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Ihren/m seinen/m how do you when to use them?

I've often used seinen where seinem would have been correct or seinem where ihrem would have been correct. Can somebody help clarify their uses, please?

August 19, 2012


  1. "Ihr" and "sein" are possessive articles, just like "my/your/his (book)" in English. The basic choice between "sein" and "ihr" depends on who the owner of something is, e.g. does the book belong to the man (his book - sein Buch) or to the woman (her book - ihr Buch)?

sein = his or its

ihr = her or their

Ihr (spelled with a capital letter!) = your (formal)

Note that because German nouns have genders, the forms in German and English do not always match. E.g. when you're talking about a banana in English, you would say "ITS shape", but in German you say "HER shape" (ihre Form), because a banana is grammatically feminine in German (die Banane).

  1. After having chosen one of the possessive articles (my, your, his, etc.), you have to add an ending. The ending corresponds with the number (singular/plural), case and gender of the thing that is owned, i.e. the following noun (e.g. He reads his BOOK). Incidentally, the endings of the possessive articles are the same as those of the indefinite article: Sie isst einEN Apfel. - Sie isst ihrEN Apfel.

For more information on the possessive articles and their endings, see: http://coerll.utexas.edu/gg/gr/det_03.html (Note that this website calls them "possessive pronouns", but they mean the same thing).


Ich mag seineN Hund. - I like his dog. masculin singular possisive pronoun. ("Hund" is masculin = "der" Hund) (it's also explainable by using the Akkusativ-Question: "WEN ODER WAS magst du? SeineN Hund" -- see below)

Er geht mit seinem Hund spazieren. - He walks with his dog. Mit WEM geht er spazieren? - With whom does he walk? - mit seineM Hund. - with his dog. (here you need to use the third casus, the "Dativ". In order to check whether you used the right casus you can always build questions that ask for the object in the sentence: 1. Nominativ: Wer oder Was? 2. Genitiv: Wessen? 3. Dativ: Wem? 4. Akkusativ: Wen oder Was?

So if you want to build a sentence with Dativ you use seineM for masculin or neutral nouns.

If you want to express possesion of masculin or plurals words you use seineN. Gib mir seinen Stuhl. - Give me his chair. (Stuhl=masculin) Er gibt die Uhr seinen Kindern. - He gives the watch to his children.(Kindern=plural)

I hope the difference is clear. Otherwise you can ask me again, I speak German as first language so maybe my explanation isn't helpful to people who learn German.


In German usually dative comes before accusative in cases like... Ich gebe der Frau einen Ring... In cases where there is an accusative and dative pronoun the accusative comes first.. Ich schenke ihn dir.... However how does this work with personal pronouns.. So if I were to say something like I am giving my wife my ring.. Would this be... Ich gebe meiner Frau meinen Ring? Another example.. I am showing my family to your family.. Would this be... Ich zeige deiner Familie meine Familie? What if you added an adverb in.. Would this be ich zeige heute deiner Familie meine Familie or would heute come last....

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