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Pronouns:Personalpronomen

Personal pronouns serve primarily a stylistic function. They allow sentences to be less repetitive and more coherent. Personal pronouns can replace nouns that are mentioned more than once in a sentence or a set of connected sentences (dialogs, narratives, etc.).

Rotkäppchen und seine Mutter wohnen in dem Schloss. Little Red Riding hood and her mother live in the castle.
Sie wohnen in Wohnung 1/A. They live in apartment 1/A.

Gender and number

Pronouns match the grammatical gender of the noun they replace (signify). Thus, a little girl (das Mädchen) is 'es' (it) and a wolf (der Wolf) is 'er' (he) because their grammatical gender is neutral and masculine, respectively. This is truly unfair (and changing very slowly in youth language), and Little Red Riding Hood is legitimately incensed.

masculine der Wolf/the wolf er/he
feminine die Regierung/the government sie/she
neuter das Mädchen/the little girl es/it
plural die Hauptfiguren/the main characters sie/they

Cases

In German, any noun can be replaced by a pronoun, regardless of what case it is in.

Pronomen im Nominativ

The nominative case indicates the subject of a sentence, whether that subject is a noun (e.g., der Wolf, die Mutter) or a pronoun (er, sie).

Rotkäppchens Mutter Herr Wolf, lassen Sie Rotkäppchen in Ruhe! Es ist doch nur ein kleines Kind! Mr. Wolf, leave Little Red Riding Hood alone! She is only a small child!
Der Wolf Hey, ich habe doch nichts gemacht! Hey, but I didn't do anything!
Die Mutter Ja, natürlich! Dass ich nicht lache! Yeah, right! Don't make me* laugh!
Rotkäppchen Mutti, warum sagst du immer 'es'? Ich bin doch weiblich, du sollst das Pronomen 'sie' benutzen! Mom, why do you always say 'it'? I am feminine, right? You should use the pronoun 'she!'
Die Mutter Liebling, leider ist da nichts zu machen. Grammatisch bist du Neutrum, weil dein Name Rotkäppchen ist, und das 'chen' ist leider neutral. Tut mir echt leid! Darling, it can't be helped. Grammar-wise you are neutral because your name is Rotkäppchen, and the 'chen' is unfortunately neutral. I'm really sorry!
Rotkäppchen Hmmm ... diese dummen grammatischen Regeln! Sie sind veraltet und total unfair! Hmmm ... these stupid grammar rules! They are outdated and totally unfair!
I didn't do anything

* Although in German the phrase Dass ich nicht lache uses the nominative pronoun ich, the English idiomatic expression requires an object pronoun (me). Ich and me are not really interchangeable.

Pronouns in the nominative case Singular Plural
1st person ich (I) wir (we)
2nd person du (you) ihr (y'all)
3rd person masculine er (he)
3rd person feminine sie (she) sie (they)
3rd person neuter es (it)
formal Sie (you)

Pronomen im Akkusativ

The accusative case indicates the direct object of a sentence or the object of the prepositions durch, für, gegen, ohne and um, whether that subject is a noun (e.g., den Wolf, die Mutter) or a pronoun (ihn, sie).

Rotkäppchen Mutti, lass den Wolf in Ruhe und schimpf ihn nicht aus! Er hat wirklich nichts gemacht. Er hat bloß Joga gemacht! Mom, leave the wolf alone and don't scold him! He really didn't do anything. He was only doing yoga!
Der Wolf (zu sich selbst: to himself)  Hehe, ich habe sie ausgetrickst! Hehe, I fooled her!
Die Mutter Hmmm ... Ich werde Sie im Auge behalten, Herr Wolf! Ich bin sicher, dass Sie keine guten Absichten haben! Hmmm ... I am going to keep my eyes on you, Mr. Wolf! I am sure that your intentions are not good!
Der Wolf Was haben Sie gegen mich? Ohne mich gäbe es kein Rotkäppchen, kein Märchen! What do you have against me? Without me there would be no Little Red Riding Hood, no fairy tale!
Die Mutter Tja, Sie haben Recht. Aber ohne uns gäbe es auch Sie nicht! Well, you're right. But without us you also wouldn't be here!
Rotkäppchen Ok, ok, hört doch auf! Lasst uns alle dreimal hochleben! Wir sind alle großartig! Und das mein ich gar nicht ironisch ... ahhmmm ... OK, OK, stop it already! Three cheers to all of us! We are all wonderful! And I don't mean that ironically at all ... ahem ...
Pronouns in the accusative case Singular Plural
1st person mich (me) uns (us)
2nd person dich (you) euch (y'all)
3rd person masculine ihn (him)
3rd person feminine sie (her) sie (them)
3rd person neuter es (it)
formal Sie (you)

Pronomen im Dativ

The dative case indicates the indirect object of a sentence or the object of the prepositions aus, außer, bei, mit, nach, seit, von and zu, or of a dative verb (e.g., danken, helfen, leid tun), whether that subject is a noun (e.g., dem Wolf, der Mutter) or a pronoun (ihm, ihr).

Rotkäppchens Mutter Rotkäppchen, sei nicht so frech! Du sollst viel mehr Respekt vor mir haben! Little Red Riding Hood, don't be so cheeky! You should have much more respect for me!
Der Wolf Ja, du sollst ihr zuhören! Yes, you should listen to her!
Die Mutter Ich danke Ihnen, Herr Wolf! Das war sehr nett von Ihnen! Thank you, Mr. Wolf! That was very nice of you!
Rotkäppchen Ok, Mutti, tut mir leid! Jetzt gehe ich zu Schneewittchen, Aschenputtel und Dornröschen und rede mit ihnen. Du kannst uns vielleicht helfen. Ich will unserer Autorin einen Brief schreiben, damit ich eine 'sie' sein kann! Ich will ihr erklären, wie unfair es ist, uns Hauptfiguren 'es' zu nennen! OK, Mom, I'm* sorry! Now I'm going to talk to Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. Maybe you can help us? I want to write to our author, so that I can be a 'she!' I want to explain it to her, how unfair it is, to call us main characters 'it!'
Don't be cheeky

* Although the English expression is I'm sorry, the German idiomatic expression for this requires the dative case: 'Es tut mir/dir/uns leid.'

Pronouns in the dative case Singular Plural
1st person mir (me) uns (us)
2nd person dir (you) euch (y'all)
3rd person masculine ihm (him)
3rd person feminine ihr (her) ihnen (them)
3rd person neuter ihm (it)
formal Ihnen (you)

Pronomen im Genitiv

The genitive case indicates the owner of something or the object of the genitive prepositions anstatt, trotz, während and wegen, when that subject is a noun (e.g., des Wolfs, der Mutter).

However, genitive pronouns are a thing of the past, and if you need to use pronouns with the genitive prepositions, feel free to use the dative pronouns, since the genitive ones no longer exist (except in very, very formal writing, and even there it sounds stilted, even for German academic writing).

Rotkäppchens Mutter Liebling, ich weiß nicht, was die Autorin für dich tun kann, aber wegen mir kannst du deinen Brief schreiben! Darling, I don't know what the author can do for you, but as far as I am concerned*, you can write your letter!
Rotkäppchen Mutti, warum könnte statt mir nicht der Wolf neutral sein? Mom, why couldn't the wolf be neutral instead of me?
Der Wolf Hey, Moment mal! Hey now, wait just a minute!

* Although the German phrase is wegen mir, English requires an entire idiomatic expression to say as far as I am concerned - you could also use the German word meinetwegen but that sounds a bit more like teenage rebellion ...


For students who want to sound archaic ...
Pronouns in the genitive case Singular Plural
1st person meiner (my) unser (our)
2nd person deiner (your) eurer (y'all's)
3rd person masculine seiner (his)
3rd person feminine ihrer (her) ihrer (their)
3rd person neuter ihm (it)
formal Ihrer (you)

Primarily for teenagers who want to sound confrontational ...
Pronouns in the genitive case Singular Plural
1st person meinetwegen (for/because of me) unsretwegen (for/because of us)
2nd person deinetwegen (for/because of you) euretwegen (for/because of y'all)
3rd person masculine seinetwegen (for/because of him)
3rd person feminine ihretwegen (for/because of her) ihretwegen (for/because of them)
3rd person neuter seinetwegen (for/because of it)
formal Ihretwegen (for/because of you)

meinetwegen literally means because of me - e.g., 'Seid ihr nur meinetwegen hier gekommen' (did you come here only because of me?), but in everyday speech has the meaning see if I care, as far as I'm concerned, or I couldn't care less. It's a 'perfect' response when you are a teenager and want to frustrate your parents - otherwise, you should avoid this term. Whatever!

Relativpronomen

Relative pronouns are used generally for stylistic purposes; they help eliminate redundancy (of nouns) and connect ideas more smoothly.

Rotkäppchen Mutti, du kannst mich gerne auslachen, wenn du willst, aber ein neues grammatisches Geschlecht, mit dem ich mich endlich als Frau fühlen könnte, ist mir sehr wichtig! Mom you can laugh at me all you want, but a new grammatical gender, with which I could finally feel like a woman, is very important to me!
nominative accusative dative genitive
masculine der den dem dessen
feminine die die der deren
neutral das das dem dessen
plural die die denen deren
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