German pronouns


German pronouns

German pronouns of the first person refer to the speaker; those of the second person refer to an addressed person. The pronouns of the third person may be used to replace nominal phrases. These have the same gender, number and case as the original nominal phrase. This goes for other pronouns, too.

pronoun position(s) selbst relative clause

In German, a pronoun may have a position under certain circumstances. First and second person pronouns usually do not, except in poetical or informal contexts.

:"Das im Schrank" ("the thing in the cupboard"):"Das auf dem Tisch" ("the thing on the table")

In today's German, pronouns are rarely used in the genitive case. Instead, a German user usually uses the corresponding possessive article ("see" German grammar#The genitive attribute).

:"Der Knochen des Hundes" - "Sein Knochen" or "Dessen Knochen" ("the dog's bone, its bone")

In formal, archaic German, there are genitive objects, just like accusative and dative objects. Since the personal pronoun does not have a genitive form, the third person genitive plural of the possessive pronoun is applied in those cases. These forms are bracketed.

:OLD: "Ich erinnere mich ihrer" (MODERN: "Ich erinnere mich an sie.") ("I remember her"):OLD: "Ich erinnere mich seiner" (MODERN: "Ich erinnere mich an ihn."):OLD: "Ich entsinne mich ihrer" (Don't use this) ("I recall her")

The emphasizers "selber" and "selbst" have a slightly different meaning than if used with nominal phrases. They normally emphasize the pronoun, but if they are applied to a reflexive pronoun, they emphasize its reflexive meaning.

Personal pronouns

The relative pronoun is NEVER omitted in German. That is to say, in English, the phrase

"The person coming around the corner is a thief."

completely neglects the use of a relative pronoun. To say such a thing in German, one would say

"Die Person, die um die Ecke kommt, ist ein Dieb."

The use of "die" within the middle set of words, the relative clause, is the equivalent of saying "who" within a relative clause in English, so as to say "The person, who is coming around the corner, is a thief." ("See" relative clauses).

Demonstrative pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns are used to refer to something already defined.

diese (this, the former)jene (that, the latter)erstere (the former):Use "ersterer" to refer to masculine nouns; "erstere" otherwiseletztere (the latter):Use "letzterer" to refer to masculine nouns; "letztere" otherwisederjenige (the one):Declined like [def. art] + [jenig-] + weak adj. ending::Used to identify a noun to be further identified in a relative clause.derselbe (the same):Declined like [def. art] + [selb-] + weak adj. ending::Used to indicate an identity stronger than "der gleiche" would.

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