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German Pronouns

Pronouns are kicking my tail! I'm trying to make a chart that shows what to use and when and I'm hung up on you (singular). My research shows me that it's du (nominative), dich (accusitive) and dir (dative). I understand all that and THINK I understand that dative would be if it's an indirect object or the object of a preposition, right? So why, when I try to come up with a sample sentence like "I give the book to you" (it's an indirect object there, right?) the online translator site gives me "Ich gebe das Buch Ihnen." Why wouldn't it be "Ich gebe das Buch dir"? This is so confusing to me!

June 22, 2018



Try feeding the machine the sentence the other way round: if it acknoledges the "du" form and correctly translate it to "you", it's not a bad site. Some simply refuse to recognize the familiar "you" that exists in many languages appart from English. Additionaly, I would rather say "Ich gebe dir ein Buch" or "Ich gebe Ihnen ein Buch" (or even "Ich gebe euch ein Buch", plural familiar), since German prefers to put the pronouns before the nouns when it comes to complements.

And that's why it's stilll worth learning languages, as automatic translators still have a way to go :)


Thank you. Google translate finally gave me "Ich gebe dir ein Buch" but I was originally using Reverso and it always gave me a form of Ihr.


I like Reverso (especially Context) very much, but only since I'm advanced enough to understand what it tells me and why. At the beginning, it confused me to no ends, I felt I knew less after using it that before :D
Worst machine translation I ever had on this note (can't remember exactly what site), was submitting a "tu" form (informal singular you in my native French) to receive a "Sie" form (formal you) in German, whatever I tried: the cringing was hard ;)

  • 1006

It’s better not to use machine translation unless you are rock solid in your understanding of German and German grammar because you do not know yet if the presented translation is correct or not.

Machines cannot tell whether “you” is supposed to be “du/dir” or “Sie/Ihnen”. You are smarter than a machine, so don’t let it confuse you when you have everything figured out correctly by yourself.

If you have questions or just need somebody to confirm your translations or pronoun tables or whatever, it’s always better to ask in this forum.


Thank you. I just feel like I'm a bother when I ask on here. I'll use this forum more freely.


Hey, we all begun at one point, what would the forum be worth if you couldn't ask and we could not help? One day perhaps you'll help one of us in another language :)


There is a word order issue for direct and indirect objects also.

  • 360

the online translator is wrong!

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