Personal Pronouns

What are Personal Pronouns?

We use personal pronouns to replace names we've already mentioned, talk about ourselves, and talk to and about other people and things. In English they are words like "he," "you," and "them."

Examples:

  • Er sieht ihn.“
  • Sie sieht es.“
  • Wir sehen sie.“

What Information is Contained in a Personal Pronoun?

Personal pronouns show the gender, the number, and the case of the noun they represent. 

Examples:

  • „er“ = Masculine, Singular, Nominative
  • „wir“ = Plural, Nominative
  • „es “ = Neuter, Singular, Nominative
  • „ich“ = Singular, Nominative

Personal Pronoun Forms

  • du/ihr“ = informal

(used with friends, family, and in informal situations)

  • Sie“ = formal / polite form

(used with bosses, strangers, and in formal situations)

Declension of Personal Pronouns

Personal Pronouns have the be declined - changed based on which case they are in.

Example:

  • „Das ist Max. Er spielt gerne Fußball.“
  • „Ich mag ihn.“
  • „Ich schenke ihm einen Ball.“
Personalpronomen Deklination

Using Personal Pronouns

First Person Personal Pronouns (ich, wir)

In first person, we are talking about ourselves.

  • Ich gehe nach Hause.“  - „Mir ist kalt.“
  • Wir machen immer unsere Hausaufgaben.“  - „Uns ist das wichtig.“

Second Person Personal Pronouns (du, ihr, Sie)

In second person, we are talking about the person / people we are talking to. Note that "Sie" and its other forms are written with a capital letter.

  • Du wirst heute dein Zimmer aufräumen.“ - „Ich werde dir helfen.“
  • „Habt ihr eure Deutsch-Hausaufgaben schon gemacht?“ - „Was war besonders schwer für euch?.“ 
  • „Können Sie mir bitte helfen?“ - „Ja, natürlich kann ich Ihnen helfen."

Third Person Personal Pronouns (er, sie, es)

In third person, we are talking about other people or things (neither the speaker nor the listener). We use them instead of the normal nouns or names because it's obvious who we're talking about, or we've already mentioned their name before - and using the personal pronouns is shorter.

  • „Marcel ist in Luisa verliebt?“ - „Er geht heute mit ihr ins Kino."

If you're not sure it's obvious (i.e. two nouns with the same gender are involved), it's better to use the actual nouns to avoid misunderstandings.

  • „Frau Meier hat eine Katze.“ - „Ich mag sie sehr.“

(Who? Die Katze or Frau Meier?)

Summary

We use personal pronouns to replace names we've already mentioned, talk about ourselves, and talk about the people we're speaking to.

There are different pronouns depending on who we're talking about it (their gender and number) and their function in the sentence (their case).

Related Topics:

Pronouns often have to be declined based on their case, so it's important to know when to use nominativeaccusativedative 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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