Proto-Indo-European pronouns

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Proto-Indo-European pronouns have been reconstructed by modern linguists, based on similarities found across all Indo-European languages. This article lists and discusses the hypothesised forms.

PIE pronouns, especially demonstrative pronouns, are difficult to reconstruct because of their variety in later languages.

Grammatical categories[edit]

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[edit]

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), but not for gender. 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[edit]

As for demonstratives, Beekes[4] tentatively reconstructs a system with only two pronouns: *so "this, that" and *h₁e "the (just named)" (anaphoric, reconstructed as *ei- by Fortson[5]). 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[5]
  • *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[edit]

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 (Beekes)[6]
Accusative *se
Genitive *seue, *sei
Dative *sebʰio, *soi

Relative pronoun[edit]

PIE had a relative pronoun with the stem *(H)yo-.[7][8]

Interrogative/indefinite pronoun[edit]

There was also a pronoun with the stem *kʷe- / *kʷi- (adjectival *kʷo-) used both as an interrogative and an indefinite pronoun.[5][9]

Interrogative pronoun (Sihler[10])
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[edit]

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.[11] They included at least *ályos "other, another"[5] (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,[12]

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[citation needed]

1st sg. oblique *me Ved. mām, Av. mąm, Gk. ἐμέ, Lat. mē,[12]

Eng. mec/me, Gm. mih/mich, Du. mij,

Osset./Pers. mæn, Umb. mehe, Ir. mé/mé, Welsh mi, Russ. mne, Alb. mua, Venet. mego[citation needed]

1st pl. nom. *we-i Hitt. wēš, Ved. vayám, Av. vaēm, Goth. wit (dual), weis, Toch. was/wes,[12]

Eng. wē/we, Gm. wir/wir, Du. wij,

Pers. vayam/?, ON vit;vér, Lith. vedu[citation needed]

1st pl. oblique *nō̆s Hitt. anzāš, Gk. νώ (dual), Lat. nōs, Goth. ugkis (dual), uns, Toch. ñäś (sg.),[12]

Gm. unish/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[citation needed]

2nd sg. *tī̆ (*tū̆) / *te Hitt. tuk, Ved. tvám, Av. tū, Gk. σύ, Doric τύ, Lat. tū, Goth. þu, Toch. tu/tuwe, OCS ty[13]

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[citation needed]

2nd pl. nom. *yū(H)s Ved. yūyám, Av. yūš, Gk. ὑμεῖς, Goth. jūs, Toch. yas/yes,[13]

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[citation needed]

2nd pl. oblique *wō̆s Lat. vōs,[13]

Skr. vas, Av. vō, Umb. uestra, OPruss. wans, Pol. wy, was, Russ. vy, vas,[citation needed] 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[5]

Old Eng. se, seo, thæt, Russ. tot, ta, to[citation needed]

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"[5]

Skr. it[citation needed]

Demonstrative / adverbial particle *ḱi(-) Lat. cis, Eng. he/he, Gm. hiu-tagu/heute "on this day, today", OCS sĭ, Lith. šìs,[5]

ON hér, Goth. hita, Eng. hit/it, Gm. hiar/hier, Russ. sije[citation needed]

Reflexive *s(w)e- Ved. sva-yám, Av. xᵛāi, Gk. ἑ-, Lat. sē, sibi, suus, Ir. fa(-dessin)/?, OCS sę,[5]

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[citation needed]

Relative *(H)yo- Ved. yá-, Av. ya-, Gk. ὅ-, Proto-Celtic *yo-[5]
Interrogative pronoun *kʷi-s (m, f), *kʷi-d (n) Hitt. kuiš, Luw. kuiš, Gk. τίς, Lat. quis, quid, Ir. cia, Eng. hwī/–, OCS čĭto[5]

Lyc. tike, Lyd. qi-, Osset. či, Pers. čiy/ki, Osc. pisi, Umb. púí, svepis, ON hverr, Welsh pwi,[citation needed] 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[5]

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[citation needed]

"(an)other" *alyo- Gk. ἄλλος, Lat. alius, Goth. aljis, Ir. ail/eile, Toch. ālak/alyek,[5]

Gm. eli-lenti "in another land, expelled" / elend "miserable, wretched",[14] Eng. elles/else,

Lyd. aλaś, Skr. araṇa, Osc. allo, ON elligar, Gaul. alla, Arm. ayl[citation needed]

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



  • Beekes, Robert S. P. (2011), Comparative Indo-European Linguistics: An Introduction, ISBN 90-272-1185-X
  • Fortson, Benjamin W., IV (2004), Indo-European Language and Culture, Blackwell Publishing, ISBN 1-4051-0316-7
  • Grebe, Paul (1963), Duden Etymologie (in German), Mannheim: Bibliographisches Institut, ISBN 3-411-00907-1
  • Sihler, Andrew L. (1995), New Comparative Grammar of Greek and Latin, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-508345-8

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