German Pronouns: A Comprehensive Guide

German Pronouns: A Comprehensive Guide

German pronouns are essential for constructing sentences and engaging in conversation. They stand in place of a noun and change according to their role in a sentence and the gender and number of the noun they refer to.

Subject Pronouns

These pronouns function as the subject of a sentence.

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EnglishGerman
Iich
you (singular, informal)du
heer
shesie
ites
wewir
you (plural or formal)ihr (pl.) / Sie (formal)
theysie

E.g., Ich bin müde. – I am tired.

Accusative Pronouns

These are used as direct objects or after certain prepositions.

EnglishGerman
memich
you (singular, informal)dich
himihn
hersie
ites
usuns
you (plural or formal)euch (pl.) / Sie (formal)
themsie

E.g., Ich sehe dich. – I see you.

Dative Pronouns

These are used as indirect objects or after certain prepositions.

EnglishGerman
to memir
to you (singular, informal)dir
to himihm
to herihr
to itihm/es
to usuns
to you (plural or formal)euch (pl.) / Ihnen (formal)
to themihnen

E.g., Ich gebe ihm das Buch. – I give him the book.

Genitive Pronouns

These show possession.

EnglishGerman
mymeiner
your (singular, informal)deiner
hisseiner
herihrer
itsseiner
ourunserer
your (plural or formal)eurer (pl.) / Ihrer (formal)
theirihrer

E.g., Das ist das Haus meiner Großmutter. – That’s my grandmother’s house.

Reflexive Pronouns

Reflexive pronouns are used when the subject and object of the verb are the same.

In the accusative and dative cases, they are:

EnglishGerman (Accusative)German (Dative)
myselfmichmir
yourself (singular, informal)dichdir
himselfsichsich
herselfsichsich
itselfsichsich
ourselvesunsuns
yourselves (plural)eucheuch
themselvessichsich

E.g., Er wäscht sich. – He washes himself.

Demonstrative Pronouns

These are similar to “this” or “that” in English. They’re used to point out specific items. In German, they’re usually the same as the definite articles, but can carry emphasis in speech and context.

E.g., Dieser Apfel ist rot. – This apple is red.

Relative Pronouns

Used to introduce relative clauses and usually agree with the gender, number, and case of their antecedents.

E.g., Das ist der Mann, der ein Buch liest. – That’s the man who is reading a book.


Tips:

  1. Formal ‘You’: In German, ‘Sie’ (capitalized) is used as a formal ‘you’ for both singular and plural, regardless of the person’s gender or number.
  2. Pronoun Agreement: Just like adjectives, pronouns must agree in gender (masculine, feminine, neuter) and number (singular, plural) with the noun they replace.
  3. Learning with Context: It’s often helpful to learn pronouns in the context of whole sentences to understand their usage.

Keep practicing, and soon the use of these pronouns will become second nature!