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  5. "Ihr beide" vs. "Ihr beiden"


"Ihr beide" vs. "Ihr beiden"

I am bit confused about when to use beide and when to use beiden. Does "Ihr beide" mean "you both" and "Ihr beiden" mean "you two"? Is there a meaningful difference between these two choices in German?

March 28, 2018



So ... without plowing through the Duden (I probably should, but I am going to do this from memory ... at least as I remember it) ... it works sort of like this:

Use 'beiden' when one of the following is true:

1) you are emphasizing the commonality of the two persons (individuals) or things, or 2) the two persons or things are considered to be a single thing in one aspect or another.

The second case obviously applies generically to nouns that are always plural (seine beiden Eltern, ihre beiden Kinder, etc).

As I recall, the Duden goes on a bit more about this, but that was my take away when I looked this up.

So, depending on the usage and what you are trying to say, 'ihr beide' and 'ihr beiden' can have very different implications even if not exactly different meanings.

One of my favorite examples of this -- my German teacher used this a couple of decades ago, but the first appears in the Duden as well:

"Ich habe Sie beide gestern im Theater gesehen." -- I saw both of you in the Theater yesterday. (as individuals but not necessarily together)

"Ich habe Sie beiden gestern im Theater gesehen." -- I saw both of you in the Theater yesterday. (together)

Of course the real authority on this is the Duden, and I hope I've managed to capture at least the spirit of its intent here :)


Great! I was asking someone about this just yesterday. I was of the understanding that beide inflects like an adjective, but then ihr/Sie beiden would be an anomaly except in dative case.

The "together/separately" distinction is at least a useful mnemonic to remember the exception.


Very nice, thank you!


Haha, my German-speaking husband has just been tying himself in knots trying to explain the "obvious" difference between your example sentences. Apparently, in his mind, in the "Sie beide" version, the "beide" is more like an adverb (probably not formally), indicating I saw both you and the other fellow - i.e., it's more about the experience of the person seeing than anything to do with the two people seen. He claims this makes perfect sense. I'm still laughing because if you'd seen him waving his arms around, trying to explain, you would have taken him for an Italian, not a German!


Ich habe Sie beiden gestern im Theater gesehen= i saw you two in the theater yesterday, is the correct translation, according to me.

  • 1394

I think that is right. Good question.


Oh, my! My German is rudimentary, but, side by side with the sometimes accurate Google translation, I got the gist of that. My German-speaking husband found it hilarious.

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