Use the German Personal Pronoun 'Es'

Overview

The German personal pronoun es is the English equivalent of it and has similar functions. Es is certainly used as "it" in both the nominative and accusative cases, but it has other functions as well. For example, es is used in daily conversation such as when describing the weather or stating the time. There are some differences between German es and English it and there’s specifically one use that trips up many learners because the es doesn’t seem to make sense. So let's take a detailed look at es.

Useful Basic German Phrases

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German the personal pronoun “es” is used for a variety of expressions. 

1. “Es gibt”

The expression “es gibt” (lit: it gives) is the German equivalent of the English “There is/There are”. In German, however, we always use the singular conjugation of “geben”, even if referring to a plural noun. In some instances, we can also say “Es ist/sind”. When using “ist/sind”, we do differentiate between singular and plural. “Es ist/sind” is used for specific occurrences or instances, whereas “es gibt” is used when discussing things in general terms.

Examples: 
Es gibt viele Studenten an der Uni. There are a lot of students at the university. 
Es sind viele Studenten auf dieser Party. There are lots of students at this party. 

The party is a specific event that has a limited duration, but speaking of the number of students at a university is a general comment that has no apparent time constraint. Also note that the verb “sein” agrees with the subject and not the “es,” which is why it is “Es sind viele Studenten…” versus “Es ist niemand da” (there is no one there).

“Es gibt” is also used when talking about the existence (or lack) of things in general.

Examples:
Es gibt eine Bäckerei in dieser Nachbarschaft.
There is a bakery in this neighborhood. 
Es gibt keine professionelle Fussballmannschaften in diesem Dorf. 
There are no professional soccer teams in this town. 

2. Impersonal uses of “es”

“Es” can be used as an impersonal pronoun (i.e. placeholder) in conjunction with verb in order to express that an action is occurring and not specifying an agent.Examples: Es klingelt. (lit. “It rings“)The doorbell is ringing. OR Someone is ringing the doorbell.
Es regnet. It is raining.
Es heisst, dass die Firma fast pleite ist. One says, the company is almost bankrupt. 

3. Anticipatory use of “es”

Sometimes “es” is used in a sentence in order to anticipate something that will be mentioned in the next part or clause of the sentence. It is typically followed by a dependent or infinitival clause.

Examples:
Ich mag es, wenn die Sonne scheint. I like it when the sun shines.
Wir lieben es, mit unseren Kollegen zu arbeiten. We love working with our colleagues.

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Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

The CEFR is an international standard used to describe language ability. Here are specific details of the CEFR for this topic.

General Explanation:
Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc. Can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken. Can produce simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest. Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes & ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.
Specific Capabilities at this Level
Writing:
I can write simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest. I can write personal letters describing experiences and impressions.
Spoken Production:
I can connect phrases in a simple way in order to describe experiences and events, my dreams, hopes and ambitions. I can briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans. I can narrate a story or relate the plot of a book or film and describe my reactions.
Spoken Interaction:
I can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken. I can enter unprepared into conversation on topics that are familiar, of personal interest or pertinent to everyday life (e.g. family, hobbies, work, travel and current events).
Reading:
I can understand texts that consist mainly of high frequency everyday or job-related language. I can understand the description of events, feelings and wishes in personal letters.
Listening:
I can understand the main points of clear standard speech on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc. I can understand the main point of many radio or TV programs on current affairs or topics of personal or professional interest when the delivery is relatively slow and clear.