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Reflexive Pronouns

March 30, 2019

Portuguese reflexive verbs are formed by adding the reflexive pronouns me, te, se, or nos. When the direct object or indirect object represents the same person or thing as the subject of the verb, it’s expressed by a reflexive pronoun.

In other words, we use reflexive pronouns when the action is something one does to oneself. In English, this would be words like myself, yourself, himself, ourselves, themselves, etc. For example, in the sentence “She convinced herself”, she is both the subject and the object, so we use herself as the reflexive pronoun.

You’ve probably come across some of these in earlier units and wondered how they work. For example:

  • Como te chamas? paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio What’s your name? (sing.,inf.) – Literally, “What do you call yourself?”
  • Chamo-me Joel paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio My name is Joel – Literally, “I call myself Joel”

Reflexive pronouns are clitic pronouns. A clitic is similar to an affix because it goes along with the verb rather than standing on its own. You’ll learn about the other clitics in more detail in a later unit. Luckily, they are mostly the same. Portuguese reflexive pronouns share most of the same pronouns as the Portuguese clitic direct and indirect object pronouns. The only difference is in the 3rd person, both singular and plural: se.

One last thing to note is that clitic pronouns are unstressed. (In another learning note, we’ll cover si and consigo, which are stressed pronouns.)

Reflexive Pronouns in Portuguese

Here are the reflexive pronouns that correspond to each subject pronoun.

Subject pronouns Reflexive pronouns
Eu me
Tu te
Ele / Ela / Você se
Nós nos
Eles / Elas / Vocês se

Let’s have a look at each pronoun individually, using one of the simplest Portuguese reflexive verbs, vestir-se paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio to dress oneself, to get dressed