Possessive pronouns

If something belongs to you, you’ll need to use a possessive pronoun. Possessive pronouns (Possessivpronomen) are pronouns that show that something belongs to someone.

In English, we have two forms: the possessive adjective and the possessive pronoun. You can see the difference in the table below:

Possessive AdjectivePossessive Pronoun
mymine
youryours
his, her, itshis, her, its
ourours
youryours
theirtheirs

Example:

That’s my book. (Possessive adjective)
The book is mine. (Possessive pronoun)

As you can see, a possessive adjective comes before the noun, while possessive pronouns are used after the noun.

Possessive pronouns in German

Unfortunately, in German, things are a lot more complicated. Unlike English, we don’t just have one form for possessive adjectives and possessive pronouns but three types of each – three tree types of possessive adjectives and three types of possessive pronouns. And the worst of all: they all have different endings depending on the grammatical gender of the word that they are referring to.

If you would like to get a first glance at the whole mess, then take a look at the two tables below, which summarize all possible forms of possessive adjectives and possessive pronouns in German:

Possessive Adjectives

NominativDativAkkusativ
ichmein (m. / n.)
meine (f. / pl.)
meinem (m. / n.)
meiner (f.)
meinen (pl.)
meinen (m. / n.)
meine (f. / pl.)
dudein (m. / n.)
deine (f. / pl.)
deinem (m. / n.)
deiner (f.)
deinen (pl.)
deinen (m. / n.)
deine (f. / pl.)
er, sie, essein (m. / n.)
seine (f. / pl.)


ihr (m. /n.)
ihre (f. /pl.)
seinem (m. / n.)
seiner (f.)
seinen (pl.)


ihrem (m. /n.)
ihrer (f.)
ihren (pl.)
seinen (m. / n.)
seine (f. / pl.)

ihren (m. /n.)
ihre (f. /pl.)
wirunser (m. / n.)
unsere (f. / pl.)
unserem (m. / n.)
unserer (f.)
unseren (pl.)
unseren (m. / n.)
unsere (f. / pl.)
ihreuer (m. / n.)
eure (f. / pl.)
eurem (m. / n.)
eurer (f.)
euren (pl.)
euren (m. / n.)
eure (f. / pl.)
sieihr (m. / n.)
ihre (f. / pl.)
ihrem (m. / n.)
ihrer (f.)
ihren (pl.)
ihren (m. / n.)
ihre (f. / pl.)

Possessive pronouns

NominativDativAkkusativ
ichmeiner (m.)
meine (f. / pl.)
meins (n.
meinem (m. /n.)
meiner (f.)
meinen (pl.)
meinen (m.)
meine (f. / pl.)
meins (n.)
dudeiner (m.)
deine (f. / pl.
deins (n.)
deinem (m. /n.)
deiner (f.)
deinen (pl.)
deinen (m.)
deine (f. / pl.)
deins (n.)
er, sie, esseiner (m.)
seine (f. / pl.)
seins (n.)


ihrer (m.)
ihre (f. /pl.)
ihrs (n.)
seinem (m. /n.)
seiner (f.)
seinen (pl.)


ihrem (m. /n.)
ihrer (f.)
ihren (pl.)
seinen (m.)
seine (f. / pl.)
seins (n.)


ihren (m.)
ihre (f. / pl.)
ihrs (n.)
wirunserer (m.)
unsere (f. / pl.)
unseres (n.)
unserem (m. /n.)
unserer (f.)
unseren (pl.)
unseren (m.)
unsere (f. / pl.)
unseres (n.)
ihreurer (m.)
eure (f. / pl.)
eures (n.)
eurem (m. /n.)
eurer (f.)
euren (pl.)
euren (m.)
eure (f. / pl.)
euers (n.)
sieihr (m.)
ihre (f. / pl.)
ihrs (n.)
ihrem (m. /n.)
ihrer (f.)
ihren (pl.)
ihren (m.)
ihre (f. / pl.)
ihrs (n.)

Ok, so far so complicated. Let’s make sense out of all of that!

First of all, just like in English, we use possessive adjectives in front of a noun and possessive pronouns after a noun.

Example:

Das ist mein Auto. (Possessive adjective)
This is my car.

Das Auto ist meins. (Possessive pronoun)
The car is mine.

Now the three forms – Nominativ, Dativ and Akkusativ come down to the part of the sentence that they are referring to. Do they refer to the subject, the direct object or the indirect object?

If the pronouns or adjective refers to the subject we use the Nominativ, like in the sentences:

“Er ist mein Onkel. / He is my uncle.” (Nominativ)
“Der Apfel ist meiner. / The apple is mine. (Nominativ)

If, however, the pronoun refers to the indirect object, we use the Dativ, like in the sentences:

“Ich gebe meinem Onkel das Buch.” / “I’m giving the book to my uncle.” (Dativ)
“Ich hätte gerne etwas von seinem.” / “I’d like some of his.” (Dativ)

Finally, if the pronoun refers to a direct object, we use the Akkusativ, like in the sentences:

“Ich werde erst meine Frau fragen müssen.” / “I’ll first have to ask my wife.” (Akkusativ)
“Ich nehme meinen.” / I’ll take mine.” (Akkusativ)

Don’t worry

I know, all of this might seem a little intimidating at first. And I’m not going to lie to you: This is probably one of the hardest things in German compared to other languages, but even if you make a mistake here, people will usually understand you.

The most important thing is that you know the Nominativ forms so:

  • mein
  • dein
  • sein / ihr
  • unser
  • euer
  • ihr

These are definitely the most important ones and everything else derives from them, which is why people will usually understand you, even if you use the wrong ending – as long as you use the right grammatical person.

Don’t worry! It is the first step that is always difficult. But with enough practice, I’m sure that you will make it.

Stay tuned for more articles about this and other grammar topics for learning German!

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