In grammar, a pronoun is defined as a word or phrase that may be substituted for a noun or noun phrase. How is this possible? Briefly, it’s because pronouns can do everything that nouns can do. A pronoun can act as a subject, direct object, indirect object, object of the preposition, and more.
In Estonian there are 6 different types of pronouns.
1. Personal pronouns
Personal pronouns have two forms in Estonian - a long form which is used when you want to emphazise the pronoun and a short form which is used when you don't.
Declension of personal pronouns
In the following tables you can see how the personal pronouns are declined.
2. Reflexive pronouns
A reflexive pronoun indicates that the person who is realizing the action of the verb is also the recipient of the action.
There are two of them in Estonian:
1. The pronoun 'ise'
The pronoun ise is equivalent to '(one)self' in English.
|-self (singular)||short||-selves (plural)||short|
There are compound pronouns for all the forms of ise except the nominative: gen. iseenese, part. iseennast, ill. iseenesesse etc. They mean the same thing as simpler forms but add an element of emphasis.
- Ta austab ennast rohkem kui teisi. --- He respects himself more than the others.
- Alati tuleb endaks jääda. --- You should always be yourself.
- Me küsisime endilt, kas see oli tõesti õige otsus. --- We asked ourselves whether this was really the right decision.
2. The pronoun 'oma'
The pronoun oma is used to indicate possession by the subject of the sentence. It corresponds to the possessive pronouns in English, like 'my (own)' or 'mine' etc.
|Partitive||oma||omasid / omi|
However, the pronoun oma is normally not declined!
- Ma armastan oma sõpra. --- I love my friend.
- Ma kirjutan oma sõbrale. --- I write to my friend.
- Me rääkisime oma sõbrast. --- We talked about our friend.
The pronoun oma is declined for special emphasis. Adding an emphatic 'own' would be the equivalent in English.
- Need on ju omad inimesed. --- These are our own people.
- Omal vastutusel. --- At your own risk.
- Ta elab omas majas. --- She lives in her own house.
The pronoun oma is also declined when it stands alone, without an accompanying noun.
- Sinu lapsed on juba suured, aga minu omad on veel väiksed. --- Your children are already big but mine are still small.
- Tema arvutil on puutetundlik ekraan, aga minu omal pole. --- He's computer has a touchscreen but mine doesn't.
- Maria vihikusse on kirjutatud palju, aga Leila omasse väga vähe. --- A lot has been written to Maria's notebook but very little to Leila's.
3. Reciprocal pronouns
Reciprocal pronouns are used for expressing mutual actions or relationship; i.e. one another, each other.
There are two of them in Estonian: üksteise 'each other's' (of more than two people) and teineteise 'each other's' (of two people). Both of them lack the plural forms and the singular nominative.
- Näib, et kõik need inimesed on kuidagi üksteisega seotud. --- Seems like all of these people are somehow connected to each other.
- Marta ja Jaan vaatasid teineteisele otsa. --- Marta and Jaan looked at each other.
- Laurale ja Martinile meeldib teineteisega aega veeta. --- Laura and Martin like spending time with each other.
4. Demonstrative pronouns
Demonstrative pronouns are used to point to something specific within a sentence.
In the table below you can find the most used demonstrative pronouns declined in the first 3 cases. (The other 11 cases are declined regurarly, by adding the appropriate endings to the genitive)
|That kind (of)||selline||sellise||sellist|
|This kind (of)||niisugune||niisuguse||niisugust|
- Selle raamatu loed sa ühe õhtuga läbi. --- You will finish this book in one night.
- Panin lauale vihiku. Võta see homme kaasa! --- I put a notebook on the table. Take this with you tomorrow!
- Tollel aastal oli kevad väga külm. --- The spring was very cold that year.
5. Interrogative-relative pronouns
Interrogative-relative pronouns are those which refer to nouns mentioned previously, acting to introduce an adjective (relative) clause or those which introduce a question.
|What kind of / which one||missugune||missuguse||missugust|
|Who or which (of the two)||kumb||kumma||kumba|
|Which kind (of)||milline||millise||millist|
- See mees, kes seal kõnnib, on ilmselt purjus. --- That man who is walking there is probably drunk.
- Vaadake kutsikad üle ja otsustage, missugust te tahate. --- Look at all the puppies and decide which one do you want.
- Kumba sa rohkem armastad, kas mind või teda? --- Whom do you love more, me or him?
6. Indefinite pronouns
Indefinite pronouns refer to one or more unspecified objects, beings, or places.
|A single (something)||ükski||ühegi||ühtegi|
|Everyone, everything, all (singular)||kõik||kõige||kõike|
|Everyone, everything, all (plural)||kõik||kõigi||kõiki|
|All of, the whole of||kogu||-||-|
- Mati on mõlema poja isa. --- Mati is the father of both sons.
- Ma tahan seda öelda kogu maailmale. --- I want to tell it to the whole world.
- Kas sa tead kedagi, kes töötab pangas? --- Do you know someone who works in the bank?
Continue to the exercises to practice pronouns in Estonian!
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