Which gender of verb should I use for indefinitive pronouns? If we are talking about women or kids, and I want to say "everyone", how do I say it?

Will "Jedes Kind" become "jedes" and "Jede Frau" become "jede"?

So, does the sentence:

Jedes Kind braucht eine Hilfe


Jedes braucht eine Hilfe

or can it be:

Jeder braucht eine Hilfe

Does that also mean, if I want to use a pronoun, I must always know genders of the things I am talking about?

  • 4
    "Hilfe" is an abstract concept in your examples - You wouldn't use it with an article.
    – tofro
    Commented Mar 28, 2019 at 7:58

1 Answer 1


Short answer:


Long answer:

If you talk about a neuter noun, you have to use the neuter pronoun:

Gestern sah ich drei Mädchen durch den Park gehen. Jedes trug weiße Schuhe.
Ernst hat vier Kinder und jedes hat einen Vornamen, der mit A beginnt.
Auf der Theke liegen mehrere Messer. Jedes von ihnen muss poliert werden.

Masculine nouns need masculine pronouns:

Gestern sah ich drei Männer durch den Park gehen. Jeder trug weiße Schuhe.
Ernst hat vier Söhne und jeder hat einen Vornamen, der mit A beginnt.
Auf der Theke liegen mehrere Löffel. Jeder von ihnen muss poliert werden.

And feminine nouns must match with feminine pronouns:

Gestern sah ich drei Frauen durch den Park gehen. Jede trug weiße Schuhe.
Ernst hat vier Töchter und jede hat einen Vornamen, der mit A beginnt.
Auf der Theke liegen mehrere Gabeln. Jede von ihnen muss poliert werden.

If the noun is not present in the text, it in most cases is in the unspoken/unwritten context, i.e. in the speakers/writers mind and so hopefully also in the listeners/readers mind. And if it is, the pronoun must matsch with this absent noun too:

A lady with sad eyes stand in front of a screen where you can see hungy and crying children, and this lady is very obviously talking about those kids, but she didn't use the words Kind or Kinder, and then she says:
Bitte Spenden Sie! Jedes braucht Ihre Hilfe.

Works with feminine nouns too:

In the kitchen of a restaurant. The Chef and an apprentice are standing next to the washer, and dozens of cups (cup = die Tasse) are comming out of the machine. The chef says:
Ich möchte, dass du jede abtrocknest und polierst.

Same with masculine nouns:

In a shop that sells TV sets (TV set = der Fernseher). A load of new TV sets arrived. Boss to one of the workers:
Jeder muss ausgepackt und getestet werden.

But sometimes you don't have a specific noun in your mind, and sometimes you are talking about a set of thing who's elements have names with different grammatical genders. This is the place where generic masculine comes in:

Talking about men and women who want to enter a show:
Jeder braucht eine Eintrittskarte.

But since a few decades there is a long debate about political correctness concerning this old grammatical feature, and this debate is going on with lots of pros and cons and even more emotions. Some say, you still can use the old generic masculine, others say, when you talk about people who can be male and female, you have to use both pronouns, the masculine and the feminine. So it has to be:

Jede und jeder braucht eine Eintrittskarte.

This discussion is annoying, and it doesn't find an end. So it is better not to use singular pronouns in this case. Plural pronouns help you to avoid long political discussions:

Alle brauchen eine Eintrittskarte.

So, when ever possible, try to use alle, viele, einige or similar.

This means for your example, you better should use this sentence:

Alle brauchen Hilfe.

(Hilfe doesn't need an article here, but this is another topic.)

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