German Language/use of "Sie"

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Question
I am a beginner with German and would like to know when to use "er" or "sie" for "it"  Sometimes my book translates "it is" as "sie ist" and "er ist."  How do I know when to use "sie"?

Thank you, Joel

Answer
Hello Joel,

thank you for your question. I am sorry that I took a while for replying.

The fact that "it" has several translations in German is due to the fact that German nouns can have one of three different genders: male, female and neuter. The English word "the" also has several translations for this reason: "der, die, das".
So, the correct translation for "it" always depends on the noun it represents and also on the gender this word has in German.
For example, take the sentence "It is expensive". If "it" stands in for the word "jacket" here, it gets translated as "Sie ist teuer" because the German word "Jacke" is feminine - "die Jacke".
If "it" stands in for the word "hat", "it" gets translated as "Er ist teuer" because the German word "Hut" is masculine - der Hut.
And if "it" stands in for the word "shirt", "it" gets translated as "Es ist teuer" because the German word "Hemd" is neuter - das Hemd.

I hope this helps.

Best wishes
Janina

German Language

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Janina

Expertise

As a native German speaker working professionally with languages, I can answer questions concerning German grammar, spelling and punctuation. I can also help with understanding and short German-English translations. As I also speak French, I might also be helpful concerning German-French translations. Translation only refers to short texts here.

Experience

I am a German native speaker working as a translator for English and French. I am concerned with language issues as grammar and spelling on a daily basis. I am very interested in these kind of topics, as any good translator should be. I also have a very good insight in the differences between English and German (and also French), so I might be able to give helpful explanations why specific things are the way they are in a specific language.

Organizations
I am a member of the German Translator Association BDÜ.

Publications
My translations are published in form of manuals, company and product presentations, and websites, but you won't find my name there, as translators of technical texts are only rarely featured.

Education/Credentials
I studied translation at the University of Applied Sciences in Cologne (FH Köln), and have been working as a freelance translator for five years now.

Awards and Honors
I haven't received any awards, but receiving awards is really quite rare for translators.

Past/Present Clients
Mostly translation agencies in many different countries.

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