Reflexive pronouns

(Using German reflexive pronouns)

Table of contents – reflexive pronouns

On this page you will find the following:

  1. Using reflexive pronouns
  2. Use as reciprocal pronouns
  3. Declensional forms of reflexive pronouns
  4. Further explanations and exercises

How do you use reflexive pronouns?

Reflexive pronouns (in German: Reflexivpronomen) are a subcategory of pronouns. They appear as objects and always refer to the subject of the sentence. German reflexive pronouns cannot be in the nominative case but can occur as any object.

The following examples show the different roles that a reflexive pronoun (‘sich, seiner, euer, euch,’ etc.) can take. The subject is represented in green:

  1. Use as a dative object:
    • „Gönn dir doch mal eine Auszeit!“ (Give yourself a break.)
      • imperative sentence without a subject
    • Er kaufte sich ein neues Auto.“ (He bought himself a new car.)
  2. Use as an accusative object (Note: This only applies to verbs used reflexively, not to true reflexive verbs, where it is part of the predicate.):
    • Ich rasiere mich täglich.“ (I shave daily.)
    • Sie erinnerte sich an den Tag.“ (She remembered that day.)
  3. Use as a prepositional object:
    • „Passt auf euch auf!“ (Take care of yourselves.)
      • imperative sentence without a subject
    • Er hält sehr viel von sich.“ (He thinks very highly of himself.)
  4. Use as a genitive object (note that this case is sporadic and only occurs in sophisticated language):
    • Sie schämten sich ihrer.“ (They were ashamed of themselves.)
      • ihrer’ refers to the subject ‘sie’ (they).

When are reflexive pronouns used as reciprocal pronouns?

In German, some verbs with the reflexive pronounsich’ are used in the sense of ‘each other’. In these cases, they are called reciprocal pronouns.

An example of a sentence including ‘sich’ as a reciprocal pronoun would be:

  • „Sie begegneten sich beim Einkaufen.“ (They met while shopping.)

What are the declensional forms of reflexive pronouns?

Reflexive pronouns require declension; the following table lists all inflected forms. Remember that the nominative case is not possible:


Grammatical case 1st person 2nd person 3rd person (masculine) 3rd person (feminine) 3rd person (neuter)
Genitive meiner deiner seiner ihrer seiner
Dative mir dir sich sich sich
Accusative mich dich sich sich sich


Grammatical case 1st person 2nd person 3rd person
Genitive unser euer ihrer
Dative uns euch sich
Accusative uns euch sich

Further explanations relating to the ‘Reflexive pronouns’

The following explanations are related to the ‘Usage of German reflexive pronouns’ and can be interesting too: