Proto-Indo-European pronouns

The pronouns of the Proto-Indo-European language (PIE) have been reconstructed by modern linguists based on similarities found across all Indo-European languages. The following article lists and discusses their hypothesized forms.

PIE pronouns are difficult to reconstruct due to their variety in later languages. This is especially the case for demonstrative pronouns.

Grammatical categories

PIE pronouns inflected for case and number, and partly for gender. For more information on these categories, see the article on Proto-Indo-European nominals.

Personal pronouns

PIE had personal pronouns in the first and second person, but not the third person, where demonstratives were used instead. They were inflected for case and number (singular, dual, and plural). The personal pronouns had their own unique forms and endings, and some had two distinct stems; this is most obvious in the first person singular, where the two stems are still preserved, as for instance in English I and me. There were also two varieties for the accusative, genitive and dative cases, a stressed and an enclitic form. Many of the special pronominal endings were later borrowed as nominal endings.

The following tables give the paradigms as reconstructed by Beekes[1] and by Sihler.[2]

Beekes' Reconstruction of PIE Personal Pronouns
First person Second person
Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative *h₁eǵ(oH/Hom) *uei *tuH *iuH
Accusative stressed *h₁mé *nsmé *tué *usmé
enclitic *h₁me *nōs *te *uōs
Genitive stressed *h₁méne *ns(er)o- *teue *ius(er)o-
enclitic *h₁moi *nos *toi *uos
Dative stressed *h₁méǵʰio *nsmei *tébʰio *usmei
enclitic *h₁moi *ns *toi ?
Instrumental *h₁moí ? *toí ?
Ablative *h₁med *nsmed *tued *usmed
Locative *h₁moí *nsmi *toí *usmi
Sihler's Reconstruction of PIE Personal Pronouns
First person Second person
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
Nominative *eǵoH *weh₁ *we-i *tī̆ (*tū̆) *yuh₁ (*yūh₁?) *yūs (*yuHs?)
Accusative tonic *m-mé (> *mé) *n ̥h₁-wé *n̥smé *twé *uh₁-wé *usmé
enclitic *me *nō̆h₁ *nō̆s *te *wō̆h₁ *wō̆s
Genitive tonic *mé-me *n̥sóm *té-we *usóm
enclitic *mos (adj.) *nō̆s *tos (adj.) *wō̆s
Dative tonic *mébhi *n̥sm-éy *tébhi *usm-éy
enclitic *mey, *moy? *nō̆s *tey, *toy *wō̆s
Ablative *mm-ét (> *mét) *n̥sm-ét *tw-ét *usm-ét

Other reconstructions typically differ only slightly from Beekes and Sihler (see for example Fortson 2004[3]).

Demonstrative pronouns

As for demonstratives, Beekes[1] tentatively reconstructs a system with only two pronouns: *so "this, that" and *h₁e "the (just named)" (anaphoric, reconstructed as *ei- by Fortson[4]). He gives the following paradigms:

Demonstrative pronouns (Beekes)
Singular Plural
Masculine Neuter Feminine Masculine Neuter Feminine
Nominative *so *tod *seh₂ *toi *teh₂ *seh₂i??
Accusative *tóm *teh₂m *tons *teh₂ns
Genitive *(to)sio *(t)eseh₂s *tesom? *tesom?
Ablative *tosmōd *toios?
Dative *tosmōi *tesieh₂ei *toimus *teh₂mus?
Locative *tosmi *tesieh₂i *toisu *teh₂su?
Instrumental *toi? *toi? *toibʰi *teh₂bʰi?
Nominative *h₁e *(h₁)id *(h₁)ih₂ *h₁ei *ih₂ *ih₂es
Accusative *im *ih₂m *ins *ih₂ns
Genitive *h₁éso *h₁eseh₂s? *h₁es(om)
Ablative *h₁esmōd *h₁eios?
Dative *h₁esmōi *h₁esieh₂ei *h₁eimus
Locative *h₁esmi *h₁esieh₂i *h₁eisu
Instrumental *h₁ei? *h₁eibʰi

Beekes also postulates three adverbial particles, from which demonstratives were constructed in various later languages:

  • *ḱi "here" (reconstructed as a demonstrative *ḱi- "this" by Fortson[4] and as *ḱo-s (m), *ḱo-h₂ (f), *ḱo-d (n) by other scholars),
  • *h₂en "there" and
  • *h₂eu "away, again",
Demonstrative pronouns (Sihler)
Singular Plural
Masculine Neuter Feminine Masculine Neuter Feminine
Nominative *so *tod *seh₂, *sih₂ *toy *teh₂ *teh₂s
Accusative *tom *teh₂m *toms *teh₂ms
Genitive *tosyo *tosyeh₂s *toysō̆m *teh₂sō̆m
Ablative *tosmōd *tosyeh₂s *toybʰ- *teh₂bʰ-
Dative *tosmey *tosyeh₂ey *toybʰ- *teh₂bʰ-
Locative *tosmi ? *toysu *teh₂su
Instrumental ? ? ? ?
Nominative *is *id *ih₂ *eyes *ih₂ *ih₂es
Accusative *im *ih₂m *ins *ih₂ms
Genitive *esyo *esyeh₂s *eysom
Ablative *esmod *esyeh₂s *eybʰ-
Dative *esmey *esyeh₂ey *eybʰ-
Locative *esmi ? *eysu
Instrumental ? ?

Reflexive pronoun

A third-person reflexive pronoun *s(w)e-, parallel to the first and second person singular personal pronouns, also existed, though it lacked a nominative form:

Reflexive pronoun
Accusative *se
Genitive *sewe, *sei
Dative *sébʰio, *soi

Relative pronoun

PIE had a relative pronoun with the stem *(H)yo-.[1][5]

Interrogative/indefinite pronoun

There was also a pronoun with the stem *kʷe- / *kʷi- (adjectival *kʷo-) used both as an interrogative and an indefinite pronoun.[6][4]

Interrogative pronoun (Sihler[7])
Pronominal Adjectival
Singular Plural Singular Plural
Masc./Fem. Neuter Masc./Fem. Neuter Masculine Neuter Feminine Masculine Neuter Feminine
Nominative *kʷis *kʷid *kʷeyes *kʷih₂ *kʷos *kʷod *kʷeh₂ *kʷoy *kʷeh₂ *kʷeh₂(e)s
Accusative *kʷim *kʷims *kʷom *kʷeh₂m *kʷoms *kʷeh₂ms
Dative *kʷesmey *kʷeybh- *kʷosmey ? ?
Genitive *kʷesyo *kʷeysom *kʷosyo ? ?
Locative *kʷesmi *kʷeysu ? ? ?

Pronominal adjectives

Proto-Indo-European possessed few adjectives that had a distinct set of endings, identical to those of the demonstrative pronoun above but differing from those of regular adjectives.[8] They included at least *ályos "other, another"[4] (or *h₂élyos?).


Reflexes, or descendants of the PIE reconstructed forms in its daughter languages, include the following.

Type Reconstruction Reflexes
1st sg. nom. *eǵoH Hitt. ūk, Ved. ahám, Av. azəm, Gk. ἐγω(ν), Lat. ego, Goth. ik,[9] Eng. Ic/I, Gm. ih/ich, Du. ik, Bulg. аз\az, Russ. я\ja, Kamviri õc, Carian uk, Osset. æz/æz, Umb. eho, ON ek, Lith. aš, Venet. ego
1st sg. oblique *me Ved. mām, Av. mąm, Gk. ἐμέ, Lat. mē,[9] Eng. mec/me, Gm. mih/mich, Du. mij, Osset./Pers. mæn, Umb. mehe, Ir. mé/mé, Welsh mi, Russ. mne, Alb. mua, Venet. mego
1st pl. nom. *we-i Hitt. wēš, Ved. vayám, Av. vaēm, Goth. wit (dual), weis, Toch. was/wes,[9] Eng. wē/we, Gm. wir/wir, Du. wij, Pers. vayam/?, ON vit;vér, Lith. vedu
1st pl. oblique *nō̆s Hitt. anzāš, Gk. νώ (dual), Lat. nōs, Goth. ugkis (dual), uns, Toch. ñäś (sg.),[9] Gm. unsih/uns, Eng. uncer/us, Du. ons, Skr. nas, Av. nō, Pers. amaxām/?, ON oss, okkr, Ir. ni, Welsh ni, OPruss. noūson, Lith. nuodu, Pol., Russ. nas, Alb. ne
2nd sg. *tī̆ (*tū̆) / *te Hitt. tuk, Ved. tvám, Av. tū, Gk. σύ, Doric τύ, Lat. tū, Goth. þu, Toch. tu/tuwe, OCS ty[10] Gm. thu/du, Eng. þu/thou, Pers. tuva/to, Osset. dy, Kashmiri tsū', Kamviri tü, Umb. tu, tui, Osc. tuvai, ON þú, Ir. tú/tú, Welsh ti, Arm. tu/du, OPruss. toū, Pol. ty, Russ. ty, Lith. tu, Ltv. tu, Alb. ti
2nd pl. nom. *yū(H)s Ved. yūyám, Av. yūš, Gk. ὑμεῖς, Goth. jūs, Toch. yas/yes,[10] Eng. gē/ye; ēow/you, Gm. ir/ihr, Du. jij / gij, ON ykkr, yðr, Arm. dzez/dzez/cez, OPruss. ioūs, Lith. jūs, Ltv. jūs, Alb. juve, ju
2nd pl. oblique *wō̆s Lat. vōs,[10] Skr. vas, Av. vō, Umb. uestra, OPruss. wans, Pol. wy, was, Russ. vy, vas, Alb. u
Demonstrative ("this, that") *so (m), *se-h₂ (f), *to-d (n) Ved. sá, sā, tád, Av. hō, hā, tat̰, Gk. ὁ, ἡ, τό, Goth. sa, so, þata, Icel. sá, sú, það, TochB. se, sā, te[4] Old Eng. se, seo, thæt, Russ. tot, ta, to
Demonstrative ("the just named; this") *h₁e / *ei- Ved. ay-ám, id-ám, Av. īm "him", Lat. is, ea, id, Alb. aì (he, that), ajò (she, that), Goth. is "he"[4] Skr. it
Demonstrative / adverbial particle *ḱi(-) Lat. cis, Eng. he/he, Gm. hiu-tagu/heute "on this day, today", OCS sĭ, Lith. šìs,[4] ON hér, Goth. hita, Eng. hit/it, Gm. hiar/hier, Russ. sije
Reflexive *s(w)e- Ved. sva-yám, Av. xᵛāi, Gk. ἑ-, Lat. sē, sibi, suus, Ir. fa(-dessin)/?, OCS sę,[4] Gm. sih/sich, sin/sein, Du. zich, zijn Carian sfes, Lyd. śfa-, Osc. sífeí, Umb. seso, ON sik, sinn, Goth. sik, Arm. ink῾s, OPruss. sien, sin, Lith. savo, Latv. sevi, Russ. sebe, -sja, Alb. vetë, u, Phryg. ve
Relative *(H)yo- Ved. yá-, Av. ya-, Gk. ὅ-, Proto-Celtic *yo-[4]
Interrogative pronoun *kʷi-s (m, f), *kʷi-d (n) Hitt. kuiš, Luw. kuiš, Gk. τίς, Lat. quis, quid, Ir. cia, Eng. hwī/–, OCS čĭto[4] Lyc. tike, Lyd. qi-, Osset. či, Pers. čiy/ki, Osc. pisi, Umb. púí, svepis, ON hverr, Welsh pwi, Russ. kto, čto, Alb. çë
Interrogative adjective *kʷo-s (m), *kʷe-h₂ (f), *kʷo-d (n) Ved. kás, Av. kō, Gk. ποῦ "where?", pōs "somehow", Goth. ƕas, Lith. kàs, OCS kŭto[4] Eng. hwā/who; hwæt/what, Gm. hwër/wer, Du. wie / wat, Carian kuo, Kashmiri kus, Kamviri kâča, Lat. qui, quae, quod; Arm. ov, inč῾, Toch. kus/kŭse, Ltv. kas, Pol. kto, Russ. kto, Alb. ku, kush, Phryg. kos
"(an)other" *alyo- Gk. ἄλλος, Lat. alius, Goth. aljis, Ir. ail/eile, Toch. ālak/alyek,[4] Gm. eli-lenti "in another land, expelled" / elend "miserable, wretched",[11] Eng. elles/else, Lyd. aλaś, Skr. araṇa, Osc. allo, ON elligar, Gaul. alla, Arm. ayl

In the following languages, two reflexes separated by a slash mean:



External links

  • The dictionary definition of Category:Proto-Indo-European pronouns at Wiktionary
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