Demystifying hin and her: German Grammar

Hallo, Deutschlerner! Welcome to another exciting German lesson. Today, we’re diving into the fascinating world of two little words: ‘hin’ and ‘her.’ You’ll soon discover that mastering these words will greatly enhance your German language skills. So let’s get started!

In German, ‘hin’ and ‘her’ are directional words that indicate movement towards or away from a location. But don’t worry, it’s not as complicated as it sounds. Let’s break it down!

Demystifying hin and her: German Grammar

If you are really wanting to put your German learning on track, consider joining Herr Antrim’s Deutschlerner Club! For just $14.99 per month you will get access to his full A1 and A2 courses plus new materials as he creates them. You will go from knowing zero German to being able to have a short conversation in a short few weeks. Before you know it, you will be conversational in German on a variety of important topics, all while mastering German grammar.

What do “hin” and “her” really mean in German?

Imagine there is a line that represents your current position. When you use ‘hin,’ it means going away from your current position, away from the speaker. On the other hand, ‘her’ means coming towards your current position, towards the speaker.

Let’s explore some example sentences to help you grasp the concept. 

Geh bitte irgendwo anders hin! –
Please go somewhere else (away from my current position).

So, if I say “Geh bitte irgendwo anders hin!” I want you to go away from where I am right now. Simple enough.

Now, let’s use ‘her’ in a sentence: 

Komm bitte her! –
Come here please (towards my current position).

If I say “Komm bitte her!”, it means I want you to come towards where I am now. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. 

dahin & daher

Now, let’s expand our vocabulary. We have ‘dahin’ and ‘daher,’ which are similar to ‘hin’ and ‘her,’ but they imply a direction towards or away from a specific location. Usually this location was already mentioned in the conversation or is understood through context. For example: 

Ich gehe heute zum Zoo. Die Straßenbahn fährt direkt dahin. –
I am going to the zoo today. The tram goes directly there.

Fun fact: You could just say “hin” here and it would be fine.

So, “dahin” indicates movement towards a specific location. Here, the tram is going towards the zoo.

The word “daher” has a meaning completely separate from all of the other stuff in this lesson. It basically is an adverb that sometimes functions as a conjunction. It is used to mean “therefore”, similar to “deswegen” or “deshalb”. For example: 

Ich bin heute krank, daher komme ich nicht zur Arbeit. –
I am sick today, therefore I am not coming to work. 

If you are wondering how we got to this use when “her” is supposed to be “away from the speaker”, the answer is simple. It is figurative. It isn’t “from their position”, it is “from their circumstance”. 

wohin & woher

We also have “wohin” and “woher”, which are used when asking or answering questions about a destination or origin. For example:

Wohin gehst du? –
Where are you going?

Woher kommst du? –
Where are you from?

These questions are commonly used in German conversations to ask about destinations or origins. You can even answer the first one with “dahin” and “daher”. 

Wohin gehst du? –
Where are you going?

Ich gehe dahin. –
I’m going there. 

Woher kommst du? –
Where are you coming from?

Ich komme daher! –
I am coming from there.

Just know that the use of “daher” like this is pretty rare. 

Combo Moves for hin & her

hinaus, heraus & hinein, herein

Lastly, we have a variety of compound words that include “hin” and “her” combined with other directional words. For instance, “hinaus” and “heraus” mean “out”, “hinein” and “herein” mean “in”. These words further specify the direction of movement. For example:

Bitte geh hinaus in den Garten. –
Please go out into the garden.

Komm doch heraus aus deinem Zimmer! –
Come out of your room!

Bitte komm hinein ins Haus. –
Please come inside the house.

Klopf an und komm herein!  –
Knock and come in!

In each of these examples, the difference isn’t immediately clear based on the English translation. It is important to remember the explanation I gave at the beginning of this lesson for the difference between “hin” and “her”. “hin” means away from the speaker or contextual location and “her” is in the direction of the speaker or contextual location. 

“Bitte geh hinaus in den Garten.” indicates that the speaker is not in the garden and therefore the movement is away from the speaker in the direction of the garden. 

“Komm doch heraus aus deinem Zimmer!” indicates that the speaker is already outside of the room and they are telling the other person to go in the direction of the speaker out of the room. 

The same is true of “Bitte komm hinein ins Haus.”, which shows that the speaker is not yet in the house. “Klopf an und komm herein!” by contrast, shows that the speaker is already in the house and the person being commanded is on the outside about to go in the direction of the speaker. 

hinauf, herauf & hinunter, herunter

We also have “hinauf” and “herauf meaning “up” plus “hinunter” and “herunter” meaning “down”. These words describe vertical movements.

Wir klettern hinauf auf den Berggipfel. –
We are climbing up to the mountain summit.

Komm doch herauf auf die Terrasse! –
Come up to the terrace!

Bitte geh hinunter in den Keller. –
Please go down into the basement.

Komm doch herunter von der Leiter! –
Come down from the ladder!

Again, the main point is that the ones with “hin” are away from the speaker and “her” are towards the speaker. 

hinüber, herüber

Finally, we have “hinüber” and “herüber” meaning “over”. These words indicate movement across something. 

Der Schwan schwamm hinüber zum gegenüberliegenden Ufer. –
The swan swam across to the opposite bank.

Sie warf den Ball herüber zu ihrem Freund. –
She threw the ball over to her friend.

hin & her Shortcuts

It should probably be mentioned that you can shorten a lot of these combinations of hin and her with prepositions. For example “herein” and “hinein” become “rein” and “heraus” and “hinaus” become “raus”. There is also rauf, rüber and runter. 

Conclusion

Remember, “hin” implies movement away from the speaker, while “her” implies movement towards the speaker. And don’t forget about the compound words we’ve learned today! Keep practicing, and soon you’ll use these words effortlessly. 

If you are really wanting to put your German learning on track, consider joining Herr Antrim’s Deutschlerner Club! For just $14.99 per month you will get access to his full A1 and A2 courses plus new materials as he creates them. You will go from knowing zero German to being able to have a short conversation in a short few weeks. Before you know it, you will be conversational in German on a variety of important topics, all while mastering German grammar.

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