Learn German Pronouns

By optilingo

Complete lesson on German pronouns, including subject, object, prepositional, reflexive & relative pronouns. Includes German demonstrative, indefinite & interrogative pronouns.

Understanding German grammar [How to Learn German Grammar]will help you on your way to foreign language fluency. In the German language, pronouns replace the nouns they describe, and are often very short words. Commonly used pronouns in English include: I, you, he, she, and it. Similar to English, German has several different types of pronouns. These include the following:

Summary of German pronouns:

Personal pronouns

Reflexive pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns

Interrogative pronouns (question words)

Relative pronouns

Indefinite pronouns

Possessive pronouns

A bit more explanation on each type of pronoun is provided below.

Personal Pronouns

Personal pronouns are pronouns that are associated primarily with a particular grammatical person – first person (as I), second person (as you), or third person (as he, she, it, they). Personal pronouns may also take different forms depending on number (usually singular or plural), grammatical or natural gender, case, and formality. The term “personal” is used here purely to signify the grammatical sense; personal pronouns are not limited to people and can also refer to animals and objects (as the English personal pronoun it usually does).

A summary of German personal pronouns is provided in the table below:

Nominative

Accusative

Dative

ich I

mich me

mir (to) me

du you (inf. sing.)

dich you

dir (to) you

er he, it

ihn him, it

ihm (to) him, it

sie she, it

sie her, it

ihr (to) her, it

es it

es it

ihm (to) it

wir we

uns us

uns (to) us

ihr you (inf. pl.)

euch you

euch (to) you

sie they

sie them

ihnen (to) them

Sie you(formal. sing. & pl.)

Sie you

Ihnen (to) you

Note that there is no genitive case for these pronouns, as the genitive case demonstrates possession. Possessive pronouns are used for this purpose.

Reflexive pronouns

In German grammar, a reflexive pronoun indicates that the person who is realizing the action of the verb is also the recipient of the action. A summary of German reflexive pronouns is provided in the table below:

Accusative

Dative

myself

mich

mir

yourself (inf. sing.)

dich

dir

himself, herself, itself,  oneself

sich

sich

ourselves

uns

uns

yourselves (inf. pl.)

euch

euch

themselves

sich

sich

yourself, yourselves (formal)

sich

sich

Demonstrative pronouns

A demonstrative pronoun is a pronoun that is used to point to something specific within a sentence. These pronouns can indicate items in space or time, and they can be either singular or plural.

In German, the pronouns der, die, das, die are identical to the definite article, except in the genitive and the dative plural.

Interrogative pronouns (question words)

An interrogative pronoun is a pronoun that is used to make asking questions easy. In German they’re sometimes called W-Wörter, since they all start with W. In English, there are five interrogative pronouns: who, what, where, when, why, how. In German, all these concepts are similar, but there are differences in how they are conveyed.

Let’s start with the most basic German interrogative pronouns. These all have direct counterparts in English.

Basic German interrogative pronouns:

why        —       warum

what       —       was

when        —       wann

how           —       wie

The word for “where” gets a bit more complicated. This is because in German, the form of “where” changes based on the direction in which the action is taking place.

Forms of “where” in German:

where                 —  wo

where from        —  woher

where to          —   wohin

The German pronoun “who” is the most complex, as it has a number of declensions.

Forms of “who” in German:

English

German

Nominative

who

wer

Accusative

who(m)

wen

Genitive

whose

wessen

Dative

(to/from)) whom

wem

Relative pronouns

The relative pronouns who, that, which are identical to the demonstrative pronouns der, die, das. Note that unlike in English, the relative pronoun cannot be omitted in German.

Indefinite pronouns

An indefinite pronoun does not refer to any specific person or thing. In German, indefinite pronouns may refer to the presence or absence of something. In German, einer, eine, eines all refer to someone, or one thing. The pronouns keiner, keine, kein(e)s refer to no one, not any, or not anyone. Both sets of pronouns decline like definite articles, which have previously been covered.

Possessive pronouns

Possessive pronouns demonstrate ownership or relationships, and are similar between English and German. The possessive pronouns meiner, deiner, seiner, etc. (mine, yours, his, hers, etc.) are formed by adding the case endings for the definite article to the possessive adjectives:

Deine Jacke ist sehr schön, meine ist nicht so schön.

Your jacket is very nice; mine isn’t as nice.

Ihr könnt euer Auto überall parken, mit unserem ist das nicht möglich.

You can park your car  everywhere. With ours that’s not possible.

 

dependent possessive pronoun

(I’m reading my book.)

Singular

Plural

Masc.

Fem.

Neut.

All Genders

Nominitive —e

—e

Accusative —en —en —en

—e

Genitive —es —es —es

—er

Dative —em —em —em

—en

 

independent possessive pronoun

(You’re reading yours.)

Singular

Plural

Masc.

Fem.

Neut.

All Genders

Nominitive

—er

—e

— (e)s

—e

Accusative

—en

—e

— (e)s

—e

Dative

—em

—er

—em

—en