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German pronouns

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What are Pronouns in German?

German pronouns have the same functions as in English. They are used to replace or sometimes accompany a name or a noun and refer to people or things. 

There are seven different types of pronouns in German:

  1. Personal pronouns
  2. Possessive pronouns
  3. Demonstrative pronouns
  4. Interrogative pronouns
  5. Reflexive pronouns
  6. Indefinite pronouns
  7. Relative pronouns

Most of the pronouns have to be declined in...

  • ... number (singular, plural)
  • ... gender (masculine, feminine, neuter)
  • ... and case (nominative, genitive, dative accusative)

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Personal pronouns (ich, du, er, sie, es, wir, ihr, sie)

Personal pronouns in German are replacements for already mentioned nouns. They refer to a specific person, thing or group and are also used to address other people or to talk about ourselves.

Personal pronouns have to be declined in... 

  • ...number,
  • ...gender,
  • ...and case.
 

Nominative

Dative

AccusativeGenitive
1st Person Singular ichmirmichmeiner
2nd Person Singulardudirdichdeiner
3rd Person Singular er/sie/esihm/ihr/ihmsichseiner/ihrer/seiner
1st Person Pluralwirunsunsunserer
2nd Person Pluralihreucheucheurer
3rd Person Pluralsieihnensichihrer

Examples

  • Ich liebe meine Frau. I love my wife.

  • Magst du Kuchen? - Do you like cake?
  • Er ist nach Berlin gereist. - He traveled to Berlin.
  • Sie ist krank. - She is sick.
  • Es ist sehr Süß. - It is very cute
  • Uns ist das egal. - We don't care about it.
  • Euch gefällt die deutsche Sprache. - You like the German language.
  • Sie lieben sich. - They love each other.

To find out more, please check out 'German personal pronouns'. 

Possessive pronouns (mein, dein, sein, unser, euer, ihr)

Possessive pronouns are used to indicate ownership or affiliation. To decline possessive pronouns in German we always use the word stem shown in the table. The word stem gives information about the person. 

 Personal PronounPossessive Pronoun (word stem) English Translation
1st person singularichmein-my 
2nd person singulardudeinyour 
3rd person singular (m)ersein-his
3rd person singular (f)sieihr-her 
3rd person singular (n)essein-its
1st person pluralwirunser-our 
2nd person pluralihreu(e)r-your 
3rd person pluralsieihr-their

By adding different endings we determine the pronouns...

  • ...number
  • ...gender
  • ...and case

Examples

  • Das ist ein süßer Hund und es ist meiner. -That's a cute dog and it's mine.
  • Das Haus, welches abbrannte war seines. - The house which burned down was his. 
  • Unser Urlaub war schön. Wie war eurer? - Our vacation was nice. How was yours?

Please click on 'German possessive pronouns' to get all the needed information.

Demonstrative pronouns (dieser, jener, der, die, das, ...)

Demonstrative pronouns are used to emphasize something that is already defined. They replace a before mentioned noun or accompany the emphasized noun.

List of important possessive pronouns in German

  • dieser/ diese/ dieses​

  • jener/ jene/ jenes 

  • der da/ die da/ das da​
  • dieser dort/ diese dort/ dieses dort
  • derjenige/ diejenige(n)/ dasjenige
  • derselbe/ dieselbe/ dasselbe
  • der/ die/ das
  • ...

English forms of demonstrative pronouns are 'that, this, those,...' 

These pronouns have to be declined due to their...

  • ...number
  • ...gender,
  • ...and case

The declension is similar to the declension of definite articles.

 NominativeGenitiveDativeAccusative
Masculinedieserdiesesdiesemdiesen
Femininediesedieserdieserdiese
Neuterdiesesdiesesdiesemdies(es)
Pluraldiesedieserdiesendiese
 

Examples

  • Mir gefällt dieser Tisch nicht. Jener dort drüben ist besser. - I don't like that table. That one over there is better.
  • Das ist ein echter Bernstein. Solche sind selten. - That's a real amber. Those ar rare.
  • Kennst du schon den neuen Mitschüler? - Nein, den habe ich noch nicht kennen gelernt. - Do you already know the new classmate? - No, I didn't get to know him yet.

Follow the link and learn more about German demonstrative pronouns.

Interrogative pronouns (wer, was, wen, wem, wessen, ...)

Interrogative pronouns are used to ask for something or someone. They replace the noun, that is referred to in the question.

The following list shows you the German interrogative pronouns with translation:

  • Wer? - Who?
  • Was? - What?
  • Wem? - Whom?
  • Wen? - Who?
  • Wessen? - Whose?
  • Welcher/Welche/Welchen? - Which?
  • Wie viel? - How much?
  • Wie viele? - How many?

Interrogative pronouns have the same case as the noun they ask for.

The majority of interrogative pronouns in German has no distinction in number and gender. (Exception: 'Welcher/Welche/Welchen')

Examples

  • Wer ist der Mann? - Who is that man?
  • Wessen Tasche ist das? - Whose bag is that?
  • Wie viel Geld brauchst du? - How much money do you need?

You get more detailed information on 'German interrogative pronouns'.

Reflexive pronouns (mich, dich, sich, uns, euch, mir, dir)

Reflexive pronouns ensure that the action expressed by the predicate is reflected on the subject. They linked to specific verbs that require reflective pronominal use, the so-called reflexive or reciprocal verbs.

Reflexive pronouns are declined by their...

  • ... number (singular, plural)
  • ... and case (nominative, accusative, dative)

You find all the reflexive pronouns in the following table

 Nominative

Accusative

Dative

In English 
1st person singular ichmich mirmyself
2nd person singular du dich diryourself
3rd person singular er / sie / essichsichhim- /her- / itself
1st person plural wirunsunsourselves
2nd person plural ihreucheuchyourselves
3rd person pluralsiesichsichthemselves
 
Examples
  • Das bin ich. - That's me.
  • Sie wäscht sich. - She washes herself.
  • Das gefällt dir. - You like that.

Click on 'German reflexive pronouns' and learn more!

Indefinite pronouns (jemand, jeder, keiner, alle, etwas, man,...)

Indefinite pronouns in German are used for undefined subjects or objects. They have the function of generalizing.

List of most important indefinite pronouns:

  • etwas something
  • nichts nothing
  • man - one/you (undefined)
  • jemand somebody/someone/anybody/anyone
  • jeder everybody/everyone/anyone/anybody/every(-thing)
  • nichts - nothing
  • alles - everything
  • etwas - something / a little
  • ein bisschen / ein wenig - a little/a bit
  • einige - some

Examples

  • Kann mir jemand die Tür öffnen? - Can somebody open the door?
  • Nichts kann mich mehr schocken. Nothing can shock me any more.
  • Es hängen noch einige Äpfel am Baum. - There are still hanging some apples on the tree.

enlightenedIndefinite pronouns in German are declined in different ways!

To get all needed information continue on 'German indefinite pronouns'.

Relative pronouns (welcher, welche, welches, der , die, das, wo, was,...)

A German relative pronoun introduces a relative clause which describes a nouns, pronoun or even a whole sentence more precisely. Therefore the relative pronouns replaces the related element in the relative clause.

Gender and number of the pronoun are dependent to the element it is replacing.

The pronouns case depends on given verbs or prepositions.

'der/die/das' and 'welcher/welche/welches' are the most important relative pronouns.

 MasculineFeminineNeuterPlural
Nominativeder / welcherdie / welchedas / welchesdie / welche
Accusativeden / welchendie / welchedas / welchesdie / welche
Dativedem / welchemder / welcherdem / welchemdenen / welchen
Genitivedessenderendessenderen
 

Examples

  • Er ist der Junge, dem das Essen nicht schmeckte. - He is the boy, who didn't like food.
  • Die Äpfel, welche am Baum hängen, sind reif. - The towels, that are hanging on the tree, are ripe.

Relative pronouns can also be used with prepositions

  • Der Baum, an dem die Äpfel hängen, ist groß. - The tree, on which the apples are hanging, is big.

enlightenedThe relative pronouns 'was' and 'wo' are not declined

  • Alles, was ich sage, ist wichtig. - Everything I say is important.
  • Das ist der Ort, wo ich gestern war. - That's the place at which I've been yesterday.

Click 'German relative pronouns' and learn more!


Exercises

  1. Determine which kind of pronoun is used!
  2. Match the correct German pronouns!
  3. Fill in the correct German pronoun!
  4. Mark all the German possessive pronouns!

Determine which kind of pronoun is used!


Match the correct German pronouns!


Fill in the correct German pronoun!


Mark all the German possessive pronouns!


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Next lessons

1 German personal pronouns Learn the German personal pronouns with a fun and short interactive lesson.
2 German possessive pronouns Learn the German possessive pronouns with a fun and interactive lesson-
3 German demonstrative pronouns Learn the German demonstrative pronouns with a short and interactive fun lesson.
4 German interrogative pronouns Learn the German interrogative pronouns with a fun and short online lesson.
5 German reflexive pronouns Learn about the German reflexive pronoun!
6 German indefinite pronouns Learn about the German indefinite pronouns with an interactive lesson.
7 German relative pronouns Learn about the German relative pronouns.