What is a subject pronoun?
A subject pronoun is a word such as I, you, he etc. It refers to a person or a thing that performs an action. A subject pronoun is linked to a verb, and in most cases the verb will follow it directly.
ich bin ⇨ I am
du bist ⇨ you are
er ist ⇨ he is
You can now learn even more on this topic with the help of a fun animation and a grammar quiz. Simply check out our Meet and Greet Module in level A1.
Table: German Subject Pronouns
|2nd person||du / Sie||you (informal) / you (formal)|
|3rd person||er / sie / es||he / she / it|
|2nd person||ihr / Sie||you (informal) / you (formal)|
You – du, ihr and Sie
In German, there are three ways of saying you. The informal word is du in the singular and ihr in the plural. In the formal form both, singular and plural, are Sie. If you want to find out more about this read our blog When to use Sie, du and ihr.
He, she and it – er, sie and es
In English we mainly refer to things as it.
I love this book. It is very good.
However, in German, er (he, it), sie (she, it) and es (it) are mainly used to refer to things, animals and people. Er is used for masculine nouns, sie is used for feminine nouns and es is used for neuter nouns.
Der Film ist gut. ⇨ Er ist gut. – The movie is good. ⇨ It‘s good.
Die Musik ist gut. ⇨ Sie ist gut. – The music is good. ⇨ It‘s good.
Das Buch ist gut. ⇨ Es ist gut. – The book is good. ⇨ It‘s good.
You – man
The subject pronoun man is used in the same way as we use you to mean people in general.
Man kann das Auto kaufen. ⇨ You can buy that car.
Note: German subject pronouns only have a capital letter when they begin the sentence. The only exception to this is the polite pronoun Sie which always begins with a capital S.
Wie heißt du? ⇨ What’s your name? (informal)
Wie heißen Sie? ⇨ What’s your name? (formal)
Let’s have a look at the subject pronouns in connection with the German verb sein – to be. Below you can see how this important verb is formed according to its subject pronouns. Note that “Sie” (the formal you) and “sie” (meaning they) are formed in the same way. That’s why we have placed them on the same row.
Table: sein – to be
|Pronoun||sein (to be)||Completed Form||Meaning|
|ich||bin||ich bin||I am|
|du||bist||du bist||you are|
|er / sie / es||ist||er / sie / es ist||he / she / it is|
|wir||sind||wir sind||we are|
|ihr||seid||ihr seid||you are|
|sie / Sie||sind||sie / Sie sind||they / you are|
Ich bin aus München. ⇨ I’m from Munich.
Wie alt bist du? ⇨ How old are you?
Er ist 9 Jahre alt. ⇨ He is 9 years old.
Wir sind beide 21. ⇨ We are both 21.
Seid ihr aus Lübeck? ⇨ Are you from Lübeck?
Sie sind aus Berlin. ⇨ They are from Berlin.
Wie alt sind Sie? ⇨ How old are you?