Pronouns may seem small and trivial, but they are actually key to speaking a language in a fluent, natural way.

Moien and welcome back to Language Basics!As you may have noticed, we have been tackling some "proper" grammar recently. Tenses, cases, and now pronouns? We've certainly come a long way since we've learned to say Moien in our first lesson!Pronouns are part of those things that might seem almost insignificant at first, but they can actually really trip you up. Linguistically speaking, a pronoun is a word or a group of words that you can use as a substitute for a noun or a noun phrase. Sounds confusing? Here's an easy example to illustrate the concept:Instead of saying "There is Emma. Emma speaks to Patrick. Patrick is her co-worker," you can use pronouns to say "There is Emma. She speaks to Patrick, who is her co-worker."In today's lesson, we will look at the four groups of pronouns that exist in Luxembourgish: personal pronouns, relative pronouns, reflexive pronouns, and the very exciting group of partitive pronouns.

Personal Pronouns




 Ech ("I")

 mech ("me")

 mir ("to me")

 Du ("You")

 dech ("you")

 dir ("to you")

 Hien / Hatt / Si ("He / She")

 hien / hatt / si ("him / her")

 him / him / hir ("to him / her")

 Mir ("We")

 eis ("us")

 eis ("to us")

 Dir ("You")

 iech ("you")

 iech ("to you")

 Si ("They")

 si ("them")

 hinnen ("to them")

Remember also there are two forms for "she": Hatt and Si. We use hatt in informal speech and si in formal speech. Consider the following example sentence:She works at a bank.If we translate this as Hatt schafft op enger Bank, the hatt implies familiarity, e.g., "My friend Michelle works at a bank". If we translate the sentence as Si schafft op enger Bank, the si implies a certain distance between us and the person we're talking about, e.g., "My neighbour, Ms Welter, works at a bank".

Relative Pronouns

Besides personal pronouns, relative pronouns are probably the most used type of pronoun. Relative pronouns are used to conjoin relative clauses and generally "refer back" to someone or something that was mentioned in the "first part". Common relative pronouns in English include "which", "that", "who", "whom", and "whose".If you followed these lessons regularly, you may have already guessed that we have to watch out for grammatical gender when using relative pronouns in Luxembourgish. Here are some examples to illustrate:He works with a man who is inexperienced -> Hie schafft mat engem Mann, deen onerfueren ass. (masculine, singular)He speaks with a woman who is sad -> Hie schwätzt mat enger Fra, déi traureg ass (female, singular)He plays with a child who is happy -> Hie spilt mat engem Kand, dat glécklech ass (neuter, singular)The plural is the same for all genders and for both the nominative and the accusative case: déi.Relative pronouns can, of course, also be used with the dative case:I know a man who likes this song -> Ech kennen e Mann, deem dëst Lidd gefältI know a woman who likes this song -> Ech kennen eng Fra, där dëst Lidd gefältI know a child who likes this song -> Ech kennen e Kand, deem dëst Lidd gefältThe dative plural is also the same for all genders: deenen.

Reflexive pronouns

Reflexive pronouns refer to another noun or pronoun within the same sentence. In English, they usually end in -self or -selves, e.g., myself, ourselves, or yourself. In Luxembourgish, reflexive pronouns can be used in the accusative or dative. Let's look at the verb sech wäschen ("to wash oneself"), which is used with the accusative:I wash myself-> Ech wäsche mechYou wash yourself-> Du wäschs dechHe / She washes himself / herself-> Hien / Hatt wäscht sechWe wash ourselves-> Mir wäschen eisYou wash yourselves-> Dir wäscht iechThey wash themselves-> Si wäschen sech

And now let's compare this to the verb sech eppes kafen ("to buy oneself something"), which is used with the dative:I bought myself a TV -> Ech hu mir eng Tëlee kafYou bought yourself a TV -> Du hues dir eng Tëlee kafHe / She bought himself / herself a TV -> Hien / Hatt huet sech eng Tëlee kafWe bought ourselves a TV -> Mir hunn eis eng Tëlee kafYou bought yourselves a TV -> Dir hutt iech eng Tëlee kafThey bought themselves a TV -> Si hu sech eng Tëlee kafThe thinking here is basically the same as with using the accusative and dative cases in general. If you missed it or forgot, you can check out our previous Language Basics article to get you up to speed.

Partitive Pronouns

Partitive pronouns are a bit weird but also quite interesting. There are only two of them: der and där. They are used to express "partialness" and they are nearly impossible to translate into English. Let's have a look at an example to illustrate this:Hues du nach Bananen? Jo, ech hunn der nach.In English, we would say "Do you still have bananas? Yes, I do". But if we translate the second part of the Luxembourgish sentence literally and word-for-word, we get this: "Yes, I have them still". We use the partitive pronoun der to refer back to the bananas mentioned in the intial question.The second partitive pronoun, där, is even more specific, and can be used to select a subgroup from a larger group of something. As always, it is best to just illustrate with an example:Hues du nach vegetaresch Pizzaen? Jo, ech hunn där nach.The question this time is "Do you still have vegetarian pizzas?". We could use der again here, but we could also be more specific by using där. Note that the question is not "Do you have pizzas?" (as in: Do you have pizzas in general / any type of pizza in your freezer?"), it is "Do you have vegetarian pizzas?" (as in: Do you have this specific type of pizza in your freezer?"). By replying with Jo, ech hunn där nach, we are saying something like "Yes, I still have that specific type of pizza".