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  5. "How is she?"

"How is she?"

Translation:Wie geht es ihr?

October 28, 2017



Ihr normally is you plural, and sie for the feminine. Please explain


Learning German pronouns (what all these little words are called) for the first time is full of such moments of confusion. The problem comes from trying to memorise individual word translations instead of understanding the grammar. I'll try to explain.

Firstly, here is a table of all the personal pronouns in German. You may want to copy it down into your notes, as you will refer to it many times during your studies until you have it memorised. Even if you don't understand what the headings all mean - they will become clear with time.

You will notice that the same words, or variants of them, appear in multiple locations. This is the source of the confusion. For example, ihr can mean "you", as you have learnt. It can also mean "she" or "her" depending on the sentence grammar... or even "their". It can also mean "your" if capitalised! And there are other meanings... Oh gosh. But forget trying to learn such individual-word translations.

By now you will have realised that you need to change the ending of verbs, depending on who is doing something. For example, ich sehe but du siehst. Grammatically, this changing-the-ending-of-verbs is called conjugation. When you have two pronouns in the sentence, the question is which pronoun do you conjugate the verb to? This is where we are introduced to the concept of case. The first case we learn is nominative case, kind of the default. When we learn such simple examples as ich sehe and du siehst, we say that ich and du are in nominative case (also called the subject). You can then learn the rule that the verb conjugates to the nominative bit.

Back to your question: In the example ihr habt Brot = "you (all) have bread", ihr is in nominative case. We can see this because the verb conjugates to it (using ihr as "you (all)" usually has a distinct conjugation of the verb).

The second case is called accusative case. It's kind of the second case that you put something into once nominative is already occupied. When you have a sentence like "I see you", "I" is the nominative (subject) part, and "you" is the accusative part, also called the object. From that table earlier, you should be able to find the accusative version of "you", which lets us make the sentence ich sehe dich. With the other versions of "you" in German, we could also have ich sehe euch if speaking to multiple people informally, or ich sehe Sie if speaking formally. You won't find ihr in the accusative section.

The other place ihr turns up is in the dative case. You can consider dative case to be the third case, but which in certain exceptions can also be the 'second case'. The normal function of dative case is for example "I (nominative) give an apple (accusative) to you (dative)". German uses different cases for "you" and "an apple" in this example, to make it clear that I'm not giving you to an apple (i.e. mixing up the action). However, we need to memorise that the phrase "How is X doing?" uses dative case in German. The literal explanation for this is that it's really saying "How is it (accusative) going to you (dative)?".

So making the sentence "How is she?" in German does not use any of the pronouns in the "nominative" or "accusative" section - we need the dative. We can then look up the dative equivalent of sie and we find that it is ihr.

Other dative examples with ihr:
ich gebe ihr einen Apfel = "I give her an apple" (normal usage of dative)
was hast du ihr gegeben? = "what did you give her?" (normal usage of dative)
ich helfe ihr = "I help her" (exception usage of dative)

Other nominative examples with ihr:
ihr seid laut = "you (all) are loud"
was habt ihr gemacht? = "what have you (all) done?"

Hopefully that makes it clear! But if you have questions or want to try out your understanding and write some example sentences of your own, I'd be happy to reply further.


Not able to open the link in the app.


vielen dank :)


Thank you very much . It was very helpful


Well, that's just wonderful! The problem is that the Dative case has not yet been introduced at this level - it will be covered two major sections from now. Nothing like quizzing us on 3rd grade material when we are in kindergarten!!!!


Excellent, thanks. Unfortunately, I can't open the link though.


Thank you very much! The link works fine in the pc.


Dear az_p, THANK YOU! Yours is, without a doubt, the clearest, simplest explanation of any grammar issue that I have come across on Duolingo to date. Finally, I am getting the hang of it. If you aren't a teacher, you should be!


why can't it be "Wie ist sie?"


German doesn't have the concept of "how is X?" = "how are things going for X?" Instead, to achieve that meaning, you say: "how goes it [for] X?" Which is: "wie geht es X?" In order to indicate the [for], you use the dative case, and "sie" is "ihr" in that case. Hence: "wie geht es ihr?"

Hope that helps!


That helps a ton, thanks!


Thanks a lot for explaining that clear up a lot of problems :)


Dear az_p, could you please redo the link to your pronoun chart so that we can open it? I think it would be a great help.


The word “sie”, German for “she” (and “they”), isn’t even a choice. “How is her?” doesn’t make any sense. However, if the phrase requiring translation was “How goes it with her?”, the choices of available words makes sense.


Why isnt IHR in the suggestion for She? This is really bugging me because it doesnt show up

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