The difference between “im”, “am” and “um” in German

The difference between “im”, “am” and “um” in German

Many students struggle when it comes to prepositions in German, and this is especially true when it comes to “im,” “am,” and “um.” This article finally clarifies when you should use which of these prepositions. 

German prepositions

Personally, I believe that choosing the right prepositions in any foreign language is the supreme discipline. The reason for this is that one can study the rules of the German cases or how to form sentences properly, but when speaking freely, finding the proper preposition often interferes with the prepositions your first language uses. Nevertheless, there are some rules when it comes to “im,” “am,” and “um,” which will be explained in the following.  

When to use “im”

“Im” is a merger of “in” + “dem,” which means that it uses the Dative case. Germans use “im” if they would like to express “inside of.” In terms of fixes prepositions, you use “im” in German to talk about the year’s seasons or the months.

Seasons:

  • im Winter – in winter
  • im Frühling – in spring
  • im Sommer – in summer
  • im Herbst – in autumn 

Months:

  • im Januar
  • im Februar
  • im März
  • im April
  • im Mai
  • im Juni
  • im Juli
  • im August
  • im September
  • im Oktober
  • im November
  • im Dezember

 

When to use “am”

Like “im”, also “am” is a merger of “an” + “dem”. In German, you will always have to use “am” if you refer to a specific day, times of the day, or date.

Days:

  • am Montag
  • am Dienstag
  • am Mittwoch
  • am Donnerstag
  • am Freitag
  • am Samstag
  • am Sonntag
  • am Wochenende

Times of the day:

  • am Morgen
  • am Vormittag
  • am Mittag
  • am Nachmittag
  • am Abend

BUT: in der Nacht (!)

Date:

  • am 3. Dezember
  • am 12. Januar

 

When to use “um”

You will always have to use “um” if you wish to talk about times in German.

  • um 8 Uhr
  • um 9.30 Uhr
  • um 23:00 Uhr

 

Fixed prepositions in German

I hope that this article made it clear that though it might be difficult to choose the correct preposition, you can at least study the existing rules to make speaking German easier for you. If you would like to know more about this topic, you should check out how to find the right preposition in German.  

 

Bis bald!

Steffie


Hi there! Though I provide all blog content for free, your support will be very much appreciated. 🙂 

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