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25 Personal and Reflexive Pronouns

2008.16.0698 (XXXI-25)

Grave monument for a daughter of someone named Alexandros, from Phaleron. Roman period. Athenian Agora Excavations.


Personal and Reflexive Pronouns

We have already learned a handful of pronouns that decline either like the definite article or like third declension nouns:

αὐτός -ή -ό self, same, he/she/it

ἐκεῖνος -η -ο that

ὅδε, ἥδε, τόδε this

ὅς, ἥ, ὅ who, which, that

ὅσπερ, ἥπερ, ὅπερ the same who, which, that

ὅστις, ἥτις, ὅ τι anyone/thing who/which

τις, τι (enclitic) someone, something

τίς, τί who? what? which?

 

This chapter introduces FIRST PERSON, SECOND PERSON, REFLEXIVE, and RECIPROCAL PRONOUNS. These pronouns may well seem familiar, since they have been encountered frequently in the readings up to this point.

 

1. First Person Pronoun (I, we)

The inflection of the first person pronoun includes TWO FORMS for the genitive, dative, and accusative singular. The two forms have the same meaning, though the unaccented forms are ENCLITIC and less emphatic.

The accent patterns, case endings, and stem changes are irregular and require memorization, as is the case with the first person pronoun in most languages, including English (S 325; GPH p. 42).

Singular Plural
Nominative ἐγώ ἡμεῖς
Genitive ἐμοῦ, μου ἡμῶν
Dative ἐμοί, μοι ἡμῖν
Accusative ἐμέ, με ἡμᾶς

The stem for this pronoun is ()μo-/()με– in the singular, ἡμε– in the plural. This helps to explain some of the forms, and the fact that the accent for non-enclitics is always on the ultima. For example, ἡμεῖς is derived from ἡμέες. Note that ἐγώ is not associated with these stems (S 326).

 

2. Second Person Pronoun (you)

As with the first person pronoun, the inflection of the second person pronoun includes TWO FORMS for the genitive, dative, and accusative singular. The two forms have the same meaning, though the unaccented forms are ENCLITIC and less emphatic.

The accent patterns, case endings, and stem changes are irregular and require memorization, as is the case with the second person pronoun in many languages (S 325; GPH p. 42).

Singular Plural
Nominative σύ ὑμεῖς
Genitive σοῦ, σου ὑμῶν
Dative σοί, σοι ὑμῖν
Accusative σέ, σε ὑμᾶς

The stem for this pronoun is συ-/σε-/σο– in the singular, ὑμε– in the plural. As with the first person pronoun, the accent of non-enclitics is always on the ultima.

Remember that the NOMINATIVE forms of the first and second person pronouns are often redundant in a sentence, since normally the personal ending of the verb tells you the subject. When they appear, they often add emphasis or are shorthand for a complete statement:

ἐγὼ ἐθέλω μένειν. καὶ σύ;

Well, I want to stay. And you?”

 

3. Reflexive Pronouns 

English combines the personal pronoun and the word –self to form REFLEXIVE PRONOUNS: e.g. You love yourself.  We see ourselves. 

Greek forms REFLEXIVE PRONOUNS in much the same way, combining the personal pronoun with the corresponding (oblique) case, number, and gender form of αὐτός αὐτή αὐτό. Recall that this pronoun is emphatic – and translated as –self – if it is used on its own in the NOMINATIVE, or as an ADJECTIVE in the PREDICATE POSITION.

Note that Greek tends to combine the SINGULAR forms into one word (accent on the ultima), but inflects both pronouns in the PLURAL (S 329; GPH pp. 44-45).

 

a. Reflexive First Person Pronouns (myself, ourselves)

Singular Plural
Nominative (none) (none)
Genitive ἐμαυτοῦ/ῆς ἡμῶν αὐτῶν
Dative ἐμαυτῷ/ῇ ἡμῖν αὐτοῖς/αὐταῖς
Accusative ἐμαυτόν/ήν ἡμᾶς αὐτούς/αὐτάς

 

b. Reflexive Second Person Pronouns (yourself, yourselves):

Singular Plural
Nominative (none) (none)
Genitive σεαυτοῦ/ῆς ὑμῶν αὐτῶν
Dative σεαυτῷ/ῇ ὑμῖν αὐτοῖς/αὐταῖς
Accusative σεαυτόν/ήν ὑμᾶς αὐτούς/αὐτάς

For some authors, the –ε– in the antepenult of the singular forms is elided, resulting in σαυτοῦ/ῆς, σαυτῷ/ῇσαυτόν/ήν.

 

c. Reflexive Third Person Pronouns (himself, herself, itself, themselves):

Attic Greek uses the archaic third person pronoun  to represent he, she, it in its THIRD PERSON REFLEXIVE PRONOUNS. While this pronoun is found in Homer, in later Attic Greek the third person pronoun is more commonly expressed by ἐκεῖνος, oblique forms of αὐτός, and οὗτος (introduced in the next chapter).

The older third person pronoun  does, however, survive in Attic Greek’s THIRD PERSON REFLEXIVE PRONOUN. Note that for this pronoun, Attic Greek combines the personal and reflexive pronouns into one form for both the singular and plural. Note also that the resulting form is accented as though it were a regular first or second declension noun with a persistent ultima accent (S 329; GPH pp. 46-47).

Singular Plural
Nominative (none) (none)
Genitive ἑαυτοῦ/ῆς/οῦ ἑαυτῶν
Dative ἑαυτῷ/ῇ/ῷ ἑαυτοῖς/αῖς/οῖς
Accusative ἑαυτόν/ήν/ό ἑαυτούς/άς/ά

Some Attic Greek authors contract this pronoun. The result is that only the ROUGH BREATHING distinguishes it from the pronoun αὐτός αὐτή αὐτό!

Singular Plural
Nominative (none) (none)
Genitive αὑτοῦ/ῆς/οῦ αὑτῶν
Dative αὑτῷ/ῇ/ῷ αὑτοῖς/αῖς/οῖς
Accusative αὑτόν/ήν/ό αὑτούς/άς/ά

 

4. Reciprocal Pronoun (each other)

Greek has a distinct pronoun that corresponds to the phrase each other. It is called the RECIPROCAL PRONOUN (S 331; GPH p. 51). It is usually found only in the oblique cases of the plural.

οἱ Ἕλληνες ἀλλήλοις μάχονται.

“The Greeks are fighting with each other.”

Singular Plural
Nominative (none) (none)
Genitive (none) ἀλλήλων
Dative (none) ἀλλήλοις/αις
Accusative (none) ἀλλήλους/ας

 

 

– τὸ τέλος –


Key Terms and Concepts

  • FIRST PERSON PRONOUN
  • SECOND PERSON PRONOUN
  • REFLEXIVE FIRST PERSON PRONOUN
  • REFLEXIVE SECOND PERSON PRONOUN
  • REFLEXIVE THIRD PERSON PRONOUN
  • RECIPROCAL PRONOUN

Vocabulary

  • ἐγώ I
  • σύ you
  • ἐμαυτοῦ -ῆς myself
  • σεαυτοῦ -ῆς or σαυτοῦ -ῆς yourself
  • ἑαυτοῦ -ῆς -οῦ or αὑτοῦ -ῆς -οῦ himself/herself/itself
  • ἀλλήλων each another

Exercises

Ι. Memorize the vocabulary, and practice the inflections for each pronoun.

ΙΙ. Translate the following sentences into Greek.

  1. The enemy will see each other on the island.
  2. Panic itself will come to the city.
  3. You are hearing yourself.
  4. My horse is able to walk.
  5. Will you judge yourselves?
  6. will be lord of the earth.
  7. The guest is welcoming you and me.
  8. I prefer to drink your water, not mine.
  9. Their weapons are in their own hands.
  10. The poet is giving me his books.

 

License

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Personal and Reflexive Pronouns by Wilfred E. Major and Michael Laughy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.