Even in English, whether speaking or writing, the use of a possessive pronoun without introducing a clear antecedent can lead to confusion. Perhaps you've met someone who has a habit of starting a conversation without any antecedent or context to what it is he or she is telling you and you've had to stop them and ask, "Who are you talking about?"
It is difficult to derive much context from a sentence such as "Ihre Kinder lesen Bücher," but fortunately, duolingo accepts a variety and multitude of different answers.
To answer your question more directly, you could just get more descriptive about who it is you're talking about. A person usually has some detail that is distinguishing. For example
Do you see the woman wearing a hat?
Siehst du die Frau trägt einen Hut?
Do you see the woman wearing a dress?
Siehst du die Frau trägt ein Kleid?
Do you see the woman with a book?
Siehst du die Frau mit einem Buch?
Upon which you could follow up with
Ihre Kinder lesen Bücher.
Hope that was helpful in some way.
Just so you know, @Amy91436, @nova46 kindly pointed out to me that my original chart contained an error ("sein" was listed for "her" and "ihr" was listed for "it"). The chart was corrected and uploaded with the corrected version Friday, March 25, 2016 @ 6:40 PM, Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
Please explain me about all these pronouns Ihr=her Ihr=you (plural) Ihr=their (from google translate) Ihre=her ??? Ihre=your Ihre=their ??? I am really really confused. Ihr Kinder lesen= Her kids read??????? Ihr Kinder lesen=Their kids read?????? Ihre Kinder lesen=Her kids read?????? Also please explain about the feminine thing (IhrE/Ihr) and eure (du->dein, ihr->ihre,Sei(you formal)->?) Thank you earlier
>diene for plural and female gender while dien for singular, masculine and neutral
wahyuprata2, you had two typos in your answer. The word is spelled, "dein" or "deine". I'm sure you knew that, but thought I should mention it here, to clarify it for other students.
wahyuprata2 is right about "dein" and "deine"--if it is being used in the nominative case. If it's accusative, the ending for a masculine word changes to deinen. If it's dative, the endings for all 3 genders and the plural change. And we haven't learned genitive, yet.
I recommend a website that has a good explanation of this, and it has tables that are easy to read, and it has a quiz at the bottom to practice (the answers are at the bottom.) I've found this site to be very helpful.
Okay, so let me get this straight:
As far as I know the
possesive pronouns (inflected as nominative, masculine) go -
my = mein
your = dein, Ihr (formal)
his, her, its = sein, ihr, sein
our = unser
your = euer
their = ihr
And then you just have to determine the ending according to the case and gender?
So 'Ihre' can mean 'her', 'their' and 'your (sing formal)', but how would you know which one is the right meaning if the verb is in plural form? If I see 'lesen' I automatically assume the subject is 'we' or 'they' and since I was given 'Ihre' I assumed the subject would be 'they', but it wasn't. It was translated as 'her'. Then again, if the phrase had been 'Ihre Kind liest', I wouldn't have known either, because it could mean 'Your/Their/Her child is reading', so it's not just a plural verb issue.
PS: I know this is a listening exercise, but I wanted to ask, just in case this appears in a written transcription exercise.
Without context you cannot know. The verb here is in plural because 'Kinder' is plural, it has nothing to do with the meaning of 'Ihre'. By the way, when Ihre is in the middle of the sentence you can discriminate between 'her/their' and 'your' on the capital letter. Also you say 'your (sing formal)', but plural formal is also possible. And finally, also in English you don't know whether 'your' is singular or plural.
So Ihr/Ihre = your, yours, her, hers, their, and theirs.
So when I say Ich trinke ihr Bier, the only one's beer you know I'm not drinking is his beer, my beer and your own private stash of beer. (that would be dein beer).
I guess having Ihr also mean his would be horribly confusing, unless of course there are more than one his in which case it makes perfect sense!