"zu Hause" vs. "nach Hause"

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zuHausevsnachHauseThe difference between "zu Hause" vs. "nach Hause" easily trips up German learners, but it doesn't have to trip you up. Here are 3 ways to help you remember the difference.

1. "zu Hause" = home

"zu" is usually used as a preposition, so it would stand by itself and you might think that "zu Hause" means "to home." This is an exception. When you say "Ich bin zu Hause," I am home, you're really using three blocks of language. Think of them like lego blocks.

[Ich]  [bin]  [zu Hause].

So just as you learn "der Tisch" and not just "Tisch," learn this as one piece of language or one idea, not as two different words. So learn "zu Hause" meaning home just as you would "der Tisch" for table.

2. "nach Hause" = to home / toward home

When you say you're going somewhere in German, you use the two prepositions "zu" and "nach."

"Nach" is used for the BIG places.

Ich fliege nach Berlin. (a big city)

Wir fahren nach Kanada (a big country).

"Zu" on the other hand, is used for SMALLER places and for people, like your friend Michael.

Ich fahre zu Michael. (your friend)

Wir gehen zum Metzger. (the butcher--one shop is comparatively small)

Home is an important place; it's your home base, it's (hopefully) a safe place, a fun place to be, and a good place to spend quality time with your friends and your family. If we think of home as an important place like this, then it's also a BIG DEAL, and it fits in more with the guidelines for "nach" than with "zu."


Wir fahren jetzt nach Hause. (an important place to us)

Nach dem Training gehe ich sofort nach Hause.


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