Reflexive Pronouns

What are Reflexive Pronouns?

The reflexive pronouns in German are: mich, mir, dich, dir, sich, uns, euch, and sich. These are used as the object when there are reflexive or reciprocal verbs. Since the verbs are reflexive or reciprocal, that means the object is the same person / thing as the subject.

Reflexive pronouns can only be in the dative or accusative case.

Example:

  • „Ich wasche mir die Hände.“
  • „Wir treffen uns.”

Reflexive Pronoun Forms

Reflexive pronouns are determined by the noun's gender and number, as well as the case it is taking. They must be declined:

There is only a difference between accusative and dative in the 1st and 2nd person singular.

Using Reflexive Pronouns

With Reflexive Verbs:

Reflexive Verbs = verbs where the subject is acting on itself.

  • „Ich wasche mich.“  - Accusative
  • „Ich wasche mir die Hände.“  - Dative

The reflexive pronoun normally takes the accusative case. It only takes the dative case if the verb requires a dative complement or both an accusative and dative complement.

Explained simply: if there are 2 objects, the reflexive one takes dative case and the other one takes the accusative case. For verbs like "helfen", there is only one object but the verb requires dative, so the reflexive pronoun is dative.

  •  „Du schadest dir.“  - Dative
  • „Ich kaufe mir ein Auto.“ - Dative

With Reciprocal Verbs

Reciprocal verbs = verbs with a plural subject where both persons / things of the subject act on the other one (The English meaning is "each other" or "one another" ⇒ only in plural).

  • „Die 2 Frauen sehen sich.“   = „Sie sehen einander.“
  • „Sie streiten sich.“ =   „Sie streiten miteinander.“

These verbs also include: "sich kennen," "sich lieben," "sich einigen," "sich küssen."

Summary

Reflexive pronouns take the place of the object, which is the same as the subject.

They can only be in the dative and accusative cases.

The reflexive pronoun is normally in accusative (unless there is second object or the verb requires dative).

Related Topics:

Pronouns often have to be declined based on their case, so it's important to know when to use nominativeaccusativedative and genitive.

Here are the different types of pronouns you need to know: Demonstrative PronounsPersonal PronounsPossessive PronounsRelative PronounsReflexive Pronouns, and Indefinite Pronouns.

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