auf vs nach

Peter--252

I'm up to Unit 10.2 at the moment and a question occurred to me (although it has probably come up before)...

We have "nach Deutschland / nach Berlin" meaning "to Germany / to Berlin", but
"auf den Campingplatz" = "to the campsite".

Are "auf" & "nach" interchangeable when meaning "to (a place)", or do we use "nach" for place names, or is there another distinction?

Peter
 

Paul-Weber

Hi Peter,

Unfortunately the prepositions 'auf' and 'nach' are mostly not interchangeable but sometimes can be used together. 
"Auf nach Frankreich!"= "Off to France!"

"Nach" is used for places and countries when they are named. Exceptions are all waters like rivers and lakes. 
Examples:
"Ich will nach Zypern gelangen!" ="I want to get to Cyprus!"
"Ich will auf die Insel gelangen!" ="I want to get on the island!" 

"Ich will nach Paris gehen!" = "I want to go to Paris!"
"Ich will in die Stadt gehen!" = "I want to go into the city."
 
"Ich will zur Donau gehen!" = "I want to go the Donau!" (River in Europe)
"Ich will zu dem Fluss gehen!" = "I want to go the river!"

So you'll say in German "ich will auf den Campingplatz gehen" which is "I want to go onto the camping ground" but never "ich will nach den Campingplatz gehen".

In English it seems the word "to" is a lot in use translating into a lot of prepositions used in German and so to fit the cliché, in this case the German language is perhaps more precious. 

I hope it is not too confusing for you and if you have any questions please let me know.

Lieben Gruß
Paul
 

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