Difference between sie (She) and sie (they) in German.

Does anyone know cause I am confused!

August 4, 2017


Verb example: Trinken

sie = she = sie trinkt

sie = they = sie trinken

Sie = you (formal) Sie trinken

August 4, 2017

so there are three 'sie'? but dont they and you(formal) have the same form of verb?

August 4, 2017

Yes, but you (formal) is always capital.

August 4, 2017

yes it all good in writing but what about when someone is speaking. How do you tell the difference then?

August 4, 2017

From context.

''Sie hat'' = She has. ''Sie haben'' = They have. ''Sie haben'' = You have. (formal/polite/nonfamiliar)

You can know it from the verb usage, or from the context; if you speak to an older person, or hear someone doing it to another, then you know they mean the third one.

August 4, 2017

Yes they do! Good observation.

And yes, Sie (formal you) is always capitalized.

August 4, 2017

Thanks Bob20020; you beat me to it! :)

August 4, 2017

If one is using pronouns, you will likely already know what the person is referring to. For example, if I have been talking about my mother, then switch to "sie," your brain will automatically assume that I am talking about my mother still. It seems abstract on Duolingo because of how the system is set up, but it clicks in real life.

August 4, 2017

JOAT2B and Bob20020 are correct.

For example:

Sie hat ein = She has one
Sie haben ein = They have one

August 4, 2017

The best way to tell is by the verb conjugation.

August 4, 2017

can you give an example

August 4, 2017

Sprichst du Deutsch? Do you speak German? (Informal)

Sprecht ihr Deutsch? Do you speak German? Informal, Plural

Spricht sie Deutsch? Does she speak German?

Sprechen Sie Deutsch? Do you speak German? ( Formal)

Sprechen sie Deutsch? Do they speak German? Plural)

It all comes down to the context. If you're talking to one or more elderly women and ask all of them whether they speak German you've been formal to more than one woman. Sprechen/Können Sie Deutsch?

If you're talking to one elderly woman you've "siezed" one woman. Sprechen/Können Sie Deutsch?

if you're in a mall and you start to wonder whether that group of people in the corner speak German you'd say something along the line: Was denkst du? Sprechen/Können sie Deutsch?

Trust me ... when you're in that situation you will know what "sie" people are talking about =) Easy as pie.

In English it's the same ... Do you know them? You're talking to one guy. Do you know them? You're talking to a group. Your highness, do you know them? You#re talking to the queen :D

August 8, 2017

Yeah, the first thing I notice or think of is verb conjugations and sentence context.

August 4, 2017

That helped. Thanks a lot guys.

August 5, 2017

Luckily the difference becomes more apparent when using the dative case:

Wie geht's ihr? (How is she doing?)

Wie geht's Ihnen? (How are you doing?) formal

Wie geht's ihnen? (How are they doing?) Ok, so the same problem there when speaking but you will understand depending on the context


August 6, 2017

ihr also means 'she'? I thought it only meant 'you'.

August 7, 2017

ihr can mean "(to) her" -- it's the dative case of sie.

August 8, 2017

As mizinamo pointed out, technically "ihr" would be translated as "to/for her" in the dative case. The dative case of she (ihr) is used in certain contexts and with certain verbs. Take "helfen" (to help) for instance. You always use the dative case with this verb. "Ich habe ihr geholfen" (I helped her).

Wie geht's ihr? would be literally translated to "How is it going for her?".

You use "ihr" when the woman in question is not the direct object of the sentence, such as "Ich liebe sie" (I love her), but rather the indirect object in the sentence: "Ich schicke ihr einen Brief" (I send a letter to her).

As you can see, "she" and "her" are used differently in German versus English. Many German-learners find this to be quite confusing in the beginning (myself included). But of course once you know that some verbs simply dictate that you use the dative case and you can easily identify the direct/indirect objects in a sentence, it becomes quite easy.

Hope that helps!

August 8, 2017

yes thank you :)

August 9, 2017
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