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- you (polite; singular and plural)
- Was möchten Sie, Frau Wagner?
- What would you like to have, Mrs. Wagner?
- The German Sie expresses distance in the relation between two persons. It is not perfectly correct to say that it expresses respect. Sie has never been used to address gods and saints. Towards parents it was only briefly used during the 18th century by some of the upper classes. (In both of these cases, however, Ihr was formerly possible alongside du.) Even royal highnesses used to be addressed as du, albeit not personally but in songs and poems (compare the famous Heil dir im Siegerkranz).
- Sie is identical in form to the third person plural pronoun sie (“they”) and takes the same verb form. The "polite" Sie is distinguished in writing by capitalization. The only form which is not capitalized is the reflexive sich. When addressing a person with Sie, one generally needs to replace the third person plural pronoun with the demonstrative die to avoid confusion: Wissen Sie, was die zu mir gesagt haben? − “Do you know what they said to me?”
German personal pronouns
|1st person singular||ich||mich||meiner
|2nd person singular (familiar)1||du
|3rd person singular||m||er||ihn||seiner
|1st person plural||wir
|2nd person plural (familiar)1||ihr||euch||euer||euch||euer|
|3rd person plural||sie||ihrer||ihnen||ihr|
|polite address||naturally: 2nd person sg. or pl.;
grammatically: 2nd person pl.
|naturally: 2nd person sg. or pl.;
grammatically: 3rd person pl.
1Often capitalized, especially in letters
- The genitive case Ihrer is more and more rarely used in modern German.
- The genitive case Ihrer does not express ownership, so it must not be confused with the possessive pronoun Ihr, which is declined by gender, singular/plural and case.