German Grammar 103 – Personal pronouns

Personal pronouns stands for a known noun, which can be a person or a thing. In German they are a bit more complex than in English because of the choice as to whether to address someone in a formal or informal way.


singular

ich – I
du – you (informal)
Sie – you (formal)
er – he
sie – she
es – it

plural

wir – we
ihr – you (informal)
Sie – you (formal)
sie – they

For friends and children use the informal “du“ (singular) or “ihr“ (plural). “Sie“ for both singular and plural is for people you don’t know well and for those who are older than you.

Examples in sentences:

Du bist pünktlich.
You are punctual. (informal)

Sie sind pünktlich.
You are punctual. (formal)

Er ist aus Deutschland.
He is from Germany.

Ihr seid in Spanien.
You are in Spain. (informal)

Sie sind in Spanien.
You are in Spain. (formal)

Watch out!

‘Things’ are always “it“ in English. Since German uses all three genders for things, you might hear “sie“ – she, when referring to a newspaper “die Zeitung“, which is feminine in German.

Here a few more examples:

Er kauft eine Zeitung. Sie ist von heute.
He buys a newspaper. It (lit. she) is from today.

Mia hat einen neuen Tisch. Er ist braun.
Mia has a new table. It (lit. he) is brown.

EXERCISE: 103 Personal Pronouns | NEXT: 104 To be / Sein