Why is it "Meine Freundin hat mich zu sich (nach Hause) eingeladen" as opposed to "sie hat mich zu ihr eingeladen", I mean. Which you could obviously also say, but then there would be 2 friends, wouldn't there? One inviting me to another woman's place.

I'd really appreciate it if somebody here could tell me which grammar rule is behind this.

  • I can't tell you why atm, I just know that "mich zu sich eingeladen" is the minimum of two people while "mich zu ihr eingeladen" - is not clear, can be both. Commented Mar 25, 2019 at 8:29
  • 2
    I am confused. Your first paragraph seems to answer the question.
    – Carsten S
    Commented Mar 25, 2019 at 12:28
  • Hi Susanne, welcome to German.Stackexchange! I edited your question and removed all parts that are not relevant for the question. Here, it's all about questions and answers and thanks/farewells are not necessary :)
    – Iris
    Commented Mar 25, 2019 at 12:42

4 Answers 4


Non-reflexive and reflexive pronouns are usually introduced in a manner that suggests the distribution is complementary. (In the following examples, I use indices i, j, ... to indicate coreference; an asterisk * indicates coreference is not possible.)

Juliaj sagt, Annai denkt nur an sichi, *j.
Juliaj sagt, Annai denkt nur an siej, *i.

However, this is an oversimplification. For instance, as the Duden grammar (8th edition) points out (§ 367), there are contexts in which both a reflexive and a non-reflexive pronoun are possible.

Annai sah die Hundej auf sichi/siei zurennen.
Moritzi erwartete mich bei sichi/ihmi im Büro.

In the absence of other criteria, people will always cite the potential for ambiguity as a reason to avoid one construction over another. However, language is easily capable of tolerating a certain level of ambiguity.

Annai sah die Hundej in ihremi, j Garten rennen.
Moritzi erwartete Hansj in seinemi, j Büro.

  • In lieu of? Or rather in lack of? Commented Mar 27, 2019 at 11:22
  • Das hat man davon, wenn man gebildet klingen will!
    – David Vogt
    Commented Mar 27, 2019 at 11:23

Lets check with simpler examples:

Sie hat mich zu sich gerufen.

This is reflexive. Sich refers to the subject sie. They are both identical.

Sie hat mich zu ihr gerufen.

This is not reflexive. Ihr refers to "some person". It may be the subject but as the reflexive option exists, people would assume another person is involved.


You variations both work. As you point out, if there are multiple friends or women involved, "zu ihr" could be ambigous. In the first example, she is doing the inviting, and it's also the place of the first mentioned friend, no one else's.

It is a commonly used turn of phrase to refer to one's place by saying "zu mir". The additional "nach Hause" is usually left out, because typically there is no other possible place which could have been meant.

  • After a well spent evening you can also say "zu mir oder zu dir?" Though I won't take any liability in case it doesn't work. If it does however, be sure to give me credit ;) Commented Mar 25, 2019 at 9:26
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    Yes, tannerli, I know both variations work. :) The thing is - and I'm sorry, maybe I should have said so in my original post, I just didn't want to clutter it up - this was a question I got asked by a girl I'm trying to help with learning German. Being a native speaker but not a teacher myself, I was unable to come up with an answer. So, what I would like to know about is the grammatical reason behind the "sich".
    – Susanne
    Commented Mar 25, 2019 at 9:48

I've never heard "zu ihr eingeladen" or "zu ihr gerufen". Both forms are wrong.

Correct is: "zu sich eingeladen" and "zu sich gerufen".

"bei ihr" would be correct too.

Maybe someone was thinking in the passive form: Bist du auch zu ihr eingeladen?

(Strange: I wouldn't say: "Ich habe euch zu mich eingeladen." Here I would use the dativ ...

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    They are not wrong. They are just very rarely met in the wild, because the situation they describe is a bit specific. Still the sentences are perfect in terms of grammar etc. Commented Mar 27, 2019 at 11:19
  • When they are rarely met, they are not common, as tannerli says. Commented Mar 27, 2019 at 11:23

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