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 próprio self or mesmo same 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
Ti & Contigo
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 próprio He laughs at himself is preferred to Ele ri-se dele próprio He laughs at himself