"Ihr" or "Sie"?

I was under the impression that when speaking to a stranger you would refer to them as "Sie", and that when speaking to a group of people, you would refer to them as "ihr".

However, I'm watching some youtube videos, where a guy is playing a game (in German) to help boost my learning. Whenever a character speaks to him they use "ihr" and vice versa whenever he speaks to a character (these characters are strangers too).

Dialogue such "Und ihr seid?" or "Ihr habt...." would be used.

Why is this? This has slightly confused me.

June 22, 2016


You would write this old and very formal "Ihr" with a uppercase "I" (also the other forms "Euch"/"Euer"). It is not used in any modern day conversations anymore; like the English "thou". But if you play a game with medieval characters (which I guess this guy does) the old forms are, well, authentic. There are some similar adressates that are not used anymore and sound a bit funny when used today. For example: "Ihro Gnaden" spoken to somebody higher up but still sometimes disrespectful somehow, "er/sie" instead of "du" when talking with somebody of lower status, "wir" instead of "ich" pluralis majestics and so on.

I hope I could be of help.

June 22, 2016

damn, your response perfectly solved my doubt.

April 16, 2018

If you speak to a group of strangers, you'd use "Sie" as well (it can be used for addressing one person or several people):
Und Sie sind...? Und Sie haben...? (sing. plural)

"Ihr" is the informal version (plural "du"). However, I have the feeling that it is "easier" to address a group of strangers with "ihr" than to adress one stranger with "du".

Addressing one person as "Ihr" is not common in current German, but it was a formal way of addressing people in former times.

EDIT: Corrected "ihr" to "Ihr" in my last paragraph - thanks, person243, for the hint.

June 22, 2016

Thanks guys that clears a lot up. You're right, the game is set in a fantasy/medieval setting - so they used "Ihr " to match the setting.

June 22, 2016

Related Discussions

Learn German in just 5 minutes a day. For free.