Albanian Pronouns Made Simple
Now we come to the interesting part – the Albanian pronouns. Pronouns are a crucial part of any language, as they allow us to refer to people (including ourselves) or things, and be specific about them, often times without having to use their actual names.
There are several different types of pronouns (over 100 in fact, though we’ll only focus on the personal type in this article), each with their own specific function and usage, and each as important as the next.
That’s why it’s imperative that you learn all about them early on in your Albanian journey, as not doing so can lead to some serious confusion down the line.
The changing nature of Albanian pronouns
Depending on how long you’ve been studying Albanian, if at all, you may have noticed that the Albanian language has a lot more variation in its pronouns, compared to English. This is one of the things that makes it complex.
Albanian pronouns change depending on the type of case (the role the noun takes in a sentence) they’re in, the gender of the person or thing that’s being referenced, and its quantity. In English, only case affects how pronouns change, and even that isn’t too extreme, seeing as English only has three identifiable cases.
Albanian, on the other hand, has six!
To understand how Albanian pronouns work, you’ll have to understand how Albanian cases work, too. They go hand in hand.
What are the 6 Albanian cases?
Albanian’s six cases are: nominative, accusative, dative, genitive, ablative, and vocative. We’ll only be dealing with 4 of them, as the vocative case is so rarely used, and the genitive case is formed by placing a particle (i/e/të/së) in front of the noun in its dative case.
All right, we think we’ve confused you enough! Let’s get down to the nitty gritty so you can see how it all works.
Personal (subject) pronouns in Albanian – nominative case
Personal pronouns are exactly what they sound like – they refer to people or things. In the nominative case, they are used for the subject of a verb.
In Albanian, there are 8 distinct personal pronouns; English has 7 (I, you, we, he, she, it, they). It should be noted that Albanian doesn’t have a specific word for “it”, because its nouns are gendered. So, “it” would either be translated as “ai” (he) or “ajo” (she).
|You (singular)||Ti (informal); Ju (formal)|
|She / It||Ajo|
|He / It||Ai|
Object pronouns in Albanian – accusative case
Object pronouns in the accusative case are used when the pronoun is the direct object of a verb – that is, what or who receives the action of the verb. In English, these would be: me, you, us, him, her, it, them.
|you (singular)||ty (të)|
|them (feminine)||ato (i)|
|them (masculine)||ata (i)|
Object pronouns – dative case
Okay, this is where English’s simplistic grammar really starts to show its cracks. While in Albanian there are distinct dative pronouns, English makes no distinction between the accusative case and the dative. We would instead use prepostions (to, by, with etc.) to denote what case we’re in.
Example: this book was written by me.
|you (singular)||ty (të)|
|you (plural)||juve (ju)|
|them (feminine)||atyre (u)|
|them (masculine)||atyre (u)|
A note about clitic forms in the accusative and dative cases
You may have noticed the short words in brackets beside many of the pronouns. These are called “clitics”, which are basically just shortened or contracted forms of words. They’re very common in Albanian, and you’ll need to be able to recognise them to understand what you read and hear.
For an example of a clitic in American English, think of the word “y’all”, where the “y” is the clitic – the “weak” form of “you” that can’t exist independently from the main word.
(Learn more about clitics here.)
Object pronouns – ablative case
The ablative pronouns are used when something is moving away from something else. Though there is no ablative case in English, we would use prepositions such as “from” to denote it.
Well, Albanian does the same – it uses the preposition “prej” before the noun to denote the ablative case. Where it differs from English, however, is that the noun also changes form, as you’ll see below.
|from me||(prej) meje|
|from us||(prej) nesh|
|from you (singular)||(prej) teje|
|from you (plural)||(prej) jush|
|from her||(prej) asaj|
|from him||(prej) atij|
|from them (feminine)||(prej) atyre|
|from them (masculine)||(prej) atyre|
Reflexive pronouns in Albanian
Reflexive pronouns are used when the subject and object of a verb are the same. In other words, “I do something to myself“, “you thought of it yourself“, etc.
You’ll be pleased to know that in Albanian, expressing the reflexive pronoun requires just one word, which represents every person. This word is “vete”. So that’s one less thing you need to worry about (a small mercy, but one all the same).
Possessive (genitive) pronouns in Albanian
Possessive pronouns are used when a pronoun describes something that is owned by someone or something. In English, these are: mine, yours, ours, his/hers/its, and theirs.
These are used in place of the noun to which they refer, and are generally considered a form of the noun + possessive adjective pairing. For example: my car.
The genitive pronoun can only be employed when it’s obvious what is being spoken about. Take a look at this example sentence:
Speaker one: “Our car is blue.”
Speaker two: “Theirs is red.” Here, there can be no mistake that the car is being referenced.
|mine||i imi (masculine) / e imja (feminine)|
|ours||i yni (masculine) / e jona (feminine)|
|yours (singular)||i yti (masculine) / e jotja (feminine)|
|yours (plural)||e juaja|
Possessive adjectives/determiners in Albanian (masculine)
Although not exactly pronouns, they tend to fall under the same category, which is why we’ve included them here. They’re also extremely important to know, as you’ll be using them a lot.
Possessive adjectives are adjectives that modify a noun in terms of possession. So, “my car”, “your house”, “their computer” etc.
We’ve broken this section into masculine and feminine adjectives as they’re different in Albanian (surprise, surprise), requiring slightly different forms. Also, words on the right-hand side of the forward slash are plural forms.
|my||im / e mi||tim / e mi||tim / të mi|
|our||ynë / tanë||tonë / tanë||tonë / tanë|
|your (singular)||yt / e tu||tënd / e tu||tënd / të tu|
|your (plural)||juaj / tuaj||tuaj||tuaj|
|her||i saj / e saj||e saj||të saj|
|his||i tij / e tij||e tij||të tij|
|their||i tyre / e tyre||e tyre||të tyre|
Possessive adjectives/determiners (feminine)
The Albanian possessive adjectives that modify feminine gendered nouns are similar to the masculine ones, but with a few notable differences.
|my||ime / e mia||time / e mia||time / të mia|
|our||jonë / tona||tonë / tona||tonë / tona|
|your (singular)||jote / e tua||tënde / e tua||tënde / të tua|
|your (plural)||juaj / tuaja||tuaj / tuaja||tuaj / tuaja|
|her||e saj||e saj||së saj / të saj|
|his||e tij||e tij||së tij / të tij|
|their||e tyre||e tyre||së tyre / të tyre|
Yeah, we totally get it, Albanian grammar is the worst! Confusing, inconsistent, and with lots of rules to remember. But if you want to truly master the language at a native level, this is what you need to know.
It isn’t actually as bad as it looks, once you get used to it. Just take it one step at a time, try to learn them in context (through reading, listening, watching etc.), using this guide to check your understanding along the way. And before you know it, Albanian pronouns will be second nature to you.
If you’re ready to add some more words to your Albanian vocabulary, check out our posts Greetings and Salutations in Albanian and Numbers and Counting in Albanian.