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Subject Pronouns

Pronouns replace nouns that have been previously mentioned in a phrase/sentence or are understood based on a given context. These pronouns are separated into 3 types: first person, second person, and third person. Each type has both a singular and plural pronoun.



First Person

ich wir

Second Person

du ihr

Third Person

er, sie, es, man Sie, sie

The first person singular and plural operate essentially the same way in German as they do in English and thus correspond to “I” and “we.” Some of the other pronouns have slightly different functions when compared to their English counterparts:

I. Formality: Du vs. Sie

Saying “you” is a little more involved in German. There are two ways: the second person singular pronoun du is used to address one person informally, and the third person plural pronoun Sie is used to address one person formally.

The first thing you must ask yourself is if you would address the person formally (with Sie) or informally (with du). Colleagues, friends, children, and most family members would be addressed informally. However, to be on the safe side, it’s best to address strangers, superiors at work, and elders formally. Note that the formal Sie is always capitalized.

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