German Demonstrative Pronouns

What are Demonstrative Pronouns?

Demonstrative pronouns are used to emphasize something and are therefore always strongly stressed.

They can also be used as a placeholder for a previously mentioned noun.

Example: 

  • „Wer ist der Mann dort?“ – „Den kenne ich nicht.“

Declining Demonstrative Pronouns

The demonstrative pronouns "der," "die," and "das" are declined the same as the relative pronouns:

Word Order

Demonstrative pronouns are strongly stressed and are therefore almost always in position 1:

  • „Der Mann gibt der Frau den Brief.“ (normal, as an article)
  • Den gibt der Mann der Frau.“
  • Den gibt er ihr!“

Alternative Word Order: „Er gibt den ihr.“ 

It is not grammatically incorrect to put demonstrative pronouns in position 3 or 4, but being placed in position 1 helps with the stress and sounds the most natural. Native speakers will probably be confused about what you are saying if the demonstrative pronoun is not in position 1.

The Demonstrative Pronoun "das"

"Das" combined with the verb "sein" refers to a person or thing (like pointing a finger at it).

It is often combined with the adverbs hier, da, and dort.

  • „Papa was ist das da?“ – „Das  ist ein Hammer.
  • „Wem gehören die Schuhe dort?“ – „Das sind meine!“

"Das" can also refer to a whole idea or situation.

  • Anna hat sich von Tobi getrennt!“  -  „Bist du dir sicher? Das kann nicht sein!“
  • Der Fernseher ist kaputt!“  -  „Das wusste ich auch so schon!“

A situation or idea has no gender das

Demonstrative Pronouns "dieser" / "jener"

"Dieser" and "jener" can be used as both articles and pronouns. For both uses they are declined the same.

"Dieser" is used to refer to something close to the speaker.

"Jener" is used to refer to something farther away from the speaker.

  • „Gefallen dir die Schuhe?“  – „Nein, diese nicht aber jene!“
  • „Ist das dein neues Auto?“  – „Dieses nicht, aber jenes!“
Tipp

Tip:

In informal language, "jenes" is rarely used. "Der," "die," "das," … + "da"/"dort" are used instead.

„Gefallen dir die Schuhe?“ – „Nein, diese nicht aber die dort!“

„Ist das dein neues Auto?“ – „Dieses nicht, aber das dort!“

Summary

  • We use demonstrative pronouns to stress and emphasize things.
  • They take the form "der," "die," "das," and their declined versions
  • If we cannot determine the gender, we use "das"
  • In order to show that something is at a distance, we can use "dieser" or "jener"

Related Topics:

Pronouns often have to be declined based on their case, so it's important to know when to use nominative, accusative, dative and genitive.

Here are the different types of pronouns you need to know: Demonstrative PronounsPersonal PronounsPossessive PronounsRelative PronounsReflexive Pronouns, and Indefinite Pronouns.

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