Often, German students find it difficult whether they should use “zu Hause” or “nach Hause” in German. After reading this article, you will know which one to choose the next time you will need it.
The confusion with “zu” or “nach”
The reason why so many students mix up with them both is that they only differ in the two words “zu” and “nach”. Now, the meaning of both prepositions can be “to” in the sense of direction, but “zu” can also mean “at,” and this is the critical point because while one can still go home, it can also be that one already arrived and does something at home. Obviously it makes a huge difference which one you choose.
In German, we use “nach Hause” when we would like to say that something is moving to its home. It might be confusing, that the word “Haus,” which usually represents a house in general, gets an “e” at the end. You can remember that if you simply think about the fact that your home is not just a simple house. Also, many other languages use a particular version of house to express home.
- “Ich gehe nach Hause.” – “I walk home.”
- “Wir fahren mit dem Auto nach Hause.” – “We’re going home by car.”
After you went home, you are situated at home. To express this in German, you need to use “zu Hause” which you can also write this way “zuhause“. An alternative to say the same is by using “daheim”.
- “Ich bleibe heute zu Hause / zuhause / daheim.” – “I stay at home today.”
- “Er hat sein Handy zu Hause / zuhause /daheim vergessen.” – “He forgot his cell phone at home.”
Be aware of what you want to say
Now, as you can easily understand, it does make a difference what you want to say and which one you choose. A typical mistake is, for instance: “Ich gehe zu Hause.” which means “I walk at home.” However, most of the time, people want to express that they walk home, and since they are using the wrong version, they send a completely different message.
In case you are having trouble to differentiate the two, try to remember the meaning of one of them so you can work with the procedure of exclusion. This way, you avoid mixing them up.
If you wish to clarify another phenomenon, check out the article “How to have fun in German“.
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