Learn the different meanings of the Luxembourgish preposition “Bei”

Bei is a two-way preposition

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 (direction, movement); or
  • the dative case, if they describe wou (where) the action is taking place (location, situation).

How would you translate the following sentences?

a) Bei schlechtem Wieder, bleiwen ech doheem.

b) Hatt wunnt nach bei sengen Elteren.

Most Luxembourgish students learn early on that it is often a different Luxembourgish preposition that replaces the main English equivalent in a sentence.

For instance bei can mean, depending on the context by, next to / near,  at, to, with, among, in case of, during / while.

The first example translates into In case of bad wheather,  I stay at home.
The 2. example translates into: She still lives at the home of (or with)  her parents.

 

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When to use BEI

Here are 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 something is nearby or in the neighbourhood you use bei:

Examples:

D’ Tankstell ass beim* (bei dem) Supermarché. The gas station is nearby the shopping centre.
Ech wunnen bei der Gare. I live next to the station.
Lee deng Schong bei d’Entrée. Put your shoes next to the entrance hall.

2 When stating that someone is at a place

Then bei is often translated by with:

Examples:

Hatt wunnt bei senger Boma.  She is living with her grandmother.
Mäi Mann hëlleft mir oft beim* Kachen. My husband often helps me with cooking.
Du solls bei him bleiwen. You should stay with him.

3 During an event – while one is doing something:

Examples:

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 docter.

5 Some other  meanings

Bei eis gëtt um 19h00 Auer zu Owend giess. At home 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 ‘BY‘ is BEI in Luxembourgish

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.

When ‘BY‘ is not BEI

Expressions with time:

You have to pay the invoice by the latest on Friday. Dir hutt bis e Freideg Zäit, fir d’Rechnung ze bezuelen.

Describing from someone:
This music is by Chopin. Dës Musek ass vum Chopin

Methods of transportation:
By car/train etc. Mam Auto/Zuch asw.

Or…:

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.

 *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)


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