This is because the verb helfen (hilft) always uses the dative case.
There are quite a few verbs like this to watch out for. You can find out if a verb is dative by searching a dictionary like leo.org or dict.cc. The verb will show "jdm" (jamendem) in the definition if it is dative.
There is a list of common dative verbs here: http://german.about.com/library/verbs/blverb_dativ.htm
If you look at a pronoun grammar table you will see that the only dative form of "ihr" translates to "her". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_pronouns
Duo told me 'ihr' when capitalised i.e. "Ihr" means "you", otherwise its her...
Bit more complicated than that. See here.
"There are four "sies" and four "ihrs"
Almost every student of mine seems to have trouble initially with "ihr". One theory of mine is that this is due to the other two "ihr"s. Take a look at the following examples: "Hey, kommt ihr heute Abend?" = "Are you guys coming tonight?" "Ist das nicht ihr neuer Freund?" = "Isn't that her new friend?" "Entschuldigen Sie. Ist das Ihr Auto vor meiner Ausfahrt?" = "Excuse me, is that your car in front of my driveway, Sir / Madam?" (note that the "Ihr" is capitalized as it's formal) "Entschuldigen Sie. Ist das Ihr Auto vor meiner Ausfahrt?" = "Excuse me, is that your car in front of my driveway, Sirs / Madams?"
Three more examples for "sie/Sie" "Woher kommen Sie?" = "Where are you from, sir / madam?" "Woher kommen Sie?" = "Where are you from, sirs / madams?" "Woher kommt sie?" = "Where is she from?" "Woher kommen sie?" = "Where are they from?" **
Ihr does mean you sometimes. Can someone explain the grammar behind this?
Sure. You have
er which is the Nominativ or subject form of
he. You also have the verb
hilft, and you have
er is the subject who is helping,
ihr must be the person who is receiving help.
Helfen is a verb from which you can recognise words that are in the Dativ case, which in this case is
Personal pronouns like the plural informal
you change depending on the case they are in. In Nominativ, you would use
ihr, in Genetiv
euer and in Dativ and Akkusativ you would use
euch. The Nominativ form of
sie, Genetiv is
ihrer, Dativ is
ihr and Akkusativ is
Ihr can be translated as
you, but only if it is the subject, which isn't the case here.
You're right, grammar is hard. That is also why I don't like learning through grammar. I think that you will learn to understand the grammar behind sentences if you practise them often enough. Once you have a feeling for the language, you can look at the grammar to see why you do the things you've learned to do.
With all due respect, I don't think figuring out grammar by practicing tons of sentences is the most effective way. Grammar has to be learned gradually, this way it is not as hard and every sentence reinforces what you have learned instead of confusing you. I remember trying to read in French before I learned all the basic grammar. I skipped most endings and guessed the meaning of sentences by the words' roots. When I realised this, I put off reading for a while, and when I returned to it after having learned all the major tenses, it felt much better. I read and thought, like, aha, here it the subjunctive, of course it has to be here! I think it would take years to get the "feel" of language without learning grammar.
As for the cases, I think the best way is to have some tables at hand and get at least an initial understanding on what cases are before practicing the sentences.
Thank you for your comment olimo. You will probably agree that everybody learns in a different way and your views are much appreciated as my comment might have seemed a little extreme. You're totally right that grammar should be acquired gradually and it wasn't my intention to say that you could just repeat some random sentences. Duolingo also teaches through repetition but it teaches things step by step and allows you to learn through practise instead of learning through theory. This method works really well for me and you might not believe it, but I wasn't always fond of German.
I've studied German for six years and I couldn't say a thing afterwards nor did I remember much of the rules I learned. My conversational abilities have improved a little since I started practising them through other methods, but I still have to double check before I answer grammar questions. You're welcome to enjoy grammar learning, but I think that grammar is one of the main reasons why most people think that it's hard and boring to learn a language. It would be a shame if people stopped learning a language because of the grammar before they could enjoy the experience of using it. For instance, you might still have enjoyed your reading if you weren't concerned about the fact that you didn't know all the rules.
You don't have to agree with me if you enjoy reading from a linguistic perspective, but I think that it can actually be nice to figure out the meaning of a text. It helps to start small and to have some prior knowledge of a language but that doesn't stop me from enjoying my reading even if I have to use a dictionary from time to time.
You are right, of course, everyone learns in his own way :-)
As for German, I love Duolingo's course because I can't see any other method that would keep me motivated to practice so much and drill all the cases and articles really well. I learned German at school for five years and never used the cases correctly because nobody cared. Here I can't ignore them.
My favorite method of learning is using different resources that complement each other. This way I am almost never overwhelmed with too much new information and learn the similar topics from different points of view.
From a few lessons back, I noted someone mentioning that danken & helfen were dative verbs. So instead of the accusative pronouns, I use the dative pronouns. I hope I understood that correctly. if so, are there other dative verbs?
Please correct this "ihr" does not mean "they" which would be "sie" with a small 's'. "sie" can also mean "she" but the verb endings are different for "sie" used as "they" and "sie" used as "she".
So "ihr" when used in the Nominative case (as subject or predicate nominative) means the familiar plural version of "you".
When "she" is used as the object of a verb that takes the German Dative case the Nominative "sie" becomes Dative "ihr". When the familiar plural "you" is used in the Nominative case it is "ihr", but when it is used as the object of a verb that takes the German Dative case it is "euch". When "they" is used in the Nominative case it is "sie" but "they" becomes "ihnen" in Dative case.
Here is a list of German pronouns in Nominative case: http://german.about.com/library/anfang/blanfang02.htm
Here is an explanation of the German Dative case: http://german.about.com/library/blcase_dat.htm
Here is a table of the German pronouns in each of their case forms, including Dative: http://german.about.com/library/blcase_sum2.htm
Here are lists of German verbs which require Dative objects instead of Accusative.: http://german.about.com/library/verbs/blverb_dativ.htm http://german.about.com/library/verbs/blverb_dativ2.htm
Here are lists of German prepositions which require Dative objects.: http://german.about.com/library/blcase_dat2.htm
Wow, I really mixed things up at that time. Maybe I started off with translating one thing and then jumped to another without realising the inconsistency. It is really scary how many positive votes that comment had. Thank you for pointing out my error. I hope it makes more sense now.
The person wasn't even asking about 'they' :(
I always get confused between er an ihr because they sound so similar. At least when they are together here, I can sort of tell a difference.
Er sounds a bit like "air" and ihr sounds a bit like "ear". So that's something to pay attention to. Hopefully this helps anyone else if they're also having a bit trouble distinguishing them.
Because helfen is a dative verb. Please read my comment above, and many others on this subject.