Personal pronouns – nominative, accusative, dative, reflexive

Nominative

ich – I
du – you (friendly, informal form)

er – he
sie – she
es – it

wir -we
ihr – you (plural, e.g.: you all)
sie – they
Sie – you (polite, formal form, both in the singular and the plural)

Nominative forms are used before the verb as in English (e.g.: Ich fahre, du liest, wir sitzen). These forms are used alone too, involving the meaning of a verb that is not repeated after the pronoun (e.g. Wer wohnt hier? – Ich. – Who lives here? – Me.)

Accusative

mich – me
dich – you (friendly, informal form)

ihn – him
sie – her
es – it

uns -us
euch – you (plural, e.g.: you all)
sie – them
Sie – you (polite, formal form, both in the singular and the plural)

examples:

Ich liebe dich (I love you).
Er hasst es (He hates it).
Sie besuchen uns (They visit us).

Dative

mir- (to) me
dir – (to) you (friendly, informal form)

ihm – (to) him
ihr – (to) her
ihm – (to) it

uns – (to) us
euch – (to) you (plural, e.g.: you all)
ihnen – (to) them
Ihnen – (to) you (polite, formal form, both in the singular and the plural)

Examples: Er gibt mir die Zeitung (He gives the newspaper to me ). Wir schreiben ihnen (We write to them).

 

Reflexive accusative

mich – myself
dich – yourself (friendly, informal form)
sich – himself, herself, itself

uns – ourselves
euch – yourselves
sich – themselves; yourself  (polite, formal form, both in the singular and the plural)

These pronouns are mostly used with reflexive verbs. The subject of reflexive verbs is the same as their (direct) object. These verbs are used together with reflexive pronouns. In English these verbs are usually used without a reflexive pronoun.

Example: Ich wasche mich (I wash [implying “myself”, not something or someone else)

There are reflexive verbs that use the reflexive pronouns although they do not really have a reflexive meaning, e.g. sich beeilen (to be in a hurry):

Ich beeile mich (I am in a hurry)

Reflexive dative

mir – (for) myself
dir – (for) yourself (friendly, informal form)
sich – (for) himself, (for) herself, (for) itself

uns – (for) ourselves
euch – (for) yourselves
sich – (for) themselves; yourself  (polite, formal form, both in the singular and the plural)

These pronouns are also mostly used with certain reflexive verbs. Certain reflexive verbs take a reflexive pronoun in the dative, because they have a reflexive dative meaning. In the dictionaries these verbs are marked with a letter D after the pronoun sich:

sich (D) ein Beispiel nehmen (an) = to follow somebody’s example
sich (D) vorstellen = to imagine (incl: to yourself)

Ich nehme mir an meinem Vater ein Beispiel = I follow my father’s example.
Stell dir vor, was ich gestern gesehen habe! = Imagine what I saw yesterday.

Sich vorstellen can be used with an accusative sich too, but with different meaning:

Ich stelle mich vor = I introduce myself.

Dative forms of reflexive pronouns are used with a reflexive verb if the verb has another argument as a direct object. E.g.: I wash my hands – “my hands” is a direct object, and the action has an effect on the subject itself (the possessive adjective “my” refers to this fact). So, in this case we could say “Ich wasche mich” (I wash – myself) or “Ich wasche meine Hände” (I wash my hands). But more likely we would use a reflexive dative pronoun instead of the possessive adjective:

Example: Ich wasche mir die Hände (I wash my hands). ( = Ich wasche mich + Ich wasche meine Hände.)

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