Personal Pronouns in German Grammar

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What are personal pronouns?

The basic German personal pronouns (Personalpronomen) are: ich, du, er/sie/es, wir, ihr, sie.

These small words refer to people, things and concepts and can be used in place of a noun to avoid repetition.

Ich habe einen Sohn. Er hat heute Geburtstag.I have a son. It’s his birthday today.

German personal pronouns are declined; this means that they have different forms depending on the case.

Ich habe eine Party für ihn organisiert.I’ve organised a party for him.
accusative: erihn
Ich schenke ihm ein neues Fahrrad.I’m giving him a new bike.
dative: erihm

In this section, we’re going to cover the different personal pronouns in German and when to use them. You can practise everything in the exercises.

Overview of all German personal pronouns

Singular Plural
1st Person 2nd Person 3rd Person 1st Person 2nd Person 3rd Person
N ich du er sie es wir ihr sie
A mich dich ihn uns euch
D mir dir ihm ihr ihm ihnen

Keep reading to learn about each type of pronoun individually.

When to use German personal pronouns

Nominative personal pronouns

The nominative personal pronouns are the subject pronouns in German.

They indicate the subject of the sentence, i.e. who or what is performing the the verb.

Er ist 16 Jahre alt.He is 16 years old.
German English Example
ich I Ich habe einen Sohn.I have a son.
du you Du spielst Tennis.You play tennis.
er he Er heißt Manuel.He’s called Manuel.
sie she Sie kommt zur Party.She’s coming to the party.
es it Es ist sonnig.It’s sunny.
wir we Wir organisieren eine Party.We’re organising a party.
ihr you (plural) Ihr bringt die Geschenke.You are bringing the presents.
sie they Sie sind am See.They are at the lake.

Accusative personal pronouns

The accusative personal pronouns are the direct object pronouns in German.

They show the direct object of the sentence, i.e. the person or thing that ‘receives’ the verb.

Ich rufe dich an.I’ll call you.
subject: ich; direct object: dich

English also has different forms for certain object pronouns:

I like him. (he → him)
not: I like he.
Ich mag ihn. (er → ihn)
not: Ich mag er.
German English Example
mich me Das Taxi holt mich ab.The taxi is picking me up.
dich you Ich mag dich.I like you..
ihn him Schnell, fang ihn!Quick, catch him!
sie her Die Blumen sind für sie.The flowers are for her.
es it Ich repariere es morgen.I’ll repair it tomorrow.
uns us Kannst du uns abholen?Can you pick us up?
euch you (plural) Ich sehe euch nachher.I’ll see you later.
sie them Bring sie bitte hierher.Please bring them here.

Dative personal pronouns

The dative personal pronouns are the indirect object pronouns in German.

They show the indirect object of the sentence; this is usually a person that receives the direct object.

Ich schenke ihm ein neues Fahrrad.I’m giving him a bike.
subject: ich; direct object: Fahrrad; indirect object: ihm

In English, the indirect object pronouns look the same as the direct object pronouns. Sometimes they are introduced by to. Compare the examples below:

I’ll explain it to him later.
direct object: it; indirect object: (to) him
Ich erkläre es ihm später.
direct object: es; indirect object: ihm
German English Example
mir me Sarah schenkte mir einen Schal.Sarah gave me a scarf.
dir you Ich sage es dir nachher.I’ll tell you later.
ihm him Wir hören ihm zu.We’re listening to him.
ihr her Gib ihr ein bisschen Zeit.Give her some time.
ihm it Das Tier ist niedlich. Ich schaue ihm beim Spielen zu.The animal is cute. I watch it playing.
uns us Bitte erzähle uns die ganze Geschichte.Please tell us the whole story.
euch you (plural) Die Lehrerin erklärt euch alles.The teacher will explain everything to you.
ihnen them Ich sage ihnen Bescheid.I’ll let them know.

sie or Sie?

The German pronoun sie has several uses:

  • sie + verb in the singular = she
—Kommt Emma zur Party?
—Nein, sie arbeitet an dem Abend.—Is Emma coming to the party?
—No, she’s working.
  • sie + verb in the plural = they
—Kommen Finn und Jonas zur Party?
—Ja, sie arbeiten nicht.—Are Finn and Jonas coming to the party?
—Yes, they aren’t working.
  • Sie (with a capital letter) + verb in the plural = formal you
—Entschuldigung, können Sie mir helfen?
—Natürlich. Was kann ich für Sie tun?—Excuse me, could you help me please?
—Of course, what can I do for you?

The formal you has the same meaning as du and ihr, but is used to address strangers and in other formal contexts.

Personal pronouns and cases in German grammar

For information on using the cases, see Declension.