Bei is part of the prepositions called two-way prepositions such as an and op. These prepositions will take on either
- the accusative case if they can answer the question wouhin – where to an action or object is going to (direction, movement); or
- the dative case, if they describe wou – where the action is taking place (location, situation).
These are several meanings of bei – depending on the context – by, next to / near, at, to, with, among, in case of, during / while.
When to use BEI
Let’s look at several examples of the main uses and meaning of bei, including common phrases which are not translated with by in English.
1 When stating that someone or something is nearby or in the neighbourhood
- D’Tankstell ass beim* (bei dem) Supermarché. The gas station is nearby the shopping centre.
- Ech wunne bei der Gare. I live next to the station.
- Lee deng Schong bei d’Entrée. Put your shoes next to the entrance hall.
*In the dative case the preposition bei can contract: combined with the definite articles masculine and neutral: dem it forms a contracted short form: beim (bei + dem)
2 When stating that someone is at a place
Then bei is often translated by with:
- Hatt wunnt bei senger Boma. She is living with her grandmother.
- Du solls bei him bleiwen. You should stay with him.
3 During an action – while one is doing something:
- Mäi Jong ass beim* Reiden gefall. My son fell while riding.
- Mäi Papp séngt ëmmer beim* Spullen. My father always sings while doing the washing up.
4 When bei means in English in case of
- Bei engem Accident, rifft een d’Police. In case of an accident, one calls the police.
- Bei enger Gripp, ginn ech bei den Dokter. In case of a flu, I go to the doctor.
5 Some other meanings
- Bei eis gëtt um 19h00 Auer zu Owend giess. At home (at our place) we have dinner at 7.00 pm
- Meng Mamm ass beim* Dokter. My mother is at the doctor.
- Ech hu kee Bic bei mir. I have no pen on me.
When BEI literally means by
Used when someone or something is right by a place as opposed to in a place.
- Mäi Frënd trëfft mech beim Palais. My friend is meeting me by the “Palais” ( of the Grand-Duc)
- Mäi Brudder sëtzt bei senger Frëndin. My brother’s sitting right by his girlfriend.
- By myself is translated by: eleng
- Made by hand: handgemaach
- To pay by cart: mat der Kaart bezuelen
- One by one: Een nom aneren
Remember to keep in mind that these translations aren’t necessarily reversible, meaning just because sometimes “by” can mean with, that doesn’t mean that with will always mean “by.”
When it comes to prepositions, it is always best to first learn which grammatical case it goes with and then to learn popular combos (i.e verbs, expressions) these prepositions occur frequently with.
Complete the sentences with the correct personal pronoun or article!
- I live next to the station.
- They come to our place for dinner.
- I listen to the radio while driving.
Check the solution by downloading the PDF and practice with MORE sentences to translate !
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