Reflexive pronouns tell you that an action is done to oneself (i.e. the object is the same as the subject). In English, we use words like myself, herself, and ourselves to express this idea. If you want to read more about Portuguese reflexive pronouns, we also cover them in the Clitic Pronouns unit here. In order to make it easier to spot and understand the differences, we’ll be using the same examples throughout this Learning Note.
As you’ll see below, clitic pronouns (such as -me) are often used along with tonic pronouns (such as mim) to emphasize the object in reference: Desenhei-me a mim.I drew myself.
In some cases, it is also helpful to add the words próprioself or mesmosame to emphasize the reflexive nature of the verb even more and make the meaning less ambiguous: Ela desenhou-se a si própria.She drew herself.
…but this is optional if you’ve already used a clitic pronoun, as in this example: Desenhaste-te a ti (mesmo).You drew yourself.
Explore the examples in each category below to help clarify these concepts…
- The first example of each category shows you how to use clitic pronouns and tonic pronouns together. Using próprio or mesmo is usually optional here.
- The second example shows how to add próprio or mesmo along with a tonic pronoun. Since no clitic pronouns are used, adding these words makes the reflexivity more obvious.
- The third example shows how to combine the pronoun with the preposition com with
Mim & Comigo
Desenhei-me a mim.I drew myself.
Fiz isto a mim próprio.I did this to myself.
Trouxe o cão comigo.I brought the dog with me.
Ti & Contigo
Desenhaste-te a ti (mesmo).You drew yourself.
Fizeste isto a ti próprio.You did this to yourself.
Trouxeste o cão contigo.You brought the dog with you.
Ele(s) & Ela(s)
A Joana desenhou-se a ela (mesma).Joana drew herself.
Ela desenhou-se a si própria.She drew herself.
Trouxeram o cão com eles.They brought the dog with them.
Eles trouxeram o cão consigo.They brought the dog with them.
Although all of these sentences are correct, the use of si is more common than ele(s)/ela(s), as it usually sounds better. In other words, Ele ri-se de si próprioHe laughs at himself is preferred to Ele ri-se dele próprioHe laughs at himself
Nós & Connosco
Desenhámo-nos a nós (próprios).We drew ourselves.
Fizemos isto a nós próprios.We did this to ourselves.
Trouxemos o cão connosco.We brought the dog with us.
Vocês & Convosco
Desenharam-se a vocês (mesmos).You drew yourselves.
Fizeram isto a vocês mesmos.You did this to yourselves.
Trouxeram o cão convosco.You brought the dog with you.