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Romanian Pronouns: Personal, Possessive, Relative, and Demonstrative

The most frequently used Romanian pronouns are personal, possessive, relative, and demonstrative. Since the grammar is derived from Latin, pronouns fall into case patterns, just like nouns. Latin-derived unstressed pronouns, as opposed to the stressed ones, increase the number of pronouns currently in use.

Personal Pronouns

In the category of personal pronouns, there are three different degrees of politeness when referring to a second or third person. While the ‘tu’ form is extremely familiar and therefore used only when addressing family members, close friends, and children, it may be considered an insult if addressed to people who do not fall into these categories. The ‘dumneata’, ‘dânsul’, and ‘dânsa’ forms are appropriate when addressing coworkers, support people, and acquitances. ‘Dumneavoastră’ is the safest – official and polite – form of addressing anyone over the age of twenty.

sg. 1st p. eu (I) pl. noi (we)
2nd p. tu (you)

dumneata (you)

dumneavoastră (you)

voi (you)

dumneavoastră (you)

dumneavoastră (you)

3rd p. el (he)

dânsul (he)

dumnealui (he)

ea (she)

dânsa (she)

dumneaei (she)

ei (they)

dânșii (they)

dumnealor (they)

ele (they)

dânsele (they)

dumnealor (they)

These personal pronouns are considered ‘main’ or ‘stressed’ pronouns, and they are quite easy to remember. Unfortunately, because of the verb endings that often indicate the subject of the sentence, the main pronouns are omitted while ‘unstressed’ pronouns, which appear in rather peculiar forms, have a much higher frequency in the language.

The next chart includes main personal pronouns (without the polite forms) and their unstressed forms.

1st p. Sg. N eu Pl. noi
G
D mie, îmi, mi nouă, ne, ne, ni
Ac pe mine, mă, m pe noi, ne
2nd p. Sg. N tu voi
G
D ție, îți, ți vouă, vă, v, vi
Ac pe tine, te pe voi, vă, v
V tu! voi!
3rd p. Sg. N el Pl. ei
ea ele
G
D lui, îi, i lor, le, le, li
ei, îi, i lor, le, le, li
Ac pe el, îl, l pe ei, îi, i
pe ea, o pe ele, le

As in above chart, in the Dative case (mie, îmi, mi / nouă, ne, ni / ție, îți, ți / vouă, vă, vi, v / lui, îi, i / lor, le, li / ei, îi, i / lor, le li) the pronouns appear in front of the verb, regardless of the verb mood or tense:

  • The first pronoun (mie) is used for emphasis and may be omitted, while the rest of the pronouns are mandatory, appearing in different verb tense combinations.

(Mie) îmi place baclavaua.
I like baclava.

  • The second pronouns (îmi, îți, îi, ne, vă) appear in combinations with the Indicative present, imperfect, future (with ‘voi’), simple past, and pluperfect tenses.

Îmi face plăcere să merg pe jos. (Ind. pres.)

I like to walk.

Îți plăcea să mergi la expoziții în România? (Ind. imperf.)

Did you enjoy going to exhibits in Romania?

Îi voi da cartea mâine. (Ind. future with ‘voi’)

I will give him/her the book tomorrow.

La început vă displăcuse ideea, dar acum păreți mulțumiți. (Ind. pp)

At the beginning you had disliked the idea, but now you seem to be content.

  • The third pronominal forms (mi, ți, i, ne, v, le) are linked to Indicative compound past and Conditional.

Daniela mi-a telefonat acasă. (Ind. comp. past)

Daniela called me at home.

Ți-aș oferi o cafea dacă ai timp. (Cond. pres.)

I would offer you a coffee if you had the time.

  • The fourth pronominal forms (ni, vi, li) are linked to impersonal/generic verbs.

Ni s-a spus că, din cauza zăpezii, putem pleca acasă. (Ind. comp. past)

We were told that, due to the snow, we may go home.

All pronouns in the Accusative case follow the same pattern. However the feminine singular (o) appears before most verbs, but comes after compound indicative verbs and after conditional verbs.

  • O întâlnesc pe Mihaela în fiecare dimineață, la metrou. (Ind. pres.)
    I meet Michelle every morning at the subway (stop).
  • Am întâlnit-o pe Mihaela la stația de metrou. (Ind. comp. past)
    I met Michelle at the subway stop.
  • Când o întâlnisem în București, Anca era studentă. (Ind. pp.)
    When I had met Anca in Bucharest, she was a student.
  • Dacă aș vedea-o pe Anca, probabil că nu aș recunoaște-o. (Cond.)
    If i saw Anca, I would probably not recognize her.

Normally, in natural speech, many pronouns occur together depending on verb specifications.

Examples:

  • (Mie) îmi place foarte mult primăvara, nu mi-a plăcut niciodată vara.
    (As for myself) I like spring very much, I never liked summer.
  • Dacă ne aduceți câteva cărți, timpul ni se va părea mai scurt.
    If you bring us some books, the time will seem to us shorter/we will pass the time easier.
  • Acum mă cheamă Alexandra Voicu, în facultate m-a chemat Alexandra Matei.
    Now I am called Alexandra Voicu; at the university I was called Alexandra Matei.
  • Ar fi bine să ne telefonați sâmbătă.
    It would be good to call us on Saturday.
  • Ți-am spus să vii oricând îți convine.
    I tould you to come whenever it’s convenient to you.
  • V-am trimis o scrisoare săptămâna trecută și vă trimit încă una azi.
    I sent you a letter last week and I(‘ll) send you one more today.
  • Dacă așa vi s-a spus, probabil că e corect.
    If this is the way you were told, it is probably correct.
  • Lui Dan i-am cumpărat o cravată, Elenei îi cumpăr un fular.
    I bought a tie for Dan (and) I(‘ll) buy a scarf for Elena.
  • Anul trecut l-am invitat la Institut pe domnul Ambasador, anul acesta o invităm pe doamna Consul General.
    Last year we invited Mr. Ambassador to the Institute; this year we(‘ll) invite Mrs. Consul General.
  • Când îi vedeți pe Popești, transmiteți-le, vă rog, salutări de la noi.
    When you see the Popescus, please say hello from us.
  • Dacă le întâlniți pe surorile Orleanu, invitați-le la ziua Ruxandrei. Nu-l uitați nici pe fratele lor.
    If you meet the Orleanu sisters, invite them to Ruxandra’a birthday. And donțt forget their brother.
  • Prima dată i-am văzut pe fotbaliștii români la Madrid.
    The first time I saw Romanian soccer players was in Madrid.
  • Imediat ce îi contactați pe prietenii dumneavoastră, spuneți-le că se apropie o avalanșă.
    As soon as you contact your friends, tell them that an avalanche is coming.

Possessive Pronouns

The possessive pronouns/adjectives agree in gender and number with the ‘possessed object’ and in number with the ‘possessor’. Depending on the gender and number of the possessed object, four main forms (masc. and fem. sg. and pl.) are available for each of the three persons:

1st person
Masc. Sg. meu Fem. Sg. mea
Masc. Pl. mei Fem. Pl. mele
Examples:
câinele meu

câinii mei

pisica mea

pisicile mele

= my dog (masc. sg.)

= my dogs (masc. pl.)

= my cat (fem. sg.)

= my cats (fem. pl.)

2nd person
Masc. Sg. tău /

dumitale /

dumneavoastră

Fem. Sg. ta /

dumitale /

dumneavoastră

Masc. Pl. tăi /

dumitale /

dumneavoastră

Fem. Pl. tale /

dumitale /

dumneavoastră

While the second person possessives function very much like the first person pronouns, notice the three degrees of politeness.

3rd person
Masc. Sg. său /

(dumnea)lui

Fem. Sg. sa /

(dumnea)ei

Masc. Pl. săi /

(dumnea)lui

Fem. Pl. sale /

dumitale /

(dumnea)ei

The agreement in number with the ‘possessor’ works as in English:

  • câinele meu = my dog
  • câinele nostru = our dog
  • câinele lui = his dog
  • câinele ei = her dog

The possessive pronoun replaces a noun, indicating the idea of possession. The possessive markers are:

  • al (masc., sg.)
  • a (fem., sg.)
  • ai (masc., pl.)
  • ale (fem., pl.)
Examples: Mașina mea e Ford, ca și a dumeavoastră.

My car is a Ford, just like yours.

Numele meu este românesc, al lui e american.

My name is Romanian, his is American.

Copiii noștri sunt la școală, unde sunt ai dumneavoastră?

Our children are at school; where are yours?

Cărțile mele sunt în limba română, ale ei sunt în engleză.

My books are in Romanian; hers are in English.

As shown in the above examples, the possessive markers (al, a, ai, ale) change structures like ‘my + noun’ into ‘mine’, in which the possessive pronoun refers to a previously mentioned noun.

Relative Pronouns

In interrogative questions, the interrogative-relative pronoun replaces words that are expected as an answer to the question being asked. These pronouns are:

  • care = which, that
  • cine = who
  • ce = what
  • cât = how much / many

‘Care’, ‘cine’ and ‘cât’ follow the noun declension rules and, with the exception of ‘cine’, also have different forms for masculine and feminine:

care
Case Gender Number Pronoun Number Pronoun
Non.-Acc. M/F/N Sg. care Pl. care
Gen. M (al, a, ai, ale)

cărui(a)

(al, e, ai, ale)

căror(a)

F (al, a, ai, ale)

cărei(a)

(al, a, ai, ale)

căror(a)

Dat. M/N căruia cărora
F căruia cărora

Examples:

  • Care este mai completă, prima ediție sau a doua? (Nom.)

Which is more complete, the first edition or the second?

  • Profesoara care a luat cuvântul este de la Universitatea București. (Nom.)

The professor that took the floor is from University of Bucharest.

  • Colega al cărei soț este francez a plecat la Paris. (Gen.)

The colleague whose husband is French has left for Paris.

  • Au venit la petrecere toți prietenii cărora le-am trimis invitații. (Dat.)

All my friends to whom I sent invitation came to the party.

  • Nu mă pot hotărî pe care rochie să o cumpăr.

I can’t decide which dress I should buy.

cine
Case Pronoun
Nom.-Acc. cine
Gen. (al, a, ai, ale) cui
Dat. cui

Examples:

  • Pentru cine bat clopotele. (Acc.)

For whom the bells toll.

  • Nu sunt sigură cui să-i dau acest cadou: fetei sau băiatului? (Dat.)

I’m not sure whom should I give this present: to the girl or to the boy?

  • Am găsit un bilet pe birou, dar nu știu al cui este. (Gen.)
    I found a note on the desk, but I don’t know whose it is.

‘Ce’ has only one form and is usually translated as ‘what’.

Examples:

  • Ce crezi că are de gând Dana?
    What do you think Dana has in mind?
  • Nu știu ce să mai cred.
    I don’t know what to think any more.
  • Ce s-a-ntâmplat?
    What happened? / What’s going on? / What’s up?

Note: The clarification question ‘Ce?’ (What?) is perceived as being terribly impolite, and therefore should never be used as such. ‘Poftim?’ or ‘Poftiți?’ are the polite forms.

cât
Singular Plural
Case Gender Pronoun Gender Pronoun
N – Ac M/N cât M câți
F câtă F/N câte
G – D M/F/N câtor

Examples:

  • Nu sunt sigur cât trebuie să așteptăm.
    I’m not sure how much (time) we should wait.
  • Câte kilograme de mere?
    How many kilos of apples?
  • Câtă miere folosiți la prăjitura asta?
    How much honey do you use for this pastry?
  • Câtor studenți le-ați dat nota maximă?
    To how many students have you given the highest grade?

Aside from their regular use, relative pronouns appear in many high frequency idiomatic expressions such as:

în ceea ce mă privește

din câte am auzit

din câte știu

Să vedem care pe care!

Ce să fac?!

Cine știe?!

Ce s-a întâmplat?

as far as I’m concerned

from what I’ve heard

from what I know

Let’s see who wins! (i.e. the outcome of a debate, fight, etc.)

What can I do?

Who knows?

What’s up?, What happened?, What’s going on?

Demonstrative Pronouns

The demonstrative pronoun replaces a noun while indicating closeness or distance in space or time. When accompanying a noun, it functions as an adjective, and agreement between the noun and the adjective is required. In form, demonstrative adjectives appear to be indefinite, while demonstrative pronouns are definite.

Masc. Nom.-Acc. Sg. acest (this) Pl. acești (these)
Gen.-Dat. acestui acestor
Fem. Nom.-Acc. această * (this) aceste (these)
Gen.-Dat. acestei acestor
Masc. Nom.-Acc. acel (that) acei (those)
Gen.-Dat. acelui acelor
Fem. Nom.-Acc. acea ** (that) acele (those)
Gen.-Dat. acelei acelor

All thse forms become definite by adding an –a at the end.

Exceptions: * această aceasta
** acea aceea

As an adjective, the demonstrative could be places either before or after the noun, the first possibility being easir to use and more frequent. The English version of both variants is identical.

Demonstrative – Noun combinations:

Nom.-Acc.: indefinite demonstrative + indefinite noun

Gen.-Dat.: modified demonstrative + indefinite noun

Noun – Demonstrative combinations:

Nom.-Acc.: definite noun + definite demonstrative

Gen.-Dat.: modified noun + modified demonstrative

Examples:

Acest student este american. (Nom.) Studentul acesta este american.
This student is American.
Am discutat deja cu acest student. (Acc.) Am discutat deja cu studentul acesta.
I already talked to this student.
Cărțile acestui student sunt noi. (Gen.) Cărțile studentului acestuia sunt noi.
This student’s books are new.
I-am dat cărțile acestui student. (Dat.) I-am dat cărțile studentului acestuia.
I (We) gave the books to this student.

In the second category, for reasons easy to understand, speakers of Romanian tend to simplify the Gen.-Dat. demonstratives by eliminating the Gen.-Dat. inflection:

studentului acestuia studentului acesta

More pronouns

The English expressions ‘the same’ and ‘the same one(s)’ are rendered in Romanian by the definite demonstrative pronoun acela / aceea + și:

Case/Number Masc. Fem.
Nom.-Acc. Sg. același aceeași
Gen.-Dat. Sg. aceluiași aceleiași
Nom.-Acc. Pl. aceiași aceleași
Gen.-Dat. Pl. acelorași acelorași

Examples:

  • Avem aceleași intenții, dar nu același modus operandi.
    We have the same intentions, but not the same modus operandi.
  • Anul acesta oferim același curs de limbă ca și anul trecut.
    This year we offer the same language course as last year.
  • Vara aceasta nu s-au mai acordat burse acelorași studenți ca anul trecut.
    Scholarships were not granted to the same students this summer as last year.

As above, the pronoun always precedes the noun and agrees with it, as do demonstratives in similar posiitions. (see Demonstrative Pronouns)

Indefinite Pronouns replace a noun without providing any specific information about the replaces noun. The most-used indefinite pronouns are:

  • cineva (G-D cuiva) = someone
  • ceva = something
  • oricine (G-D oricui) = anyone
  • orice = anything
  • fiecare (G-D fiecărui) = each, every
  • alt, alta
    alți, alte = other

Negative Pronouns

  • nimeni (g-D nimănui) = nobody
  • nimic = nothing

Pronouns of Emphasis

  • însumi, însămi

înșiși, însele = myself, themselves


Learn and practice hundreds of Romanian pronouns in context with Clozemaster!


This article is Chapter 6: Pronouns of the Foreign Service Institute’s Romanian Reference Grammar, Copyright: Attribution Non-Commercial (BY-NC).

Hoffman CN. Romanian reference grammar. Foreign Service Institute, U.S. Department of State, 1989.

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