German Possessive Pronouns

Instructor: Samantha Green

Sam is from the UK but lives in the USA, she has taught college German and has both a bachelor's and master's degree in German Studies

Ever bicker with siblings, cousins or the kids next door? When they played with your toy did you argue and say it was 'yours' by saying 'hey, that's mine'? To do this you all have to use possessive pronouns. Learn more about these in this lesson.

The Possessive Pronouns

Alex is staying with his family while he is studying in Germany for a semester. He has two small cousins who are constantly bickering. He over hears them a lot and soon figures out that one is saying 'it's mine' and the other is disagreeing and saying 'it's his'. He soon realizes he's not sure how to do this in German so he takes a lesson on possessive pronouns.

The possessive pronouns are the words we use to show possession. Unlike possessive adjectives, they do not proceed a noun, but replace it.

For example this is a possessive adjective sentence:

  • Das ist mein Stift! (That's my pencil)

Whereas this is a possessive pronoun sentence:

  • Nein, er ist meinen! (No, its mine)

Basic Forms

Before Alex can learn how to use the possessive pronouns, he needs to know what they are. Here is a quick look at the basic form of the German possessive pronouns:

Pronoun Possessive
Pronunciation English
ich mein miyn mine
du dein diyn yours
er sein siyn his
sie ihr ihr hers
es sein siyn its
wir unser UHNS-ur ours
ihr euer OY-uhr yours
sie ihr ihr theirs
Sie Ihr ihr yours

The possessive pronouns are what is known as der words. This means they have to take the same endings as their corresponding definite article. These endings are dependent on the gender and number of the noun the possessive pronoun is replacing, and which case the noun belongs to.

Here are the possessive pronouns again, this time in the three cases (there are no possessive pronouns in the genitive case), featuring their endings.

Nominative/der Nominativ

The nominative case is used to mark the subject of a sentence. In the nominative case possessive pronouns have an 'er' ending for masculine, an 'e' ending for the feminine and plural, and an 's' or 'es' ending for neutral.

Masculine Feminine Neuter Plural
meiner meine meins meine
deiner deine deins deine
seiner seine seins seine
ihrer ihre ihr(e)s ihre
seiner seine seins seine
unserer unsere unseres unsere
eurer eure eures eure
ihrer ihre ihr(e)s ihre
Ihrer Ihre Ihr(e)s Ihre

Whose jacket is this?

  • Das ist ihre. (It's hers)

Whose pencil is this?

  • Das ist meiner.' (It's mine)

Whose house is that?

  • Das ist unseres. (It's ours)

Accusative/der Akkusativ

The accusative case is used to mark the direct object of a sentence. In the accusative case possessive pronouns have an 'en' ending for the masculine, an 's' or 'es' for the neutral, and an 'e' ending for the feminine and plural.

Masculine Feminine Neuter Plural
meinen meine meins meine
deinen deine deins deine
seinen seine seins seine
ihren ihre ihr(e)s ihre
seinen seine seins seine
unseren unsere unseres unsere
euren eure eures eure
ihren ihre ihres ihre
Ihren Ihre Ihres Ihre

Hans forgot his pen at home:

  • Hans hat seinen zu Hause vergessen. (Hans left his at home).

Sarah and Hanna are searching for Hanna's keys, Sarah finds a set:

  • Sind sie deine? (Are these yours?)

Someone is searching for a jacket, you find a one on your chair and ask your friend:

  • Ist sie seine? (Is it his?)

Dative/der Dativ

The dative case is used to mark the indirect object of a sentence. In the dative case possessive pronouns have an 'em' ending for the masculine and neuter, an 'er' ending for the feminine, and 'en' ending for the plural.

Masculine Feminine Neuter Plural
meinem meiner meinem meinen
deinem deiner deinem deinen
seinem seiner seinem seinen
ihrem ihrer ihrem ihren
seinem seiner seinem seinen
unserem unserer unserem unseren
eurem eurer eurem euren
ihrem ihrer ihrem ihren
Ihrem Ihrer Ihrem Ihren

It's take your dog to work day, but your friend doesn't have one. You tell her:

  • Du kannst mit meinem hingehen. (You can go with mine)

Clara's bed is super uncomfortable. Her host mom tells her she can sleep on her daughter's bed while she's away:

  • Du kannst auf ihrem schlafen. (You can sleep on hers)

You still live with your parents and want to know if your new friend does the same:

  • Lebst du noch bei deinen? (Do you still live with yours?)

Choosing a Possessive Pronoun

To use a possessive pronoun you need to first of all choose the correct words for whom the thing belongs to, i.e. is it his, hers, yours, mine etc.

Then concentrate on the noun that is being replaced - the thing you are referring to. Decide its gender, its number (singular or plural), and the role it plays in the sentence that will allow you to discern its case.

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