German personal pronouns
- 1.What are personal pronouns in German?
- 1.1.ich, du, er, sie, es, wir, ihr, sie in German
- 1.2.Declension of personal pronouns
- 1.2.1.How to decline the personal pronouns?
- 1.2.2.Nominative case of personal pronouns
- 1.2.3.Dative case of personal pronouns
- 1.2.4.Accusative case of personal pronouns
- 1.2.5.Genitive case of personal pronouns
- 2.Polite form (Höflichkeitsform) of personal pronouns in German
- 2.1.What is the polite form of personal pronouns in German?
- 2.2.Use of the german Höflichkeitsform
- 2.3.Declension of the polite form 'Sie'
- 3.Important indefinite pronouns in German ('es' and 'man')
What are personal pronouns in German?
Personal pronouns in German are replacements for already mentioned nouns. Personal pronouns are also used to address other people or to talk about ourselves.
ich, du, er, sie, es, wir, ihr, sie in German
|Personal Pronoun||English Translation||Examples||Function|
|1st person singular||ich||I||
||to talk about the own person|
2nd person singular
||to address one person|
|3rd person singular||er / sie / es||he / she /it||
||to replace an already known noun ('das Auto')|
|1st person plural||wir||we||
||to talk about several people including the own person|
|2nd person plural||ihr||you||
||to address several people|
|3rd person plural||sie||they||
||to replace an already known noun ('die Großelern')|
Declension of personal pronouns
Personal pronouns have to be declined in:
- number (singular, plural)
- gender in third-person singular (masculine, feminine, neuter)
- case (nominative, dative, accusative, genitive)
How to decline the personal pronouns?
|1st person singular||ich||mir||mich||meiner|
|2nd person singular||du||dir||dich||deiner|
|3rd person singular||er / sie / es||ihm / ihr / ihm||ihn / sie / es||seiner / ihrere / seiner|
|1rst person plural||wir||uns||uns||unser|
|2nd person plural||ihr||euch||euch||euer|
|3rd person plural||sie||ihnen||sie||ihrer|
Nominative case of personal pronouns
The nominative case is always used as subject of the sentence.
- Ich reise gern. - I like to travel.
- Du bist mein Freund. You are my Friend.
- Er/sie/es ist lustig. - He/she/it is funny.
- Wir haben Hunger. we are hungry.
- Wo kommt ihr her? - Where are you from?
- Sie sind Wilkommen. They are welcome.
Dative case of personal pronouns
The dative is the indirect object of the sentence.
- Meine Kollegen helfen mir. - My colleagues help me.
- Gefällt dir die Jacke? - Do you like the jacket?
- Ich habe ihm/ihr zugesehen. - I watched him/her/it.
- Er vertraut uns. - He trusts us.
- Das Auto gehört euch. - That car is yours.
- Ihnen ist warm. - They're warm.
When do we use the dative case?
There are some linked verbs and prepositions which request the dative case:
Accusative case of personal pronouns
The dative is used as direct object of the sentence.
- Er hat mich getroffen. - He met me.
- Deine Mutter ruft dich an. - Your mother calls you.
- Hast du ihn/sie/es gesehen? - Did you see him/her/it?
- Hans hat uns nicht gefragt. - Hans didn't ask us.
- Es ist schön euch zu sehen! - It's nice to see you
- Ich habe sie nicht verstanden? - I didn't understand them?
When do we use the accusative case?
There are some linked verbs and prepositions which request the accusative case:
Genitive case of personal pronouns
Genitive forms of personal pronouns in German exist but are very rarely used.
- Wir erinnern uns seiner. - We remember him.
- Gott, erbarme dich unser! - God, have mercy on us!
If you require more information about which case to use, check out the German cases.
Polite form (Höflichkeitsform) of personal pronouns in German
What is the polite form of personal pronouns in German?
The personal pronoun used as polite form is the word 'Sie'.
- ... the formal equivalent to the informal form 'du'.
- ... always capitalized.
- ... similar declined as the third-person plural form.
- ... identical in singular and plural.
- ... indicating respect.
Use of the german Höflichkeitsform
'Sie' is used to address older people, strangers or people of higher hierarchical rank e.g. in student-teacher or employee-employer relations.
Normally 'Sie' is used for people you would call by their surname while 'du' is used for people you would call by their first name.
It is not likely to use the polite form to address friends, family members or kids.
Declension of the polite form 'Sie'
|Case||Personal Pronoun (singular and plural)||Example|
Important indefinite pronouns in German ('es' and 'man')
The pronoun 'es' can also be used as en indefinite pronoun for impersonal formulations.
- Es regnet. - It is raining.
- Es ist Weihnachten. - It's Christmas.
The indefinite pronoun 'man' is refering to one or more unspecified people. like 'es' it is a third-person singular pronoun and exclusively used in the nominative form.
- Man darf am Bahnhof nicht rauchen. - One must not smoke at the train station.
- Wenn es regnet, wird man nass. - If it rains, one gets wet.
Remember: The indefinite pronouns are third-person singular pronouns and therefore the connected verb does always stand in third-person singular form as well!
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