german pronouns

What’s Mein Is Mein: 10 Simple Steps to Make German Pronouns All Yours

I am yours, you are mine, you are what you are.

So Crosby, Stills & Nash croon in their folk rock ballad—a lovely sentiment, to be sure.

But how the heck would you sing that to your German love interest?

Pronouns—yours, mine, you, I—are a tricky component of any language, but as you can probably imagine if you’re a veteran German learner, they’re especially tricky auf Deutsch. Like articles and adjectives, German pronouns change depending on a whole host of grammatical factors.

But never fear! Follow our 10 easy steps to master German pronouns, and you’ll be talking about yours, ours, his and hers in no time.

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Why Can German Pronouns Be Tricky?

They change based on case (dative, accusative, nominative).

In English, the sentence “That’s her” and “Give it to her” use the same pronoun. Don’t count on the same consistency in German. Pronouns change based on whether they’re used in the dative, accusative or nominative case. In order to use a German pronoun, you must first know whether it takes dative, accusative or nominative based on context, then know the proper form in each of those cases.

Possessive pronouns also change based on case—and on gender.

Possessive pronouns also change based on whether they appear in accusative, dative or nominative. But to make matters worse, they also change based on the gender of the object that you possess. The word “your” changes based on whether it’s your Katze or your Handy.

And there’s a difference between independent and dependent possessive pronouns—and that changes the ending too. 

In English, there’s a difference between saying “That’s my car” and “That’s mine.” If you’re thinking that it’s complicated in English, it must also be complicated in German, then you’re thinking correctly. German pronouns change depending on whether they precede a noun or whether they describe a previously mentioned noun. And, of course, all of that is dependent on the gender of the noun.

How to Master German Pronouns in 10 Easy Steps

Feeling overwhelmed yet? Don’t worry.

Everything seems more overwhelming before you break it down into smaller, more manageable parts. Work your way through these 10 steps and you’ll know your way around German pronouns in no time.

1. Learn the basic nominative pronouns

Nominative pronouns are the simplest, most basic pronouns in the German language, the pronouns that are used as subjects of sentences (I, you, he, she, we and so forth). Here they are:

First person: ich

Second person (informal): du

Third person (he/she/it): er/sie/es

First person plural: wir

Second person plural (informal): ihr

Third person plural: sie

Beispiele (Examples)

Ich bin hier. (I am here.)

Du gehst jetzt. (You go now.)

Das ist der Spiegel. Er ist sehr schön. (That is the mirror. It is very nice.)

2. Learn the basic accusative pronouns

But many sentence constructions call for cases other than nominative. For example, the accusative case is used when the pronoun is the object of the sentence. Note that several of the accusative pronouns are the same as the nominative pronouns.

The accusative pronouns are:

First person: mich

Second person (informal): dich

Third person (he/she/it): ihn/sie/es

First person plural: uns

Second person plural (informal): euch

Third person plural (formal): sie

Beispiele

Das Getränke ist für dich. (The drink is for you.)

Sie hasst uns. (She hates us.)

3. Learn the basic dative pronouns

Dative pronouns are more of a jump from nominative than accusative pronouns. They’re used as the indirect object in a sentence (for example, if someone is doing something to someone else) and they are:

First person: mir

Second person (informal): dir

Third person (he/she/it): ihm/ihr/ihm

First person plural: uns

Second person plural (informal): euch

Third person plural (formal): ihnen

Beispiele

Ich folge ihnen. (I follow them.)

Wir helfen euch. (We are helping you.)

4. Learn the dependent possessive pronouns (nominative)

Have you nailed the personal pronouns? Have you figured out how to seamlessly switch from nominative to accusative to dative? Make sure you have the first three steps down and, once you’re ready, move on to the dependent possessive pronouns.

The dependent possessive pronouns are for situations where you want to say that something belongs to you or to someone else. “That’s my book” or “That’s his car.”

Just like with the personal pronouns, you should start by learning the nominative versions of these possessive pronouns. Remember, the endings change based on whether the following noun is masculine, feminine, neutral or plural. But luckily, in nominative case, masculine and neutral pronouns follow the same rules, and feminine and plural pronouns follow the same rules. They are:

ich

Masculine and neutral: mein

Feminine and plural: meine

du

Masculine and neutral: dein

Feminine and plural: deine

er

Masculine and neutral: sein

Feminine and plural: seine

sie

Masculine and neutral: ihr

Feminine and plural: ihre

es

Masculine and neutral: sein

Feminine and plural: seine

wir

Masculine and neutral: unser

Feminine and plural: unsere

ihr

Masculine and neutral: euer

Feminine and plural: eure

sie

Masculine and neutral: ihr

Feminine and plural: ihre

Beispiele

Wo ist dein Hemd? (Where is your shirt?)

Hier ist unser Haus. (Here is our house.)

5. Learn the dependent possessive pronouns (accusative)

Knowing possessive pronouns in the accusative case is extremely important. You’ll often use the accusative case when talking about your possessions since the verb “to have” takes accusative.

Unfortunately, neutral deviates from masculine in the accusative case, but don’t let that deter you. The accusative dependent possessive pronouns are:

ich

Masculine: meinen

Neutral: mein

Feminine and plural: meine

du

Masculine: deinen

Neutral: dein

Feminine and plural: deine

er

Masculine: seinen

Neutral: sein

Feminine and plural: seine

sie

Masculine: ihren

Neutral: ihr

Feminine and plural: ihre

es

Masculine: seinen

Neutral: sein

Feminine and plural: seine

wir

Masculine: unseren

Neutral: unser

Feminine and plural: unsere

ihr

Masculine: euren

Neutral: euer

Feminine and plural: eure

sie

Masculine: ihren

Neutral: ihr

Feminine and plural: ihre

Beispiele

“Hast du deinen Hund?” “Ja, ich habe meinen Hund.” (“Do you have your dog?” “Yes, I have my dog.”)

6. Learn the dependent possessive pronouns (dative)

You know what’s next: Dative. Like with personal pronouns, dative pronouns deviate further from the nominative base. In dative, masculine and neutral are once again the same, but feminine and plural are different. The pronouns are:

ich

Masculine and neutral: meinem

Feminine: meiner

Plural: meinen

du

Masculine and neutral: deinem

Feminine: deiner

Plural: deinen

er

Masculine and neutral: seinem

Feminine: seiner

Plural: seinen

sie

Masculine and neutral: ihrem

Feminine: ihrer

Plural: ihren

es

Masculine and neutral: seinem

Feminine: seiner

Plural: seinen

wir

Masculine and neutral: unserem

Feminine: unserer

Plural: unseren

ihr

Masculine and neutral: eurem

Feminine: eurer

Plural: euren

sie

Masculine and neutral: ihrem

Feminine: ihrer

Plural: ihren

Beispiele 

Wir gehen mit meiner Mutter. (We are going with my mother.)

7. Figure out the genitive

Ah, the genitive: The forgotten German case, in the face of the more prominent nominative, accusative and dative cases.

The genitive is used to indicate possession. Let’s take a look at the genitive possession pronouns, then examine the case with an example.

ich

Masculine and neutral: meines

Feminine and plural: meiner

du

Masculine and neutral: deines

Feminine and plural: deiner

er

Masculine and neutral: seines

Feminine and plural: seiner

sie

Masculine and neutral: ihres

Feminine and plural: ihrer

es

Masculine and neutral: seines

Feminine and plural: seiner

wir

Masculine and neutral: unseres

Feminine and plural: unserer

ihr

Masculine and neutral: eures

Feminine and plural: eurer

sie

Masculine and neutral: ihres

Feminine and plural: ihrer

Beispiele 

Das ist das Haus seines Vaters. (That’s his father’s house.)

8. Learn the independent possessive pronouns (nominative)

Have you mastered the dependent possessive pronouns? Once you’ve gotten them down, as well as that tricky genitive case, you can tackle the independent possessive pronouns.

These are the equivalent of saying “mine” or “yours” in English. First, we’ll take a look at the nominative case:

ich

Masculine: meiner

Neutral: meins

Feminine and plural: meine

du

Masculine: deiner

Neutral: deins

Feminine and plural: deine

er

Masculine: seiner

Neutral: seins

Feminine and plural: seine

sie

Masculine: ihrer

Neutral: ihres

Feminine and plural: ihre

es

Masculine: seiner

Neutral: seins

Feminine and plural: seine

wir

Masculine: unserer

Neutral: unseres

Feminine and plural: unsere

ihr

Masculine: eurer

Neutral: eures

Feminine and plural: eure

sie

Masculine: ihrer

Neutral: ihres

Feminine and plural: ihre

Beispiele 

“Ist das dein Buch?” “Ja, das ist meins.” (“Is that your book?” “Yes, that is mine.”)

9. Learn the independent possessive pronouns (accusative)

Like the other kinds of pronouns, independent possessive pronouns also decline based on whether they appear in the accusative or dative case. The pronouns are:

ich

Masculine: meinen

Neutral: meins

Feminine and plural: meine

du

Masculine: deinen

Neutral: deins

Feminine and plural: deine

er

Masculine: seinen

Neutral: seins

Feminine and plural: seine

sie

Masculine: ihren

Neutral: ihres

Feminine and plural: ihre

es

Masculine: seinen

Neutral: seins

Feminine and plural: seine

wir

Masculine: unseren

Neutral: unseres

Feminine and plural: unsere

ihr

Masculine: euren

Neutral: eures

Feminine and plural: eure

sie

Masculine: ihren

Neutral: ihres

Feminine and plural: ihre

Beispiele 

“Hast du meine Zeitung?” “Nein, ich habe seine.” (“Do you have my newspaper?” “No, I have his.”)

10. Learn the independent possessive pronouns (dative)

At last, the final step: The dative independent possessive pronouns, which are:

ich

Masculine and neutral: meinem

Feminine: meiner

Plural: meinen

du

Masculine and neutral: deinem

Feminine: meiner

Plural: deinen

er

Masculine and neutral: seinem

Feminine: seiner

Plural: seinen

sie

Masculine and neutral: ihrem

Feminine: ihrer

Plural: ihren

es

Masculine and neutral: seinem

Feminine: seiner

Plural: seinen

wir

Masculine and neutral: unserem

Feminine: unserer

Plural: unseren

ihr

Masculine and neutral: eurem

Feminine: eurer

Plural: euren

sie

Masculine and neutral: ihrem

Feminine: ihrer

Plural: ihren

Beispiele

“Geht ihr nach eurer Wohnung?” “Nein, wir gehen nach deiner!” (“Are you going to your house?” “No, we’re going to yours!”)

Pronouns can be tricky, but if you follow these steps we’ve laid out here and learn the pronouns bit by bit, you’ll be talking about yours, mine and ours in no time at all.

Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)



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