- Using a Pronoun
- Personal Pronouns
- Pronoun Man
A pronoun in German is a shortcut to refer to a noun, a word that stands for or represents a noun or noun phrase.
Wo ist sie?
Where is she?
Using a Pronoun
Rule 1: A pronoun is identified only in the context of the sentence in which it is used, so you must have a prior idea about who "he" or "she", er or sie is. Pronouns agree in the number and gender with the noun they are representing, and change their ending according to the 4 German cases.
Ich sehe ihn jetzt.
I see him now.
Rule 2: Personal pronouns replace one person or more people or things, so we do not need to repeat the noun again once the context is clear about who or what we are talking.
Rule 3: There are 3 perspectives of using pronouns in singular and plural form. A person can speak:
- of oneself:
- ich in singular (me)
- wir in plural (us)
- directly with someone:
- du in singular (familiar "you" in singular)
- ihr in plural (familiar "you" in plural)
- Sie to be polite (formal "you" in both singular and plural)
- about someone or something:
- er if it's singular masculine (he)
- sie if it's singular feminine (she)
- es if it's singular neutral (it)
- sie if it's plural (they)
Let's recap with a quick table:
|You (familiar plural)||ihr|
Rule 4: If we don't relate to a specific person or mean people in general we use the indefinite pronoun man. We use it like a personal pronoun in the third-person singular. "Man" is always the subject of the sentence.
Wo kann man hier gut essen?
Where can you eat well here? (Where can one eat here?)
Man denkt heute anders.
People think differently today.
Rule 5: If we don't know a person and want to show some politeness, then we address a person or more people with Sie instead of "du" or "ihr". Sie is always written with a capital "S" and shares the same conjugation as the third person plural.
Frau Müller, was möchten Sie trinken?
Ms. Müller, what would you like to drink?