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Including pronouns with verbs

Hello! I'm just starting to learn German so fairly basic question here:

Do we need to include the pronouns with conjugated verbs? For example, can "Ich bin Mann" be shortened to "bin Mann"? or "Du trinkst Wasser" to "Trinkst Wasser"?

I am more familiar with Spanish, where I know this is possible, but from my research, German is more closely related to English, where this isn't very common.

Thanks ahead for the help!

May 23, 2017



Generally, yes, you need the pronouns. German isn't a null-subject language. There'd be some issues of ambiguity when leaving them out, like if you say "Gehen ins Kino." Who is? Are we? Are they? Are (formally) you? If it's in text and lacking intonation, is this a statement or a question where you forgot the question mark?

You may see times when people omit them in very informal speech, like when replying to a question and the subject is obvious and relatively unambiguous (Wo gehst du? [Ich] Gehe ins Kino.) or, as I just read somewhere while fact-checking myself, when asking a very direct question, (Kaufst [du] es?) but I don't know how frequently such things are used, and they may be colloquial. To me, though, as a non-native learner of a few years, it sounds weird to omit the pronoun, especially in the second example.


Yes, you need the subjects.

I think it's because it could be a variety of different subjects. You aren't at this level yet, but some verbs with the present tense in the "ich" form are nearly the same to verbs in the subjunctive/imperative "er/sie/es" forms. Just to avoid confusion, always use the subject.

You can also cut some words short (not on Duolingo because it calls it an error) like "Ich trinke" can be "Ich trink'" or "wir spielen" can be "wir spiel'n". I recommend using the full verb for a long while until you're familiar with the language, then you can cut it short. It's really only done like that in speech though. Write out the whole word when writing.


No, the subject can be omitted only in "telegraphese" or "headline language" -- not in normal sentences.

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