I was reading the novel "Krabat" and came across the following sentences:

»Ja«, sagte Lobosch, »heuer zum letzten Mal. Denn nun bin ich hier Lehrjunge auf der Mühle.« Das sagte er voller Stolz, und die Mühlknappen dachten sich ihr's dabei.«

The bit that's confusing me is that last clause, "… und die Mühlknappen dachten sich ihr's dabei." I found a website that lists all the archaisms or otherwise strange idioms in this book and it lists that clause as being equivalent to "und die Mühlknappen dachten sich ihre Antwort darauf." So my understanding is that "ihr's," a contraction of "ihr es," is here an abbreviation of "ihre Antwort darauf," but I don't understand how exactly you get from one to the other.

  • 2
    Inserting "Antwort" is a strange choice made on that website.
    – Carsten S
    Commented Apr 1, 2021 at 8:46
  • 2
    For me as native speaker the Mühlknappen are more special than ihr's ^^ Commented Apr 1, 2021 at 11:42
  • The "ihr's" is not a shortening of "ihr es", but of "ihres" (theirs). Meins/meines, seins/seines, deins/deines, ihr's/ihres. Ich denke die anderen Formen sind so eingeschliffen, dass da der Apostroph nicht mehr gesetzt wird. Commented Apr 1, 2021 at 20:52

1 Answer 1


It's not ihr es, but ihrs / ihres (theirs).

I think, today you would rather say something like:

Sie dachten sich ihren Teil dabei.
They had their own thoughts on the matter.

But as you see: der Teil is nothing really specific. It just stands for what comes to their mind.

A sentence like

Ich denke mir meinen Teil und schweige.


I keep my thoughts to myself and don't say anything.

I could shorten that to

Ich denke mir meins und halte den Mund.

Meins is here just my something since no one knows, what I only think but don't say.

  • 4
    Maybe you want to add, that in most cases meins or meinen Teil will be something against the other persons view, sometimes something negative about the choice or action the other person made. For example if you talk with a neighbor, which says something you do not agree with. But to be kind and do not start a discussion, you will be still and du denkst dir deinen Teil. Commented Apr 1, 2021 at 11:38
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    Grammatically, it is related to "Sie denken sich etwas dabei" and "Sie denken sich nichts dabei". Commented Apr 1, 2021 at 19:47
  • @Olafant: If "der Teil" is" nothing really specific" then you probably don't know what i mean by: zu dieser Erklärung denke ich mir meinen Teil. Somehow i am convinced you do, though.
    – bakunin
    Commented Dec 17, 2021 at 15:34

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