Reflexive Pronouns

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Reflexive Pronouns

Reflexive pronouns (in English forms like myself, yourself, himself, herself, ourselves, yourselves, and themselves) are used obligatorily when referring back to another noun that has been named in the same clause, e.g., John loves himself (himself refers back to John). In other words they are used as anaphors.

In Gaelic, unlike English (but used this way in Irish English and Hebredean English), reflexive pronouns can also be used as Emphasis. In such uses, they are not anaphoric (i.e. they don't refer back to a previous noun). For example, they can be used in subject position: Tha è fhèin a' tighinn (Literally "himself is coming", but colloquially HE is coming.)

In Gaelic the reflexive is formed by attaching fhèin (sometimes fhìn in the first person) to either basic grade or emphatic grade pronouns. This is usually written as a separate word.

person Singular Plural
1st mi fhìn or mi fhèin sinn fhèin
2nd thu fhèin sibh fhèin
3rd masc e fhèin iad fhèin
3rd fem i fhèin


  • The choice of fhìn or fhèin with the 1st person singular is a matter of dialect. In Skye the form fhìn is more frequently used than fhèin
  • Also: mise fhìn, thusa fhèin, esan fhèin, ise fhèin, sinne fhèin, sibhse fhèin, and iadsan fhèin.


Chuir Jill uimpe fhèin gu cabhagach.
put.pst Jill on.3sg.f self adv hurry
'Jill dressed herself hurriedly.' (Levin)

  • Virtual reflexive alternation
Cha mhòr nach gear an fheòil seo i fhèin.
Neg big Neg.C cut.fut the meat Prox 3sg.f Refl
'This meat (practically) cuts itself.' (Levin)

Fosglaidh an uinneag i fhèin.
open.fut the window 3sg.f Refl
'The window opens itself.' (Levin)

  • Reflexive of appearance
Thaisbean fuasgladh dhan a' cheist e fhèin an dè.
present.pst solution to.def the question 3sg.m Refl yesterday
'A solution to the problem presented itself yesterday.' (Levin)

  • Obligatory reflexive object
Shleuchd an t-sagart e fhèin.
prostrate.pst the priest 3sg.m Refl
'The priest prostrated himself.' (Levin)