The Reflexive Pronoun "себя"

The reflexive pronoun себя forms a separate class of Russian pronouns, because its meaning is distinct from that of pronouns of all other classes. The reflexive pronoun себя indicates that an action being performed is directed onto the person who performs this action. For example:

Он моет себя.
He washes himself.

Он что-то сказал себе.
He said something to himself.

In Russian language, the same meaning may be obtained by adding the suffix -ся to some verbs, because this suffix originated from the reflexive pronoun. For example:

to wash up

to dress

The reflexive pronoun себя can be used with the first, second or third person. In the following examples, notice that the pronoun себя does not change by person, but you should think of the person to say the same sentence in English.

Я видел себя в зеркале.
I saw myself in the mirror.

Ты видел себя в зеркале.
You saw yourself in the mirror.

Они видели себя в зеркале.
They saw themselves in the mirror.

The reflexive pronoun does not have gender and number. It changes by cases, but does not have the nominative form.

Case Pronoun
Nominative --
Genitive себя
Dative себе
Accusative себя
Instrumental собой
Prepositional (o) себе

The reflexive pronoun is used in all cases except the nominative.

The Genitive:
Все инструменты он кладёт около себя.

The Dative:
Отец купил себе ружьё.

The Accusative:
Отец чувствует себя прекрасно.

The Instrumental:
Он доволен собой.

The Prepositional:
Отец всегда уверен в себе и любит рассказывать о себе.

The reflexive pronouns are widely used in Russian proverbs:

Не кричи о себе, пусть другие о тебе хоть тихо скажут.

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Pronunciation: [vzglyat]

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