German reflexive pronouns
What are reflexive pronouns in German?
Reflexive pronouns ensure that the action expressed by the predicate is reflected on the subject. They linked to specific verbs that require reflective pronominal use, the so-called reflexive or reciprocal verbs.
Declension of German reflexive pronouns
Reflexive pronouns are declined by their...
- ... number (singular, plural)
- ... case (nominative, accusative, dative)
|1st person singular||ich||mich||mir||myself|
|2nd person singular||du||dich||dir||yourself|
|3rd person singular||er / sie / es||sich||sich||him- /her- / itself|
|1st person plural||wir||uns||uns||ourselves|
|2nd person plural||ihr||euch||euch||yourselves|
|3rd person plural||sie||sich||sich||themselves|
Reflexive pronouns equal personal pronouns, except the 3rd-person forms in singular and plural.
The nominative case is used to express the subject. For this reason thee are no reflective forms to the nominative. It coincide with the personal pronoun.
- Das bin ich. - That's me.
- Wohin gehst du? - Where do you go?
Verbs and prepositions which require accusative
sich auf den Weg machen
to set off
to know about (something)
to be wrong
- Ich bereite mich für die Prüfung vor. - I prepare myself for the exam.
- Sie wäscht sich. - She washes herself.
Verbs and prepositions which require dative
sich etwas denken
sich Mühe geben
sich Zeit lassen
sich Sorgen machen
sich etwas merken
to think something
make an effort
to take yourself time
to memorize something
to introduce oneself
- Er kocht sich ein Ei. - He cooks (himself) an egg.
- Du machst dir Sorgen. - You worry.
There is no genitive case of reflexive pronouns!
Usage and function of reflexive pronouns
Reflexive pronouns can be used to reflect an action to oneself or to indicate a reciprocal action between two or more people or things.
These verbs need a reflexive pronoun to refer to oneself.
- Er schneidet sich. - he cuts himself.
- Ich wünsche mir viel Glück. - I wish myself good luck.
These verbs need a reflexive pronoun to refer to each other. They are exclusively used in plural form.
- Wir lieben uns. - We love each other.
- Sie verstehen sich. - They understand each other.
The position of German reflexive pronouns in a sentence
Unlike in English the reflexive pronoun can occupy different positions in sentences in German.
- Third position: in a main sentence, immediately after the subject and the conjugate verb.
- Fourth position: in a main sentence, when the first place is already occupied by another element and follows verb and subject.
- Before or after the subject: depending on the length of the subject can precede or follow it.
- It can not only stand in the main sentence. It can also be part of a secondary sentences.
Er hat sich heute ein neues Auto gekauft. - He bought himself a new car today.
|4th posiion||Heute hat er sich ein neues Auto gekauft. - Today he bought himself a new car.|
Before or after the subject
Seit langem wollte Hans sich ein neues Auto kaufen. - Since a long time hans wated to buy (himself) a car.
Seit langem wollte sich Hans ein neues Auto kaufen. - Since a long time Hans wated to buy (himself) a car.
Hans ist aufgeregt, weil er sich heute ein neues Auto gekauft hat. - Hans is excited because he bought (himself) a new car today.
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