Languages › German The German Word 'ihr' Is an Article and a Pronoun Share Flipboard Email Print The German Pronouns and Articles can be Quite Confusing. Joerg Fockenberg / EyeEm @getty-images German Grammar History & Culture Pronunciation & Conversation Vocabulary By Michael Schmitz German Language Expert M.A., German as a Foreign Language, Technical University of Berlin M.A., Turkology Humanities, Freie Universität of Berlin Michael Schmitz is the author of How to Learn German Faster and the creator of smarterGerman, an online language learning program. our editorial process Michael Schmitz Updated May 15, 2018 Often at times German learners are confused about „ihr“ (and friends). No wonder because entering „ihr“ into google translate provides us with the following list: hertheiryour (Sir/Ma’am)to heryou-all If I have five options to choose from in any other than my native language, I’d be confused too. Luckily I grew up with German. But you probably have not been so fortunate (from a language learning point of view of course) so let me bring some light into your darkness. The problem is the missing awareness regarding the differences between an article and a pronoun. If I segregate the above list of possible translations into these two categories things will get a bit clearer already: Article Pronoun her (car) to her (can’t put „car“ here their (car) you all (can’t put „car“ here) your (Sir/Ma’am) A few examples: Ihre Mutter kommt am Wochenende zu Besuch. Her / Their / Your mother comes to visit this weekend. > Notice that there’s no difference in „ihre“ whether you say „her“, „their“ or „your“. Ich gebe ihr einen Kuss. I give her a kiss > There is no noun after „ihr“ Ihr könnt hier nicht bleiben. You (people) can’t stay here. > There is no noun after „ihr“ If you are able to distinguish an article from a pronoun, you improve your chances of making the right choice. Do you know what the difference between these two is? An article is never on it’s own. It is always (!) accompanied by a noun (words that can have a „the“ in front of them like „the car“). Articles come in various forms: der, ein-, mein-, dies-, welch-, kein-A pronoun stands pro-noun i.e. for a noun which means that it makes any noun redundant. With „ihr“ this is a bit tricky but let me take another pronoun to illustrate this. „sein Auto“ vs „ihn" his car him (car?) Testing your understanding Can you identify the pronouns and the articles in the following sentences? Sie fragte ihren Mann nach seiner Meinung. Aber ihr Mann antwortete ihr nicht. She asked her husband for his opinion. But her husband didn’t answer her. [Scroll down to the end of this article to find the answer.] Did you find all pronouns and articles? Good. Then let’s move on. Endings Now what’s with the endings? Articles as well as pronouns can have endings and those depend on the noun that they are accompanying or replacing. Two examples: Kennst du ihren Mann? Do you know her husband? Nein, ihren kenne ich nicht, aber deinen. No, hers I don’t know, but yours. You will have noticed that the article „ihren (Mann)“ as well as the pronoun „ihren“ do both have the same ending as they both refer to „Mann“. Grammatically speaking „Mann“ is masculine and stands in the accusative case. But looking at the English translation you will realize that there is a clear difference between those as a comparison of „her“ and „hers“ show. So far it even seems that it doesn’t matter at all whether we have an article in front of us or a pronoun. That calls for one more example: Magst du ihr Auto? Do you like her car? Nein, ihres mag ich nicht, aber deins. No, hers I don’t like, but yours. And now we finally have a difference. The following table should illustrate the differences in another form: Article Pronoun masculine ihr.x Mann ihrer neuter ihr.x Auto ihres feminine ihre Freundin ihre plural ihre Freundinnen ihre Another interesting observation is that a pronoun always has an article ending while an article at times doesnt (ihr.x Mann). This is due to the fact that there are three cases in which there is no ending at the end of an article: masc. neuter feminine plural Nominative ein ein Accusative ein Dative Genitive In these three cases the following articles do not get an ending: ein, mein (and all articles of the same family: dein, sein, ihr, unser, euer, ihr), kein In all other cases they always have an ending which corresponds with those of the pronouns. Summary To summarize: articles and pronouns often look alike and can only be distinguished by their companion or a lack of it.article- and pronoun endings only differ in three cases (see last table)pronouns replace a noun and therefore are never found directly next to a noun This video helps you a bit with the basic (personal) pronouns, "er", "es" and "sie". Lösung from above: Sie (=pronoun) fragte ihren Mann (=article) nach seiner Meinung (=article). Aber ihr Mann (=article) antwortete ihr (=pronoun) nicht.