Confusing Words

Prepositions – diveyya, difunn, ditzu, difoah

When to use prepositions like veyyich and diveyya, funn and difunn, ditzu, and difoah.

Let’s talk about when to use common Pennsylvania Dutch prepositions in sentences. For example, here are some common prepositions in Deitsh:

  • about: veyyich or diveyya
  • from: funn or difunn
  • to: zu or ditzu
  • for: fa or difoah
  • before: eb or difoah*

You may have noticed with these words, that one is used in one sentence, and the other used in a different sentence. For example, when do you use veyyich and when do you use diveyya? How do you know which one to use?

What Are Prepositions?

Words like about, from, to, before are prepositions. Prepositions introduce or announce information to the listener or reader (for example the start or change of a new thought). When you see or hear a preposition, you often expect to hear more. The subject being introduced is generally a noun, pronoun, or location words.

What is a Subject?

Subjects are generally a noun or pronoun. So remember:

  • Nouns are people, places, or things.
  • Pronouns are substitutes for people, places or things (I, you, he, she, it, we, you all, they).
    • In questions, what and who and where are considered pronouns.

Since there may be other nouns and pronouns in a sentence, you have to identify which is the subject.

The subject is the part of the sentence that shows:

  • what it is about, or
  • who or what performs the action

Using Prepositions in Pennsylvania Dutch

Prepositions Before the Subject

Each preposition is in bold; the subject it introduces (noun or pronoun) is in italics.

  • We will talk about your grades.
    • Miah zayla shvetza veyyich dei grades.
  • It’s about 15 miles from our house to the store.
    • ‘Sis baut 15 meil funn unsah haus zu da shtoah.
  • She goes to the school.
    • See gayt zu di shool.
  • He brushes his teeth before he goes to bed.
    • Eah brohsht sei zay eb eah zu bett gayt.

Notice in each example above, the preposition (about, from, to, before) introduces a noun or pronoun. The preposition comes before the subject it’s introducing.

Prepositions After the Subject

But sometimes, the subject has already been introduced in the sentence before the preposition appears.

Here are some examples:
Again, each preposition is in bold; the subject it introduces is in italics.

  • What are you talking about?
  • Where are you from?
  • I have something to look forward to.
  • Who is that cake for?
  • I’ve never heard that before (or previously).

In Pennsylvania Dutch, there are special versions of prepositions to show the subject has already been mentioned in the sentence. Most often, it’s simply a case of adding di- to the front of the word.

  • veyyich becomes diveyya
  • funn becomes difunn
  • zu becomes ditzu
  • fa becomes difoah
  • eb becomes difoah*

When do you use certain Pennsylvania Dutch prepositions?

The important thing to keep in mind is whether the preposition comes before or after the subject. Here’s a quick chart to help you know which version of each to use.

Before the subjectAfter the subject
veyyich (about)diveyya (about)
funn (from)difunn (from)
zu (to)ditzu (to)
fa (for)difoah (for)
eb (before)difoah (before/previously)*
* Technically, difoah can also mean previously. However, at the end of a sentence, when a person says before even in English, they really mean previously.


Let’s look at some examples. Each preposition is in bold; the subject is in italics.

English wordBefore the subject (PDC)After the subject (PDC)
aboutHeit, zayla miah shvetza veyyich di eaht.Vass zayla miah shvetza diveyya?
from‘Sis nett veit funn do.Vo bisht du difunn?
to‘Sis baut ay shtund funn mei haus zu Evansville.Vass bisht du faddi gukka ditzu heit?
forDess is fa diah.Dess is vass ich gvoaht habb difoah.
beforeMiah zayla essa eb sell.Ich habb sell nett keaht difoah!