German Demonstrative Pronouns

What are Demonstrative Pronouns?

Demonstrative Pronouns are: der, die, das, dieser, diese, dieses, jener, jene, jenes and their respective declined versions.

  • We use Demonstrative Pronouns to emphasize something.
  • They are always strongly stressed.
  • They can be used as a placeholder for a previously mentioned noun.
  • There are different Demonstrative Pronouns.
  • They are used to avoid the repetition of the noun.


Example: 

  • „Wer ist der Mann dort?“ – „Den kenne ich nicht.“


Der, Die and Das as Demonstrative Pronouns

The declension of the Demonstrative Pronouns „der“, „die“, „das“ is very similar to the declension of the Relative Pronouns.

Word Order

Demonstrative Pronouns are strongly stressed and are often in position 1:

  • „Der Mann gibt der Frau den Brief.“ (normal, as Article)
  • Den gibt der Mann der Frau.“
  • Den gibt er ihr!“

Alternative Word Order: „Er gibt den ihr.“ 

Interesting Fact:

Putting the Demonstrative Pronoun in the 3rd or 4th position is not grammatically wrong, but it contradicts the stress and emphasis. Therefore, native speakers will probably be confused if you put it in a place other than position 1.

Demonstrative Pronoun: „das“

„Das“ combined with the verb „sein“ refers to a person or thing (pointing the finger at it).

We often combine it with the adverbs „hier“, „da“ and „dort“

.

  • „Papa was ist das da?“ – „Das  ist ein Hammer.
  • „Wem gehören die Schuhe dort?“ – „Das sind meine!“

⇒ If we don't know what something is, we use „das“.


„Das“ can also refer to an entire sentence content or situation:

  • Anna hat sich von Tobi getrennt!“  -  „Bist du dir sicher? Das kann nicht sein!“
  • Der Fernseher ist kaputt!“  -  „Das wusste ich auch so schon!“

A situation or idea has no Genus   das


Demonstrative Pronouns: „dieser” / „jener”

„Dieser“ and „jener“ can be both Articles and Pronouns. In both instances, they are declined the same way.


„Dieser“ is used to emphasize something close to the speaker.

„Jener“ is used to emphasize something further away from the speaker.

  • „Gefallen dir die Schuhe?“  – „Nein, diese nicht aber jene!“
  • „Ist das dein neues Auto?“  – „Dieses nicht, aber jenes!“

Interesting Fact:

In Informal language „jenes“ is rarely used. Instead „der“, „die“, „das“, … + „da“/„dort“ are used.

  • „Gefallen dir die Schuhe?“ – „Nein, diese nicht aber die dort!“
  • „Ist das dein neues Auto?“ – „Dieses nicht, aber das dort!“

Summary

  • With Demonstrative Pronouns, we can stress and emphasize things.
  • We use „der“, „die“, „das“ and their declined versions.
  • If we cannot determine the Gender, we use „das“.
  • To show distance, we can use „dieser“ or „jener“.

Related Topics:

Demonstrative Pronouns are also often used in conjunction with Local Adverbs.

More lessons on Pronouns:

Pronouns have to be declined. Therefore, you must also be familiar with the declension and the German Cases:

You can find an overview of all topics under German Grammar.

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