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Pronouns in German

(Die Pronomen)

List of all topics in the level A1

This lesson contains topics:

  1. German personal pronouns in the nominative case
  2. Possessive pronouns in the nominative case
  3. Demonstrative pronouns in the nominative case

German A1 Book
A self-study guide for the A1 level

A note for the visitors who have directly landed on this page from the search engine: this page is part of the step-by-step German learning course at level A1. To see the complete explanation of German pronouns, please visit the page German Pronouns under the section Summary of German Grammar.

A pronoun serves as a substitute for a noun. For instance, in the English language, we can say "Harry is a doctor. He resides in London." Here, the term "he" functions as a personal pronoun. Similarly, German, like English, features four types of pronouns: personal pronouns, possessive pronouns, demonstrative pronouns, and reflexive pronouns.

1. Personal pronouns


Personal pronouns serve as replacements for individuals or objects and are linked to specific grammatical categories, such as the first person, second person, and third person.

In the English language, personal pronouns are I, we, you, etc. Personal pronouns can be subject pronouns and object pronouns. In the German language, the subject is "der Nominativ" and the object is "der Akkusativ". (These names, nominative case, and accusative case are also used in the English language.)

Subject pronouns replace the name of the subject in the sentence. These are I, you, he, she, it, we, and they. For example, we are going to the market. He is a doctor. In German, subject pronouns (pronouns in the nominative case) are:

1.2 Personal pronouns in the nominative case

Singular Plural
1. person
ich (I)
wir (we)
2. person, familiar form
du (you)
ihr (you)
2. person, polite form
Sie (you)
Sie (you)
3. person
er (he)

es (it)


sie (they)

1.2 Two forms of 2nd-person pronoun

As evident, German utilizes two distinct categories for second-person pronouns.

2. person, familiar form
du (you)
ihr (you plural)
2. person, polite form
Sie (you)
Sie (you plural)

Sie (always starts with a capital S) is the formal version of "you". It isemployed in official documents and formal conversations. When interacting with someone unfamiliar or unknown to you, it is customary to address them using the formal "Sie" pronoun.

du is used when individuals share a close familiarity, such as family members addressing each other as "du". Likewise, students studying at the same educational level in a school or university also use "du". In the workplace, colleagues at the same job level utilize "du", while senior or junior colleagues are typically addressed as "Sie".

If you're uncertain about which form to use, opting for "Sie" is the more cautious choice.

Important: In addition to the German second-person pronoun "Sie," there exist two other pronouns spelled as "sie." When spelled with a lowercase "s," it is employed to refer to either "she" or "they." The sentence's structure aids in distinguishing whether it pertains to "she" or "they." However, confusion can arise when "Sie" is used at the start of a new sentence, as German sentences always begin with a capital letter. In such instances, the context and structure of the sentence clarify the meaning of "Sie." For instance:

Das ist Frau Lisa Müller. Sie ist Professorin. (This is Mrs. Lisa Müller. She is a professor.)

In the above example, “Sie” (she) has to be capitalized because it is coming at the beginning of the sentence. In this sentence, the context of “Sie” and the grammatical structure of the sentence are telling us the meaning, because “ist” (is) cannot be paired with second-person pronouns.

Object pronouns replace the object of the sentence. (Object is a noun that receives the action in the sentence.) Object pronouns in English are: me, you, her, him, it, us, and them. The objective case in German is called Akkusativ. As this course is step-by-step and we haven’t learned verbs yet. So, German personal pronouns in the accusative case (objective pronouns) will be discussed in chapter 14 (Pronouns in the accusative), after the discussion of the accusative case.

2. Possessive pronouns in the nominative case

Possessive pronouns show possession. In English, possessive pronouns are my, your, his, her, its, our, your, and their.
Their German counterparts are:

Singular Plural
1. person
mein (my)
unser (our)
2. person, familiar form
dein (your)
euer (your)
2. person, polite form
Ihr (your)
Ihr (your)
3. person
sein (his)

sein (its)


ihr (their)

Again, we can see that 2nd person polite form, 3rd person feminine, and 3rd person plural have the same possessive pronoun, but the difference is the capitalization of 2nd person polite form.

2.1 Adding an ending "-e" with feminine and plural pronouns

When showing possession of feminine and plural nouns, an ending “-e” is added to possessive pronouns.

For example:

Sie ist meine Schwester. Ihr Name ist Katja. (She is my sister. Her name is Katja.)

Er ist mein Bruder. Sein Name ist Sebastian. (He is my brother. His name is Sebastian.)

Lisa ist seine Frau. (Lisa is his wife.)

Thomas ist ihr Sohn. (Thomas is their son.)

Ana ist ihre Tochter. (Ana is their daughter.)

Jan und Julia sind ihre Nachbarn. (Jan and Julia are their neighbors. Sind means are)

Explanation of the above examples:

Sie ist meine Schwester. Ihr Name ist Kathja.
"Die Schwester" (sister) is a feminine noun and requires an ending "-e" with any possessive pronoun coming before it.

Er ist mein Bruder. Sein Name ist Sebastian.
Both nouns, i.e., "der Bruder" (brother) and "der Name" (name), are masculine nouns; therefore, no ending “-e” is required.

Lisa ist seine Frau.
"Die Frau" (woman, Mrs., or wife) is a feminine noun, so, an ending “-e” is required here.

Thomas ist ihr Sohn.
The word "Sohn" is a masculine noun, and when the possessive pronoun "ihr" is used before a masculine noun, it doesn't need an "-e" ending. This sentence can be translated as:

  1. Thomas is their son.
  2. Thomas is her son.

The meaning of "ihr" in the sentence depends on the context, indicating either "her" or "their". It's important to note that in this context, "ihr" is not referring to the second-person pronoun "you" because it's not capitalized.

Ana ist ihre Tochter.
"Die Tochter," which means "daughter," is a feminine noun, and when using a possessive pronoun before a feminine noun, it must be followed by the ending "-e."

Jan und Julia sind ihre Nachbarn.
"Die Nachbarn" (neighbors) is a plural noun. Possessive pronouns before plural nouns also require an ending “-e”.

In the accusative case (direct object case) and dative case (indirect object case), some personal pronouns change their endings. These topics will be discussed under lesson 14 (Pronouns in the accusative) and lesson 20 (Pronouns in the dative).

3. Demonstrative pronouns in the nominative case

Demonstrative pronouns, such as "this," "that," "these," and "those," serve the purpose of differentiating particular objects or individuals from others. In the German language, the demonstrative pronouns corresponding to the English words "that" and "that" are identical to the German definite articles: namely, der, die, das, and die (in the plural form).

English German
Singular demonstrative pronouns
that / this der (for masculine nouns)

die (for feminine nouns)

das (for neuter nous)
Plural demonstrative pronouns
that / these die


Der Mann ist mein Bruder. (That man is my brother.)

Die sind meine Eltern. (That are my parents.)

Die sind meine Kinder. (That are my children.)

For the English word this, German has a word dieser. It is explained further in the following table.

English German
Singular demonstrative pronouns
this dieser (for masculine nouns)

diese (for feminine nouns)

dieses (for neuter nous)
Plural demonstrative pronouns
these/those diese


Diese Frau ist seine Schwester. (This woman is his sister.)

Dieser Mann ist mein Bruder. (This man is my brother.)

Diese Kinder sind in Gruppe eins. (These children are in group one.)

Dieses Mädchen ist auch in Gruppe eins. (This girl is also in group one.)
"Das Mädchen" is a neuter noun.

4. Reflexive pronouns

A reflexive pronoun can function either as an object or as an indirect object. In the English language, reflexive pronouns include myself, yourself, himself, herself, oneself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, and themselves. These pronouns are all in the objective case (also known as the accusative case), and we will discuss their usage after explaining the German accusative case.

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