Personal pronouns

Personal pronouns can replace and refer to any kind of noun or noun phrase. They need to agree with the grammatical role of these nouns. This is often indicated by different forms of the pronoun. Here is an overview of personal pronouns in the nominative, accusative and dative case:

NominativeAccusativeDative
ich /I mich /me mir /me
du /you (inf.) dich /you dir /you
Sie /you (form.) Sie /you Ihnen /you
er /he ihn /him, it ihm /him, it
sie /she sie /her, it ihr /her, it
es /it es /it ihm /it
wir /we uns /us uns /us
ihr /you (inf.) euch /youeuch /you
Sie /you (form.) Sie /youIhnen /you
sie /they sie /them ihnen /them

Personal pronouns in use

The following section shows the usage and different functions of personal pronouns in a sentence. In the nominative, personal pronoun forms refer to the subject of the sentence:

Ich gehe nächste Woche in Urlaub.
I am going on holiday next week.

In the accusative, they often replace a noun functioning as the direct object:

Kennst du den Film? → Nein, ich habe ihn noch nicht gesehen.
Do you know the film?No, I haven’t seen it yet.

They also frequently follow prepositions requiring the accusative:

Für dich habe ich immer Zeit.
I’ve always got time for you.

In the dative, personal pronouns can be used used as the indirect object, with certain prepositions, some verbs and other structures followed by the dative case:

Er gibt ihr einen Schokoriegel.
He gives her a bar of chocolate.

Willst du mit mir essen gehen?
Do you want to go out to eat with me?

Kann ich Ihnen helfen?
Can I help you?

Mir geht es gut.
I am fine.

The genitive forms meiner ‘mine’, deiner ‘yours’(inf.), Ihrer ‘yours’(form.), seiner his, ihrer ‘hers’, seiner ‘his’, unser ‘ours’, euer ‘yours’(inf.), Ihrer ‘yours’(form.), ihrer ‘theirs’ are rarely used in contemporary German. They are usually replaced with an alternative structure:

Wir erinnern uns seiner. (gen.) → Wir erinnern uns an ihn.
We remember him.→ We remember him.

Special use of the pronoun es

Apart from referring to neuter nouns in the nominative and accusative, es can also refer to a phrase or a whole sentence:

Sitzen Sie gern in der Sonne? → Ja, ich genieße es richtig.
Do you like sitting in the sun?→ Yes, I thoroughly enjoy it.

Position of personal pronouns

In the case of two pronouns functioning as objects in a sentence, the accusative pronoun precedes the dative pronoun:

Wann stellt du mich (acc.) ihr (dat.) vor?
When will you introduce me to her?

If one of the objects is not a pronoun but a noun the pronoun comes before the noun:

Wann stellst du mich deiner Mutter vor?
When will you introduce me to your mother?

Er schenkt ihr einen Ring.
He gives her a ring

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