Personal Pronouns in German Grammar

Introduction

Personal Pronouns replace nouns that have already been mentioned. In German grammar, personal pronouns are declined depending on the case they are in (see below: table of personal pronouns in nominative accusative and dative). We use personal pronouns to talk about ourselves and to address other people.

Learn about personal pronouns in German grammar with Lingolia’s free online lesson, then test your knowledge in the interactive exercises.

singularplural
1st pers.2nd pers.3rd person1st pers.2nd pers.3rd pers.
nominative ich du er sie es wir ihr sie
dative mir dir ihm ihr ihm uns euch ihnen
accusative mich dich ihn sie es uns euch sie

Usage

Personal pronouns have a different form for each grammatical person. They can reflect gender or number. We use personal pronouns in German grammar to express different things:

  • We use personal pronouns in the 3rd person (er, sie, es) to replace a previously mentioned noun.
    Example:
    Ich habe eine Katze. Sie ist sehr niedlich.I have a cat. It is very cute.
    To avoid misunderstandings, it should always be clear which noun we are replacing (in case of doubt, it’s better to just repeat the noun).
    Example:
    Herr Schneider hatte einen Wellensittich. Er ist gestorben.Mr. Schneider had a budgerigar. He died.
    (Who – the budgerigar or Herr Schneider?)
  • We use pronouns in the 3rd person neuter (es) in impersonal forms.
    Example:
    Es regnet. Es ist schon spät.It’s raining. It’s getting late.
  • We can also es as a placeholder for an entire clause that comes later in the sentence.
    Example:
    Es freut mich, dass du mich besuchst.It makes me happy that you’re visiting.
    (instead of: Dass du mich besuchst, freut mich.Your visit makes me happy.)
  • We use personal pronouns in the first person (ich, wir) to talk about ourselves in singualr (ich) or plural (wir).
    Example:
    Ich habe Hunger. Mir ist kalt.I am hungry. I am cold.
    Wir gehen ins Kino. Uns ist das egal.We are going to the cinema. We don’t care.
  • We use personal pronouns in the 2nd person (du, ihr) or the polite form Sie (identical to the 3rd personal plural, except that the pronoun is written with a capital letter) to address other people,.
    Example:
    Wie heißt du? Wie geht es dir?What’s your name? How are you?
    Woher kommt ihr? Welche Musik gefällt euch?Where do you come from? What music do you like?
    Können Sie das bitte wiederholen? Kann ich Ihnen helfen?Can you please repeat that? Can I help you?

Personal Pronouns and Cases in German Grammar

For information on using the cases, see Declension.