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A pronoun in German as well as in English is like a shortcut to refer to a noun, a word that stands for or represents a noun or noun phrase, a pronoun is identified only in the context of the sentence in which it is used. So you must have a prior idea about who "he or she" "er or sie" is. In English we find "I, her, what, that, his", In German pronouns use is governed by cases (nominative, accusative, dative, genitive), number and gender. All these three factors can affect the pronoun.

Types of pronouns include personal pronouns (refer to the persons speaking, the persons spoken to, or the persons or things spoken about), indefinite pronouns, relative (connect parts of sentences), reciprocal or reflexive pronouns (in which the object of a verb is being acted on by verb's subject), demonstrative, and interrogative pronouns.

 

German Personal Pronouns

The personal (subject) pronouns in German are (ich, du, er, sie, es, wir, ihr, Sie, sie.), and make the equivalent of (I, you, he, she, it, we, you people, you all, they) in English, usually they take the nominative form, since they’re the subject of the sentence. They’re very important and therefore they must be memorized by heart.

I have a pen = Ich habe einen Kugelschreiber.

 

Personal Pronouns in German

Singular

I

ich

you (familiar)

du

you (formal)

Sie

he, she, it

er, sie, es

Plural

we

wir

you (familiar)

ihr

you (formal)

Sie

they

sie

 

German Object Pronouns

Object pronouns replace the object of a sentence; direct object pronouns take the place of the direct object nouns, let’s take this example “I see a man”, “a man” can be replaced in English by the direct object pronoun “him” and not “he”, so it would be “I see him”, the same thing happens in German:

Ich sehe einen Mann becomes Ich sehe ihn.

Note that the direct object pronoun in German is associated with the accusative case:

 

Direct Object Pronouns in German

Singular

me

mich

you (familiar)

dich

you (formal)

Sie

him, her, it

ihn, sie, es

Plural

us

uns

you (familiar)

euch

you (formal)

Sie

them

sie

 

The indirect object pronouns (IOP) are used to replace nouns (people or things) in a sentence to which the action of the verb occurs. In English usually it is preceded by a preposition, “I give the book to Katja”, the name “Katja” is an indirect object noun, to replace it with a pronoun we would say in English “her”, in German we would say “ihr”, note that since the IOP is associated with the dative, the preposition “to” that we would usually use in English is not used in German, or rather we would say that it’s mixed with the pronoun (look at the table below to understand the concept better), for example “to her” in German will become one word “ihr”.

 

Indirect Object Pronouns in German

Singular

to me

mir

to you (familiar)

dir

to you (familiar)

Ihnen

to him, to her, to it

ihm, ihr, ihm

Plural

to us

uns

to you (familiar)

euch

to you (formal)

Ihnen

to them

ihnen



 

German Possessive Pronouns

The possessive is another aspect that you need to master in German, the possessive pronouns indicate ownership and they replace a noun just like in English, example: “it is my house” becomes “it is mine”. but while in English you can use “mine” to the singular and feminine, in German you have to add an “e” to for the feminine,

 

Possessive Pronouns in German

Singular

mine

mein/e

yours

mein/e

yours (formal)

Ihr/e

his, hers, its

sein/e

Plural

our

unser/e

yours (familiar)

eur/e

yours (formal)

Ihr/e

theirs

ihr/e

 

Now we will look at possessive adjectives, which are used more than the pronouns we’ve seen above. And since we’re talking about “adjectives” it means that they will take different forms in different cases. For example let’s have a look at “my” and “our” in German:

 

Possessive Adjectives in German

 

Nominative

Accusative

Dative

Genitive

Masculine

mein

meinen

meinem

meines

Feminine

meine

meine

meiner

meiner

Neuter

mein

mein

meinem

meines

Plural

meine

meine

meinen

meiner

 

 

Nominative

Accusative

Dative

Genitive

Masculine

unser

uns(e)ren

uns(e)rem

uns(e)res

Feminine

uns(e)re

uns(e)re

uns(e)rer

uns(e)rer

Neuter

unser

unser

uns(e)rem

uns(e)res

Plural

uns(e)re

uns(e)re

uns(e)ren

uns(e)rer

 

Note that we add an “e” when we deal with the feminine, either in the singular or the plural; I put it between parentheses above.

 

As we have learned in the verbs section, reflexive verbs express an action that acts upon the subject, and with the reflexive verbs you will find reflexive pronouns, which are placed after of the conjugated verb, for example: Ich washe mich (I wash myself). Ich stelle mir vor (I imagine “myself”). Note that these pronouns have two forms, one with the accusative and another with the dative. When to use each one of them will depend on the verb, some reflexive verbs are associated with the accusative, and some others are associated with the dative, you can check the verbs page to learn more.

 

German Reflexive Pronouns

Accusative

myself

mich

yourself (familiar)

dich

yourself (formal)

sich

himself, herself, itself

sich

ourselves

uns

yourselves (familiar)

euch

yourselves (formal)

sich

themselves

sich

 

Dative

myself

mir

yourself (familiar)

dir

yourself (formal)

sich

himself, herself, itself

sich

ourselves

uns

yourselves (familiar)

euch

yourselves (formal)

sich

themselves

sich

 

A brief summery of the pronouns we’ve learned so far:

 

German Pronouns

 

nominative

accusative

dative

genitive

1st singular

ich

mich

mir

mein-

2nd singular

du

dich

dir

dein-

3rd singular feminine

sie

sie

ihr

ihr-

3rd singular masculine

er

ihn

ihm

sein-

3rd singular neuter

es

es

ihm

sein-

1st plural

wir

uns

uns

unser-

2nd plural

ihr

euch

euch

eur-

3rd plural

sie

sie

ihnen

ihr-

formal (singular and plural)

Sie

Sie

Ihnen

Ihr-

 

German Demonstrative Pronouns

Demonstratives usually refer to a previously mentioned noun in a sentence, just like adjectives they must agree with the gender and number of the noun. The equivalent to them in English would be “this/these”.

German Demonstratives

 

masculine

feminine

neuter

plural

 

Nominative case

dieser

diese

dieses

diese

this/ these

Accusative case

diesen

diese

dieses

diese

this/ these

Dative case

diesem

dieser

diesem

diesen

to this/ these

Genitive cases

dieses

dieser

dieses

dieser

of this/ these

 

Other Pronouns:

Relative Pronouns: in German they are der, die, das (who, that, which), wer, was (who, that) and welcher (who, that). The gender, number, and case of the relative pronoun should agree with its antecedent.

Interrogative Pronouns: the most important in German are: wer (who), wen (whom), wem (to whom), wessen (whose), was (what), welcher (which).

Indefinite pronouns are: all- (all), ander- (other), einig- (one), etwas (some), jed- (each), kein- (no), nichts (nothing), man (we, one), niemand (no one).

 

All German Grammar Articles
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German Pronouns
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German Adjectives

 

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German pronouns, personal, object, possessive, reflexive, relative, indefinite, and interrogative pronouns.

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