Adverbs are words that describe or modify other words:

  • verbs,
  • adjectives, or even 
  • other adverbs.

The only type of word adverbs don't describe is nouns - that's what adjectives do. Whenever you want to describe an action in detail, adverbs are there for you.


The Exact Meaning Of HIN And HER

What’s so specific about "hin" and "her"?

"hin" describes movement AWAY FROM the SPEAKER and towards a particular destination. A way of remembering this would be to think of the phrase “let hin go”.

"her" describes movement away from a particular destination TOWARDS the SPEAKER. “I want her, let her come”.

table showing how to remember hin and her in German - adverbs of direction


Are There Any Equivalents To HIN And HER In English?

Before we talk about exactly when you can use "hin" and "her" in German, let’s talk about English. There aren't any close equivalents to "hin" and "her" in English, but we can compare them to “to” and “from”, for example: 

  • Wohin gehst du? (Where are you going TO?)
    Also possible: Wo gehst du hin?
  • Woher kommst du? (Where are you coming FROM?)
    Also possible: Wo kommst du her?


There are many articles on the web about the meaning of "hin" and "her", but this article will specifically concentrate on how to use them, rather than on just a grammar explanation.

Are you ready? Let’s start!


How Do We Use HIN And HER In German?

"Hin" and "her" can be combined with other words and can show, emphasize or repeat their direction. 

Sometimes you’ll see words with "hin" or "her" attached to them at beginning or the end. There’s no need to panic; they still do the same thing. It has to do with the speaker, the movement and the destination. Let's look at a few examples:

  • Gehst du dort hinein? (Are you going in there?) 
  • Woher kommst du? (Where are you from?)
  • Sie möchte hingehen. (She wants to go [there].)

"Hin" and "her" can be combined with some prepositions, other adverbs and verbs

Easy, right? Let’s take a closer look and see what it looks like in detail:


With Adverbs: Woher Kommst Du? (Where Do You Come From?)

Practically as soon as you start learning German, you’ll start using "hin" and "her". 

For example, when you learn to introduce yourself as a total beginner (A1 level), you'll learn how to say where you're from, and how to ask other people where they are from.

tutor teaching two students hin and her in German

Woher kommst du?

(Where do you come from?)


Then, as you continue learning, you’ll be asked (or you’ll ask somebody):

  • Wohin gehst du? (Where are you going?) - Ich gehe in die Stadt. (I’m going to the city.)


In the above examples "hin" and "her" were linked to the question Wo? (where?) and "wo" is a position adverb (as explained at the beginning of this article).

So, we started with wo (where) and added her/hin:

  • wo (where): Wo bist du? (Where are you?)
  • wo (where) + her = woher: Woher kommst du? (Where are you from?) 
  • wo (where) + hin = wohin: Wohin gehst du? (Where are you going to?)


There are also other position adverbs that can be combined with hin/her to indicate the direction to/from the speaker and so they become direction adverbs like:

hier (here)

  • hier (here): Sie wohnt hier(She lives here.)
  • hier (here) + her = hierher: Sie kommt hierher. (She’s coming here. [toward the speaker]) 
  • hier (here) + hin = hierhin: Er geht hierhin. (He's going over here. [away from the speaker]) 


dort (there)

  • dort (there): er stand dort an der Ecke (He was standing there on the corner.)
  • dort (there) + hin = dorthin: Wir fahren dorthin. (We’re going there. [away from the speaker])
  • dort (there) + her = dorther: Sie kommt dorther. (She comes from there. [toward the speaker])


überall (everywhere)

  • überall (everywhere): Er ist überall beliebt. (He is popular everywhere.)
  • überall (everywhere) + hin = überallhin: Sie geht überallhin. (She goes everywhere. [away from the speaker])
  • überall (everywhere) + her = überallher: Er kommt überallher. (He is from everywhere. [toward the speaker])


German has separate words for position (hier, dort, überall) and direction (hierher, dorthin, überallhin). 

Do you see what happened there?

When we combine "hin" and "her" with adverbs of place, they transform themselves into adverbs of direction.

With Verbs: Komm Her! (Come Here!)

As you advance more in learning German, you’ll notice that "hin" and "her" can be used to describe some interesting scenes, as in this example:

  • Er lief hinter ihr her. (He ran after her.) <3


Sorry, guys, the same example could apply to girls too: 

  • Sie lief hinter ihm her. (She ran after him.)


That’s love right there! 🙂

In the above examples, "her" works like a separable prefix to the verb laufen (herlaufen). That means sometimes it’s placed at the end of the sentence and sometimes it’s glued to the verb

The same logic applies to these examples:

herkommen: If you’re standing somewhere and ask somebody to come to you, you could say:

  • Komm her! (Come here!)
girl saying come here

Komm her!

(Come here!)

hinschauen

  • Wenn man genau hinschaut, sieht man den Fehler. (If you look closely, you’ll see the error. [away from the speaker])


herschauen: If you want someone to see what you have, you can say:

  • Schau mal her, sieh was ich habe! (Look, see what I have! [toward the speaker])


sich hersetzen: If you’re asking someone to come and join you at your table, you could say:

  • Komm, setz dich her (zu mir)! (Come, sit down [with me]!) 


sich hinsetzen: When a mother is angry at her kid, she could say something like:

  • Jetzt ist Schluss! Setz dich hin! (That is it! Sit down! [away from the speaker])


As we can see, "hin" and "her" can be used as separable prefixes for many verbs in German.


Hin And Her With Prepositions

Kommen Sie bitte herein! (Please come in!)

Hin and her can also be linked to prepositions (words like in, an, and auf) to give us more detail, or even to change the meaning of the verb in the sentence.

For example:

her + unter + springen herunterspringen:

  • Das Kind sprang vom Baum herunter. (The child jumped down from the tree.)


Let’s take a closer look at that sentence!

In this example, we made the verb springen (to jump) more specific with the preposition unter (under). But there's more. "her" also implies that the speaker's perspective is from under the tree.

There are also many other examples:

hin + aus + sehen  hinaussehen:

  • Er sah aus dem Fenster hinaus. (He looked out the window.)


hin + auf + steigen  hinaufsteigen

  • Wir stiegen die Treppe hinauf. (We climbed up the stairs.)


hin + über + sehen hinübersehen

  • Er sah lange zu ihr hinüber. (He looked over at her for a long time.)


hin + ein* + gehen hineingehen:

  • Sie ging in das Haus hinein. (She walked into the house.)


her + ein* + kommen  hereinkommen:

  • Kommen Sie bitte herein! (Please come in!)


*The word “ein” is not a preposition in modern German. In this case it comes from the preposition “in”, which was in use in the older version of this verb.


HIN And HER Abbreviations

In spoken German, you’ll often hear short versions of herunter, hinaus, hinauf, herein, etc.

It looks like this:

  • hinausheraus raus
  • hineinherein rein
  • hinaufherauf rauf
  • hinunterherunter → runter
  • hinüberherüber → rüber


In this case, "hin" and "her" just transform themselves to one single letter “r”, which is very convenient, right? It doesn't even matter any more if it is "her" or "hin", both versions sound the same. They keep their two different meanings, however (to/away from the speaker) depending on the verb and the context. 

Here is a visual presentation of these words and their meanings:

Since we're talking about "hin" and "her" in different kinds of sentences, here are some nice example sentences that you could start using right away:

herein  rein - If you’re inside and you hear “knock, knock” on the door, you can say: 

  • Komm rein! Die Tür ist offen. (Come in! The door is open.) 


hinein rein - If you want to go inside from outside, you’ll simply say:

  • Gehen wir rein. Es wird kühl. (Let's go inside. It’s getting a little cold.)


heraus  raus - If you want to leave the house, you can say:

  • Ich gehe raus. (I’m going outside.)


hinaus raus - If someone is waiting for you outside, you can say: 

  • Warte einen Moment! Ich komme raus. (Wait a moment! I’m coming out.)  


herauf rauf - If you’re on the second floor of your house and someone is downstairs, you could say: 

  • Komm rauf! (Come up!)


hinauf  rauf - If you’re on the first floor and want to go upstairs, you’ll say:

  • Ich komme rauf. (I’m coming up.)


herunter  runter - When a child climbs to a tree, the mother could say: 

  • Komm runter! (Come down!)


hinunter  runter - And the child could answer:

  • Ich komme runter. (I’m coming down.)


herüber rüber - A neighbor who is making some food in the garden could tell you over the fence: 

  • Komm rüber! (Come over!)


hinüber  rüber - And you could accept neighbor’s invitation with these words:

  • Ich komme rüber. (I’m coming over.)


Special Meanings Of HIN And HER In German

Sometimes "hin" and "her" can have nice special meanings:

1. "hin" often suggests the meaning “down” like in the verb sich hinlegen:

  • Er war müde und legte sich hin. (He was tired and decided to lie down.)


2. "her" can mean “ago”:

  • Das ist schon lange her. (That was a long time ago.)


3. "vor sich hin" means “to oneself”:

  • Er murmelte etwas vor sich hin. (He murmured something to himself.)


4. Hin und wieder means “sometimes”, “every now and then”:

  • Hin und wieder bekommen wir einen Brief von ihm. (We get a letter from him every now and then.)


Congratulations, you've made it! That's all you need to know about using hin and her in German! If you're ready to test your knowledge, make sure to check out the exercises below.


Exercises: HIN and HER in German

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  • Mikal Grüber says:

    In the section about special meanings of him and her, you should have, in your example, said: he was tired and decided to LIE down not lay down. I understand that the German hinlegen Sich means “to lay yourself down,” but in the English version, Lie is an intransitive verb. I don’t know if English is your native language or not, but it is a common mistake even native English speakers frequently make. Otherwise, great job on the tutorial.

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