How to use personal Pronouns in German Grammar

Introduction

Personal pronouns are used to replace nouns that have already been mentioned. In German grammar, personal pronouns are declined depending on the case. Personal pronouns are used to talk about yourself and to talk to other people.

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Usage

  • Personal pronouns in the 3rd person (he, she, it) usually replace a previously mentioned noun.

Example: Ich habe eine Schwester. Sie ist sehr nett. I have a sister. She is very nice.
To avoid misunderstandings, it should always be clear which noun we are replacing (if in doubt, better repeat the noun).
Example: Herr Schmidt hatte einen Vogel. Er ist gestorben. Mr Schmidt had a bird. He died. (Who - the bird or Mr Schmidt?)

  • The pronoun it can also stand for impersonal forms.

Example: Es schneit. Es ist schon dunkel. It is snowing. It is already dark.

 

  • The pronoun it can also be a placeholder for a whole part of a sentence that is further back in the sentence.

Example: Es freut mich, dass du hier bist. (instead of: Dass du hier bist, freut mich.) I'm glad you're here.
 

  • We use personal pronouns in the 1st person ((ich, wir) when we talk about ourselves.

Example: Ich habe Durst. Mir ist warm. I am thirsty. I am warm.

  • When we address other people, we use the personal pronouns in the 2nd person (du, ihr) or the polite form you (corresponds to the 3rd person plural Sie, the pronoun is capitalised).

Example:
Wie heißt er? What is his name? Wie geht es ihm? How is he? Woher kommt sie? Where is she from? Welche Musik gefällt ihr? What music does she like? Können Sie das bitte an die Tafel schreiben? Can you write this on the board, please?  Kann ich dir helfen? Can I help you?