This question also has an answer here (in German):
Spricht man über ein Mädchen/eine Frau mittels „sie“ oder „es“?

I’ve come across this text:

Ein Mädchen sitzt am Fenster. Sie hat lange Haare.

Shouldn’t it be es instead?

  • Welcome to Stackexchange! I linked to the question and answer in German. Your question is still no duplicate as it is OK to ask in German or English. – Iris Nov 3 '16 at 9:29
  • Actually I had a hard time trying to comprehend the answers in German, as I'm still a beginner. Thanks a lot. – user23568 Nov 3 '16 at 10:09

The grammatically correct personal pronoun is "es", because "Mädchen" as it is a neuter substanctive. Words with -lein or -chen are diminutive forms of words and always neuter.

Other examples:

Das Bürschlein ist sehr flink. Es klettert im Nu auf einen Baum.

Das Mütterchen wohnt im alten Haus. Ich gehe es morgen besuchen.

However, it is common to use the biological gender of the person (er/sie), in colloquial speech or in longer texts (without the danger of misunderstandings).

This might be compared to the use of pronounce "he/she" for beloved pets instead of the pronoun "it".

| improve this answer | |

Yes, it should be es. But we don't know the context. It would be inappropiate if Mädchen had been used merily as an affectionate form for woman and the next sentence would be something like this:

Ein Mädchen saß am Fenster. Sie hatte lange Haare. Ich fühlte mich sofort zu ihr hingezogen.

That one is okay, because it is clear it isn't really a Mädchen but a young Frau.

The following would let people think of Nabokov's Lolita.

Ein Mädchen saß am Fenster. Es hatte lange Haare. Ich fühlte mich sofort zu ihm hingezogen.

| improve this answer | |
  • 3
    This answer is nonsense. The correct answer was given by Phira here: german.stackexchange.com/questions/2731/… – fdb Nov 3 '16 at 11:14
  • 4
    Nope. it's perfectly ok to refer to a young woman as "Mädchen" + "es" or a female child as "Mädchen" + "sie". It is merely a question of style, apparently there is a trend to use the pronoun according to natural gender instead of grammatical gender. – Stephie Nov 3 '16 at 12:01
  • 2
    Can we agree that both is correct (mainly because it's my opinion)? Das Mädchen ging über die Straße - [Sie|Es] trug ein blaues Kleid und gelbe Turnschuhe. Sounds both perfectly alright to me without expressing affection or not. – tofro Nov 3 '16 at 12:31
  • 3
    -1. I think, this example is not well chosen. It would never assume that "das Mächen" was used as an affectionate for a woman in the sentence of the question. And I "Ich fühlte mich sofort zu ihr/ihm hingezogen." both makes me think of a lolita girl – Iris Nov 3 '16 at 12:58
  • 3
    @Janka I don’t (like all the others here) see any difference in implied meaning or usage between your two examples. Neither makes any explicit or implicit statement about the girl’s age. Both can be interpreted as a young lady or a little girl. Most importantly, both make me immediately jump to a conclusion involving Nabukov’s Lolita. – Jan Nov 3 '16 at 17:21