How to Use Accusative Pronouns in German

Hallo, Deutschlerner. Today I’m going to teach you how to use the accusative case personal pronouns in German. Since I plan to talk about the accusative prepositions in a future lesson, today’s examples will not use any of those, but the concept is the same, if you apply it to the accusative prepositions. If you haven’t already seen my video about how the accusative case works with der-words and ein-words, click this link to watch that video first. I’ll review the highlights in this lesson, but the full lesson is definitely worth a watch. 

This lessons is included in the “Everything Accusative Case Bargain Bundle”. When you purchase this bundle, you get access to all of my materials about the accusative case in German. Click here to check it out.

Click here to take a deep dive into the accusative case in German and learn everything there is to know about this case.

What is a personal pronoun?

First of all, what is a personal pronoun? Pronouns in general replace nouns. Nouns are people, places, things and ideas. If you replace one of those with a word that is usually shorter, that word is a pronoun. Personal pronouns are the ones that you usually think of when someone mentions pronouns. We call them personal pronouns to differentiate them from possessive pronouns like “mine” or “yours”. In English personal pronouns include words like: I, me, you, he, him, she, her and so on. 

Nominative vs Accusative Personal Pronouns

You should already be familiar with the nominative case personal pronouns in German. They are the ones that you use in conjugation charts: ich, du, er, sie, es, wir, ihr, sie, Sie. Each of those has another version that is used when the pronoun is referring to someone or something that is the direct object of the sentence, which in German is displayed in the accusative case. For example, if I am the direct object of the sentence, I no longer use the pronoun I. This pronoun switches to “me” in English. In German we go from “ich” to “mich”. Here is a bit more of a concrete example of this. 

Ich mag deinen Bruder. –
I like your brother. 

Er mag mich auch. –
He likes me, too. 

In the first one, I am the one that likes someone, so I am in the nominative case, “ich”. In the second one, I am the one being liked, so I am in the accusative case, “mich”. This works the same way if we look at the pronoun “er”. “Er” is the nominative case form, just like “he” is in English. When we change to the direct object in English, we switch to “him”. In German “er” becomes “ihn”. You already saw “er” in the nominative case in “Er mag mich auch.” (He likes me, too), but we can see the accusative version if we replace “deinen Bruder” with a pronoun. 

Ich mag ihn. –
I like him

German Pronouns that are the same in both Nominative & Accusative

Just like in English, however, not all of the pronouns change from one case to the other. All of the sie’s remain “sie” and “es” remains “es” in the accusative case. When this happens it is occasionally relevant to rely on word order to tell us which pronoun is the subject and which is the direct object. 

Sie kauft es. –
She buys it

Es kauft sie. –
It buys her

The first one obviously makes more sense, but because “sie” and “es” don’t change between the nominative and accusative cases, word order has to tell us what the subject is. 

German Nominative & Accusative Personal Pronouns Chart

Now that we have the general idea out of the way, let’s look at our handy-dandy personal pronouns chart to see which pronouns change and how they change as well as which ones don’t change. 

Accusative Personal Pronouns Chart in Nominative and Accusative with English Translations
Accusative Personal Pronouns Chart in Nominative and Accusative with English Translations

Accusative Personal Pronouns Example Sentences in German

Ich mag dich. –
I like you

Magst du mich? –
Do you like me

Sie mag ihn. –
She likes him

Er mag sie nicht. –
He doesn’t like her

Ich mag es. –
I like it

Wir mögen euch. –
We like you

Mögt ihr uns? –
Do you like us

Die Kinder mögen sie. –
The children like them

Die Kunden mögen Sie. –
The customers like you

Accusative Personal Pronoun Examples in Conversation

Dialogue 1

A: Guten Morgen, Lukas. 

B: Hallo, Leon. Hast du dein Englischbuch? 

A: Ja, ich habe es. Warum?

B: Ich habe die Aufgabe noch nicht gemacht und ich habe mein Buch nicht mitgebracht. Darf ich mir dein Buch kurz borgen? 

A: Vielleicht können wir die Arbeit zusammen machen. Ich habe sie auch noch nicht gemacht. 

B: Das geht. Hast du auch einen Bleistift? 

A: Lass mich mal raten. Du willst ihn dir auch borgen? 

B: Woher weißt du das?

A: Ich kenne dich seit dem Kindergarten. Du bist nie auf den Unterricht vorbereitet. 

B: Da hast du recht, aber heute bist du auch unvorbereitet. 

A: Nein. Ich bin vorbereitet. Ich habe heute kein Englisch. 

Dialogue 2

C: Entschuldigung! Haben Sie frische Erdbeeren? 

D: Ja, wir haben sie in Gang 15. 

C: Kann ich auch einen Apfel da finden? 

D: Ja, da finden Sie ihn auch. 

C: Danke. 

Dialogue 3

E: Ich habe neue Kleidung gekauft. Magst du sie

F: Ist der Hut auch neu? 

E: Ja, ihn habe ich gestern gekauft. 

F: Ich mag ihn nicht. Die Hose ist aber schick. 

E: Danke. Ich habe sie in der Steinstraße gekauft. 

F: Was denkst du über meinen Hut? 

E: Hörst du mich nicht? Ich habe schon gesagt, ich mag ihn nicht. 

G: Warum streitet ihr euch

E: Warum mischst du dich ein? Wir haben dich nicht eingeladen. Lass uns in Ruhe. 

Herr Antrim: Woah. Woah. Let’s just end that conversation there before those three attack each other. You have seen quite a few examples of these pronouns in action in a variety of situations, but if you are looking for more about this topic or if you want to practice using these on your own, there is a link in the description for the extra materials to go with this lesson. Don’t forget to throw a like my way and I’ll see you in the next video.