Personal pronouns

(Using German personal pronouns)

Table of contents – personal pronouns

On this page you will find the following:

  1. Declensional forms of the personal pronouns
  2. The personal pronoun ‘es’ (it)
  3. Further explanations and exercises

What are personal pronouns? How are they inflected?

Personal pronouns (in German: Personalpronomen) are a subcategory of pronouns. They always substitute nouns and can be inflected, to be exact, declined. The declension (inflection) appears as follows:

Information: English grammar distinguishes only between subject and object pronouns, whereas German has one subject case (nominative), and three object cases (genitive, dative, accusative). Especially for the genitive (possessive case), translations strongly depend on the sentence formation, and so none are given.

Singular pronouns

Grammatical case 1st person pronoun 2nd person 3rd person (masculine) 3rd person (feminine) 3rd person (neuter)
Nominative ich (I) du (you) er (he) sie (she) es (it)
Genitive meiner deiner seiner ihrer seiner
Dative mir (me) dir (you) ihm (him) ihr (her) ihm (it)
Accusative mich (me) dich (you) ihn (him) sie (her) es (it)

Plural pronouns

Grammatical case 1st person pronoun 2nd person 3rd person
Nominative wir (we) ihr (you) sie (they)
Genitive unser euer ihrer
Dative uns (us) euch (you) ihnen (them)
Accusative uns (us) euch (you) sie (them)

What needs to be considered when using the personal pronoun ‘es’ (it)?

The personal pronounes’ (it) occupies a unique position in German grammar and represents persons or things. It is often used impersonally and frequently appears together with impersonal verbs. Some examples of the general use of this personal pronoun:

  • To convey something impersonal (see the dummy subject for specifics):
    • Es regnet schon wieder!“ (It’s raining again.)
    • „In dem neuen Laden gibt es viele günstige Artikel.“ (There are numerous inexpensive items in the new store.)
    • „Als wir ankamen, war es schon dunkel.“ (When we arrived, it was already dark.)
  • As a substitute for the subject:
    • „Das Essen ist gut, aber es könnte ein bisschen heißer sein.“ (The food is delicious, but it could be a little hotter.)
    • „Gehört dir das Handy? Nein, es gehört Karin.“ (Is the mobile phone yours? No, it belongs to Karin.)
  • In the context of a dass-sentence (that sentence):
    • Es war vollkommen klar, dass wir es nicht mehr rechtzeitig schaffen würden.“ (It was evident that we wouldn’t make it in time.)
    • „Mich freut es sehr, dass du uns besuchen kommst.“ (I’m delighted that you are coming to visit us.)
  • As a reference to an infinitive clause (which is a verb phrase that includes ‘zu’):
    • Es kann sehr hilfreich sein, sich vorher zu informieren.“ (It can be beneficial to inform yourself in advance.)
    • „Richtig war es auf jeden Fall, mir das zu sagen.“ (In any case, the right thing to do was to tell me.)

Further explanations related to the ‘Personal pronouns’

The following explanations are relating to the topic ‘Personal pronouns in German grammar’ and may be helpful too: