Impersonal pronouns

Impersonal pronoun - 'es'

As well as being the neuter personal pronoun, es can be used impersonally in a general statement to mean ‘it’, just like in English, eg:

  • es ist kalt - it’s cold
  • es regnet - it’s raining
  • es ist wichtig - it’s important
  • es ist Montag - it’s Monday
  • es ist vier Uhr - it’s four o’clock
  • es ist unfair - it’s unfair

Impersonal pronoun - 'man'

There is another important impersonal pronoun - man - which uses the same part of the verb as er, sie, es (third person singular).

You use man when you are referring to no-one in particular and translate man as 'we', 'you' or 'one', eg:

  • in Großbritannien fährt man links - we drive on the left in Britain
  • in Deutschland fährt man rechts - you drive on the right in Germany
  • man feiert Weihnachten am 24. Dezember - they celebrate Christmas on 24 December

Translate the following sentences.

  • In der Schweiz spricht man viel Deutsch.
  • Man muss den Mull in die richtige Tonne bringen.
  • Am 3. Oktober feiert man in Deutschland den Tag der Deutschen Einheit.
  • In Switzerland they speak a lot of German.
  • You have to put the rubbish in the right bin.
  • On 3 October they celebrate The Day of German Unity.