I am trying to understand the meaning of ihrer here:

"Sie lernt mit den Kindern ihrer Freunde."

Is it correct to translate this as:

"She is studying with her friends' children."

But if you change the verb to lernen:

"Sie lernen mit den Kindern ihrer Freunde."

Does this become:

"They are studying with their friends' children."?

I think ihrer can mean both her and them, but I am not sure so was trying to highlight this in the two sample phrases.

  • This is a type of co-reference resolution, same as Ihr Zug ist da or Ich sehe sie. It is not unique to the genitive case forms. The interpretation is a question of context. Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 19:44

1 Answer 1


You are correct, ihrer is the personal pronoun of:

    1. Person Femininum Singular Genitiv (your first example)
    1. Person Plural Genitiv (second example)

Also note, that in your example sentences ihrer does not necessarily have to refer to Sie, though usually it would. Depending on context it could also refer to another person(s) which is/are not mentioned in this sentence.

  • The same problem of ambiguous reference with pronouns is frequent in English. Usually, it is easy to resolve the ambiguity based on what makes sense in the context. Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 7:16

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