Latin Reflexive Pronouns
Latin reflexive pronouns function similarly to English’s. There are Latin reflexive pronouns for all of the personal pronouns. To form Latin’s reflexive pronoun, first determine the subject of the pronoun (nominative case) and then determine the use of the reflexive pronoun in the sentence to match the correct case (genitive, dative, accusative, or ablative). Latin’s reflexive pronouns are:
1st person: ego, mei, mihi, me, me
2nd person: tu, tui, tibi, te, te
3rd person: is (ea, id), sui, sibi, se, se
1st person: nos, nostri, nobis, nos, nobis
2nd person: vos, vestri, vobis, vos, vobis
3rd person: ei (eae, ea), sui, sibi, se, se
Some example sentences include:
Me legere docuit. (I taught myself to read)
Sibi librum novum emit. (He bought a new book for himself)
De se scripserunt. (They wrote about themselves)
There is one quirk about Latin’s reflexive pronouns that give students trouble. Notice that the singular and plural forms of the 3rd-person reflexive pronouns are identical for the genitive though ablative cases. This is because there is never any ambiguity whether the noun to which a 3rd-person reflexive pronoun refers is singular or plural.
Since the pronoun always refers back to a subject, (unlike other ambiguous pronouns) there is no need for separate singular and plural forms. However, when translating from Latin to English, the student must take care to indicate in the English sentence whether the reflexive pronoun is singular (as in himself, herself, or itself) or plural (as in themselves). Whereas Latin does not distinguish singular and plural 3rd-person reflexive pronouns, English does.