Am vs bei



When should you use “am” and when should you use “bei?


an is a contraction of an dem.
 is covered in this video about prepositions.

bei has multiple uses and so is pretty complicated, see:


Hallo RexV und sfpugh,

Thanks for those extra resources sfpugh!

This is a good question RexV, and it has a somewhat complex answer.

To break it down a bit:

Am is an + demAn can be used as "on" or "at." Note that am is when an is used with the dative (together with a masculine or neuter noun), but an can also be used with the accusative. (For a refresher on the differences between those two cases, you can check out Module 6 of Level 1.) When used with the dative, an can be used to talk about things that are stationary (e.g. Ich bin am Hauptbahnhof "I am at the train station") in specific locations. You can also use am in the sense of "on" when talking about days (e.g. am Samstag "on Saturday").

Bei can be translated as  "at," "during," "near" and "with," and is always followed by the dative - which is why you will also see bei combined with dem to form beim. You can use bei to talk about current possession (e.g. Meine Katze is bei meinem Bruder "My cat is with my brother") or to talk about being at someone's house (e.g. Meine Katze is bei meinem Bruder may also be "My cat is at my brother's house").  When paired with a noun that describes an event or period of time, bei can also be used to talk about time duration (e.g. Beim Essen reden wir "During mealtimes we talk").

Some differences between the two:

- When used in the sense of "at," bei is often used with people in a way that an can't be - so you can say Ich bin beim Arzt "I am at the doctor's," but you can't say "Ich bin am Arzt."

- When describing proximity to objects, an generally implies close proximity or direct contact, while bei is more like "near." For example, if you say Ich bin am Tisch you would be saying "I am at the table" (i.e. sitting at it, ready to eat), and if you say Ich bin beim Tisch you would be saying "I am near the table" (i.e. not sitting at it, just nearby).

This is not an exhaustive explanation, but it will hopefully help to round out a general idea of the differences between the two prepositions. This sort of difference is something that you will become more comfortable with as you learn more German phrases, or as you memorize which prepositions follow which verbs.

I hope that this helped!

Bis zum nächsten Mal,


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