In the following sentence

Nicht in den germanischen Urwäldern hat die deutsche Geschichte ihren Ursprung [...]

what is the purpose of "ihren"?

To me it looks quite weird to have that word there, and the translator gives the same answer even if I remove "ihren" from the sentence. How the meaning of the sentence would change if I remove "ihren"?

  • 2
    Do not rely on automatic translators to tell you if a word is needed; they do not correct grammar and if there is a word missing they can often fill in blank using common usage patterns.
    – RDBury
    Jan 7 at 5:32
  • 1
    There is no reason to downvote the question.
    – Paul Frost
    Jan 8 at 23:12

2 Answers 2


Not in the Germanic virgin forest, the German history has its origin.

The purpose of its is, to complete the sentence.

Whose origin? Its origin.

A more fluent English sentence structure might be:

The German history originates not in the Germanic virgin forest.

with the verb corresponding to origin.


@user unknown is of course correct, "its" is the translation to "ihren" here, but there is more to it:

English uses the neutral "it" as a pronoun for everything not human (with a few exceptions like ships). Therefore "history" - "its".

This is not the case in German, however. German always uses the pronoun according to the grammatical gender of the noun. It is "die Geschichte" and hence "Geschichte" is feminine. Therefore the proper pronoun is "ihr" (her).

In English one would say:

Here is a dog. It barks.

In German this would be:

Hier ist ein Hund. Er bellt.

The reason is that "Hund" is masculine: "der Hund". If you want to state that the dog is female use "Hündin" (=bitch) - and the appropriate female pronoun:

Hier ist eine Hündin. Sie bellt.

I will spare you an in-depth discussion about the german "Kategoriebegriff" and its meaning for the gender-discussion at this point. Only so much: "der Hund" means either a male dog OR any dog of indefinite/unknown gender - a category. A lack of knowing this can be made up for, though, by any number of special characters along with some dozens of alternative endings affixed to the noun.

  • 1
    As far as I understand the question, it's not so much about the gender of the pronoun (ihr versus sein), but why there is a pronoun in the first place (Quote: "[...] what is the purpose of 'ihren'?"). Therefore, that's more of a long comment than an answer. Jan 7 at 18:03
  • Hey and what about when the thing is masculine but an object? Like Tisch. Do you still user "er" or do you use "es"? "Hier ist ein Tisch. Es/Er ist schön"
    – JorgeeFG
    Jan 8 at 21:18
  • The pronoun always has to have the grammatical Gender of what it refers to. Here: 'Er' Jan 9 at 12:49
  • As i have tried to explain this is a difference between English and German: in English you revert to neutral for all objects, hence: "This is a table. IT is beautiful.", whereas in German one uses grammatical genders for all sorts of objects: "Das ist ein Tisch. ER ist schön."
    – bakunin
    Jan 12 at 14:19

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