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I am wondering if there is a rule to know when I have to use the possesive pronoun sein or ihr.

For instance:

Er liebt seine Frau sehr

Er liebt ihre Frau sehr

How does the meaning change by changing the pronoun. About which wife are we talking?

or another example:

Die Mutter holt ihren Sohn vom Kindergarten ab.

The mother takes her son from the kindergarden.

Is it her son or another mother's son?

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    "Sein" and "ihr"aren't prepositions, they're pronouns, and possesive pronouns to be specific. – Beta Oct 8 '16 at 14:05
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    Was sagt das Wörterbuch? – user unknown Oct 8 '16 at 21:10
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    Different to French the gender of the pronoun follows the subject, not the object in German. May that be your issue here? – Takkat Oct 9 '16 at 7:28
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    Why does this type of question keep leaving the close vote review queue? – Jan Oct 9 '16 at 19:32
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    Reopen it because Takkat is right! – äüö Oct 10 '16 at 12:54
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Its the same as in English:

  1. The pronoun refers to the sentences subject, which is male:

    Walter hat gerade Maria geheiratet.
    Er (Walter) liebt seine (eigene) Frau sehr.

    Walter just has married Maria.
    He (Walter) loves his (own) wife very much.

    Here the pronoun refers to »er« (»he«) which is the subject of the sentence. Since er/he is male, the pronoun also has to be male.

  2. The pronoun refers to something outside the sentence, which is male:

    Michael ist mit Claudia verheiratet, aber auch Markus liebt Claudia. Markus ist Michaels bester Freund.
    Er (Markus) liebt seine (Michaels) Frau sehr.

    Michael is married to Claudia, but also Markus loves Claudia. Markus is Michaels best friend.
    He (Markus) loves his (Michaels) wife very much.

  3. The pronoun refers to something outside the sentence, which is female:

    Barbara ist mit Claudia verheiratet, sie sind ein lesbisches Paar. Aber auch Markus liebt Claudia. Markus ist Barbaras bester Freund.
    Er (Markus) liebt ihre (Barbaras) Frau sehr.

    Barbara is married to Claudia, they are a lesbian couple. But also Markus loves Claudia. Markus is Barbaras best friend.
    He (Markus) loves her (Barbaras) wife very much.

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  • Thanks for this answer! Therfore Die Mutter holt ihren Sohn vom Kindergarten ab. is the mother take her children from the Kindergarten, right? And here do ihre would have mean the children of somebody else? – Revolucion for Monica Oct 9 '16 at 15:39
  • My English is not the best, but I think it should be: »The mother takes her son from the preschool.« (German »Sohn« is not »children« in English, but »son«. And German »Kindergarten« and Englisch »kindergarten« are false friends!) In this sentense »ihren« can mean exactly the same as »her« in English: Either her own son, or another women's son. It depends on context. – Hubert Schölnast Oct 9 '16 at 16:17
  • Note that in general the choice depends on the grammatical gender of what sein/ihr refers to: Das Mädchen liebt seine Eltern. – Carsten S Oct 14 '16 at 16:49
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"Er liebt seine Frau" basically means: "He loves his wife."

"Er liebt ihre Frau" means: "He loves her wife" maybe "He loves your wife" (This would be more formal, so you should write "Ihre")

So it depends on what you want to say.

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    I would translate 2nd sentence to "He loves her wife", which is somewhat unlikely requiring a same-sex marriage. But it is still more likely, than the formal addressing in lowercase. – guidot Oct 8 '16 at 16:40
  • Okay the second sentence is not what I was looking for, thanks! Therfore Die Mutter holt ihren Sohn vom Kindergarten ab. is the mother take her children from the Kindergarten, right? And here ihre means the children of somebody else? – Revolucion for Monica Oct 9 '16 at 15:42

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