The reflexive pronouns

 

Reflexive pronouns are inflected according to person, number and case. The first and second person singular and plural forms of the reflexive pronoun are identical to those of the personal pronouns. Reflexive pronouns are never used in the nominative and are rarely used in the genitive.

 

singular
 
1. person
2. person
3. person
masculine
feminine
neuter
dative
mir
dir
sich
accusative
mich
dich

 

plural
 
1. person
2. person
3. person
dative
uns
euch
sich
accusative

 


 

 

The reflexive pronoun agrees with the sentence object in person and number.

 

Example 1
Ich
will
mich
im Urlaub vor allem erholen.
1. person
 
1. person
 
singular
 
singular
 
       
Example 2
Ihr
interessiert
euch
für Politik.
2. person
 
2. person
 
plural
 
plural
 

 


 

 

With verbs that are only used as reflexive, the reflexive pronoun is considered part of the verb and does not express a reflexive meaning. This also applies to reflexive verbs I, which can be used as reflexive but not exclusively as such.

 

Examples  
Sie muss sich beeilen. verbs only used as reflexive
Er ärgert sich sehr darüber. verbs used also as reflexive (group I)

 

 

On the other hand, in regard to verbs of group II, the reflexive pronoun is the object of these verbs and is identical to the subject.

 

Sie wäscht sich jeden Tag. verbs used also as reflexive (group II)
       
 

 

 

Depending on verb valency, a reflexive pronoun can be an accusative, dative or prepositional object.

 

Examples  
Wann ziehst du dich an? accusative object
Ich kaufe mir ein neues Handy. dative object
Sie kann auf sich nicht aufpassen. prepositional object

 


 

 

Reflexive or personal pronouns in infinitive or participle clauses

 

The following rule usually applies to infinitive or participle clauses.

 

 

 

 

Rule: The reflexive pronoun refers to the subject of the infinitive or the participle and the personal pronoun to the subject of the clause. However, this does not happen when a preposition is present. In this case, only the reflexive pronoun can be used, referring either to the subject of the clause or the subject of the infinitive/participle.

 

Examples    
Ich sehe ihn sich anziehen. reflexive pronoun refers to the infinitive subject
verb + accusative object + infinitive
Das Kind sah seine Mutter es anziehen. personal pronoun refers to the clause subject
Er hörte die Leute über sich lachen. reflexive pronoun refers to the clause or the infinitive subject
Er forderte sie auf, sich darüber zu informieren. reflexive pronoun refers to the infinitive subject
infinitive clause
Er forderte sie auf, ihn darüber zu informieren. personal pronoun refers to the clause subject
Sie sah ihrer sich schminkenden Schwester zu. reflexive pronoun refers to the participle subject
participle clause
Sie sah ihrer sie schminkenden Schwester zu. personal pronoun refers to the clause subject

 

 


 

 

The reflexive pronoun as a reciprocal pronoun

 

Reflexive pronouns in the plural number can also be used as reciprocal pronouns.

 

Examples
Wir haben uns begrüßt.     Wir haben einander begrüßt.
Sie haben sich getroffen. Sie haben einander getroffen.
reflexive pronoun reciprocal pronoun