The person in grammar

(The three grammatical persons of the verb)

Table of contents – grammatical persons

On this page you will find the following:

  1. Grammatical persons of the verb
  2. Further explanations and exercises

What are the grammatical persons of the verb?

In the German language (in English too), a verb can be conjugated in three different grammatical persons. These are necessary to be able to cover every communicative situation. The grammatical person can be in the singular or in the plural.

In detail, German grammar offers these possibilities for conjugation:

  • 1st person: Referring to the speaker himself:
    • singular ‘ich’ (I):
      • ich esse (I eat), ich lese (I read), ich denke (I think), ich sitze (I sit)
    • plural ‘wir’ (we):
      • wir feiern (we celebrate), wir trinken (we drink), wir überlegen (we think), wir haben (we have)
  • Note: The polite form ‘Sie’ (you) – written with a capital letter – exists, which follows the conjugation of the 3rd person plural but is assigned to the 2nd person singular or plural in terms of meaning. Also, note that English does not differentiate between the forms ‘sie’ (they) and ‘Sie’ (you).
  • 2nd person: Referring to another participant in the conversation:
    • singular ‘du/Sie’ (you):
      • du redest (you speak), du kannst (you can), du haust (you punch), du fliegst (you fly)
      • polite: Sie warten (you wait), Sie antworten (you answer)
    • plural ‘ihr/Sie’ (you):
      • ihr sagt (you say), ihr schreit (you scream), ihr macht (you do), ihr fahrt (you drive)
      • polite: Sie fragen (you ask), Sie grüßen (you greet)
  • 3rd person: A person or thing one is talking about:
    • singular ‘er/sie/es’ (he/she/it):
      • er macht (he does), er liegt (he lies), er gibt (he gives), er hüpft (he jumps)
      • sie fährt (she drives), sie wäscht (she washes), sie arbeitet (she works), sie schickt (she sends)
      • es fliegt (it flies), es regnet (it rains), es liegt (it lies), es funktioniert (it functions)
    • plural ‘sie/Sie’ (they/you):
      • sie kochen (they cook), sie putzen (they clean), sie füllen aus (they fill in), sie helfen (they help)
      • (polite: Sie trinken [you drink])

Further explanations relating to the ‘Person in grammar’

The following explanations are related to the topic ‘The grammatical person of the verb in German’ and may be helpful as well: