German Pronouns: A Complete Guide

Learning German Pronouns
Kymberly has been passionate about languages for decades, both spoken and programmatic. Originally from Melbourne, Australia, she has taught English in Japan and Germany to children and adults, and now works as a professional translator and writer, based in Europe.

Pronouns are difficult to use correctly in any language, and German pronouns are no exception. Until you develop a ‘feeling’ for when each pronoun should be used, you can use reference tables in this article to help you choose the right German pronoun.

The best way to learn pronouns in any language is via the intentional immersive method – get used to the language as part of your everyday activities by reading widely, listening to music, using fun language learning apps, and chatting with native speakers. Keeping a pronoun reference table on hand will speed up the learning process.

If you wish to systematically learn German pronouns or the German language in general, try LingoDeer. It has curated fun lessons that teach you German and 10 more languages in a smart and comprehensive way. Click the button below to give it a try for free!

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Now, let’s first start with the basics of German pronouns before we move on to the specifics.You can also click on the headings to jump directly to the respective sections.

What Are Pronouns 

Different Types of Pronouns 

How To Learn German Pronouns Easily 

Using Personal Pronouns in German 

How To Use ‘It’ In German 

How Pronouns Change with Sentence Case 

Reference Table for German Pronoun 

Using Pronouns in German Question 

Reflexive Pronouns in German 

Demonstrative Pronouns in German 

Indefinite Pronouns in German 

You can also jump directly to a specific reference table if you would prefer.

Table 1: Introducing personal pronouns in German 

Table 2: Personal pronouns and sentence cases in German 

Table 3: Interrogative (question) pronouns in German

Table 4: Reflexive pronouns in German 

Table 5: Demonstrative pronouns in German 

Table 6: Indefinite pronouns in German 

What Are Pronouns

A pronoun is a word that replaces one or more nouns in a sentence – a person, place, thing, or an idea. For example, instead of referring to cats in every sentence in a conversation, you can use a pronoun.

The deer is sleeping. It has already eaten. Do you want to pet it?

German pronouns work in much the same way as they do in English. Using the same example as above:

Der Hirsch schläft. Der hat schon gefressen. Wollen sie der streicheln?

Different Types of Pronouns

There are many types of pronouns, used in different ways. The sentence case (in brackets) also changes which pronoun you need to use. We’ll cover that in the sections below.

  • Personal pronouns
    • Subject pronouns (nominative)
    • Direct object pronouns (accusative)
    • Indirect object pronouns (dative)
    • Reflexive pronouns
  • Interrogative pronouns
  • Demonstrative pronouns
  • Indefinite pronouns
  • Possessive pronouns (genitive)
  • Relative pronouns (used with subordinate clauses)

Below, we’ll look at personal, interrogative, demonstrative, and indefinite pronouns.

How To Learn German Pronouns Easily

I believe the intentional immersive method of learning a language is by far the best and most natural method of learning a language. While memorization may feel faster, it does not result in knowledge that sticks. If you want to be able to use a language naturally, learning it by using it is more effective in the long term. 

LingoDeer presents sentences and grammar in a natural progression throughout their German course. The LingoDeer app lets you work on all four skills – reading, listening to, writing, and speaking the sentences that you would use in your everyday life. This builds stronger bridges in your long-term memory. It’s an ideal tool to help you get used to seeing and using pronouns correctly.

Of course, there are some tricks that we can use to help us learn even faster, including reference tables or cheat sheets. 

  1. Choose one type of pronoun to focus on.
  2. Print or copy one of the reference tables below. 
  3. Keep it with you until you are comfortable choosing the correct pronoun of that type when writing or speaking German. 

Using Personal Pronouns in German

Learning German Pronouns

A personal pronoun refers to a person or a thing who has been previously mentioned. They are usually broken into the three groups. For example, using ‘speak’:

Personal Pronouns
  Singular Plural
1st person ich wir
2nd person (casual) du ihr
2nd person (formal) Sie Sie
3rd person er
sie
es
sie

Table 1: Introducing personal pronouns in German

How To Use ‘It’ In German

In English, ‘it’ is used to refer to all kinds of things or ideas. For example:

It is on the table. It’s an interesting idea.

In German, the 3rd person pronoun depends on the gender of the noun that it refers to.

masculine noun – Hast du der Bleistift gesehen? Ja, er ist auf dem Tisch.

feminine noun – Was macht die Katze? Sie schläft.

neuter noun – Wo ist das Buch? Ich habe es nicht gesehen.

How Pronouns Change with Sentence Case

In both German and English, the pronouns in a sentence reflect the sentence case, as you can see by the italic pronouns in the following example.

I would like the book. Can you please give it to me?

Ich möchte das Buch. Könnten Sie bitte, es mir geben?

Reference Table for German Pronouns

It is helpful to refer to a reference table until you have an intuitive feel for when to use which pronoun. Print or copy this chart onto a small card that you keep with your phone and refer to it when working on your LingoDeer German course. 

Personal Pronouns and Sentence Cases
  Nominative (Subject) Accusative (Direct Object) Dative (Indirect Object)
1st person ich (I) mich (me) mir (me/to me)
2nd person (casual) du (casual you) dich (you) dir (you/to you)
3rd person er (he) ihn (him) ihm (him/to him)
sie (she) sie (her) ihr (her/to her)
es (it) es (it) ihm (it/to it)
1st person wir (we) uns (us) uns (us/to us)
2nd person (casual) ihr (plural you) euch (you) euch (you/to you)
3rd person sie (they) sie (them) ihnen (them/to them)
2nd person (formal) Sie (formal you) Sie (you) Ihnen (You/to you)

Table 2: Personal pronouns and sentence cases in German

Note: As the genitive sentence case is used mostly with possessive pronouns, and a few specific prepositions and verbs, we’ll cover that in a separate article.

 

Using Pronouns in German Questions

You use interrogative pronouns when asking questions – who, where, what, to whom, etc. These are sometimes referred to as interrogative adjectives.

In German, you use different pronouns when asking a question about a living being versus a thing or an idea.

Interrogative (Question) Pronouns
Referring to a Person or Living Being Referring to a Thing
Nominative wer who was
wo(r)- + preposition
what
Accusative wen who
Dative wem whom

Table 3: Interrogative (question) pronouns in German

 

Reflexive Pronouns in German

Some reflexive verbs in both English and German require a specific pronoun. For example, the subject ‘I’ requires a reflexive pronoun in the following sentence: 

I dressed myself = Ich habe mich angezogen

In German, reflexive pronouns change depending on whether they are in the accusative or dative sentence case. For example:

You talk about yourself too much = Du redet zu viel von dir.

We will see each other tomorrow = Wir sehen uns morgen.

Reflexive Pronouns
Subject Pronoun Reflexive Pronoun
Nominative Accusative Dative English
ich mich mir myself
du dich dir yourself
er, sie, es sich sich himself, herself, itself
wir uns uns Ourselves, each other
ihr euch euch yourselves
sie sich sich themselves
Sie (formal) sich sich yourself, yourselves

Table 4: Reflexive pronouns in German

 

Demonstrative Pronouns in German

There are many demonstrative pronouns – pronouns that demonstrate or point to a specific person or thing or group. Both English and German use demonstrative pronouns in much the same way.

Demonstrative pronouns in German change depending on the gender of the noun they are referring to, as well as the sentence case. For example, ‘der-‘ in a demonstrative pronoun is replaced by ‘das-‘ when referring to a neuter noun.

this book = dieses Buch

that same car = dasselbe Auto

Demonstrative Pronouns
German English Examples
dieser This (one), that (one) Bitte geben Sie mir dieses bitte

 

Dies ist wunderschön

Give me that one please

 

This is wonderful

der, da-,

 

jener

That (one), those (ones) Stellen Sie es zu denen.

 

Legen Sie es darunter

Put it with those ones

 

Put it under there

derjenige, der* The one Ich suche den, den er mitgebracht hat I’m looking for the one he brought with him
derselbe The same one Ich habe schon dasselbe Auto gefahren I have driven that same car before
wer The one(s) who, those Wer schon bezahlt hat, kann gehen Those who have already paid can go

Table 5: Demonstrative pronouns in German

Learning German Pronouns

Indefinite Pronouns in German

Just like in English, there are a wide range of indefinite pronouns used to indicate various groupings of things or people. They may be used as pronouns, or as indefinite adjectives or adverbs.

They are used with the 3rd person of a verb, just as they are used in English, but they are not changed based on how they are used in any regular pattern, so this is where the intuitive immersive method is important. 

Read and listen widely to get a feel for how they are used. LingoDeer includes these naturally throughout the German course. 

The reference table below will help you choose the most appropriate one to use when writing or speaking.

Indefinite pronouns
German English Examples
alle, alles all, everyone, everything alle vier waren da = all four were there

 

alles ist möglich = everything is possible

andere other die zwei anderen Kinder = the two other children
anders, andere different anders machen = do it differently

 

eine andere Sache = a different matter

beide both, two beide sind da = both are there

 

ich habe beides gesehen = I’ve seen both of them

ein, einer one, someone eins von beiden = one of the two

 

einer muss es tun = someone must do it

ein bisschen a little Ich habe ein bisschen Geld = I have a little money
ein paar a pair, a few mit ein paar Leute = with a few people
einige some einige waren hier = some were here

 

einiges bleibt noch = some of it is still left
vor einiger Zeit = some time ago

etwas something, anything etwas wie dieses = something like this
irgend- +

 

(irgendwas, irgendjemand, irgendein, irgendwie, …)

at all, or other Hast du irgendwas gesehen? = Have you seen anything at all?

 

es irgendwie tun = do it somehow or other

jeder every jede zehn Sekunden = every ten seconds
jemand someone Kannst du jemanden fragen? = Can you ask someone?
kein no, not any keiner weiß = no one knows
mehrere several mehreren Gründen = several reasons
man one, people (general) die Ideen, die man hat = one’s ideas

 

man sagt, dass … = people say that

mancher some, many manche sagen Ja = some people say yes

 

mancher sind nicht hier = many are not here

niemand no one niemand kann es sagen = no one can say
viel much, many vieles, was du sagst = much of what you say

 

nicht viele wollen dieses = not many want this

Table 6: Indefinite pronouns in German


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