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A new type of verb!!

Look at us! We’re reflexive!! (Hien? Quoi?). One of the easiest ways to understand what a reflexive verb is, and why it
exists is to look at examples. Look at the difference between:

Je me lave le matin. I wash (myself) in the mornings.

Je lave la voiture. I wash the car.

They are reflexive because the action is ‘reflected’ back onto the subject or the person(s) doing the action. Nobody else
is involved. When say, Claudine and Georges get dressed (THEY), there is no random cat or book involved. It’s just them
doing the dressing, to themselves.

Many of these verbs aren’t reflexive in English. Whilst we wash ‘ourselves’, we don’t tend to ‘get ourselves up’, ‘wake
ourselves up’, ‘stop ourselves’, ‘rest ourselves’, or ‘marry ourselves’. In English we often express this sort of concept with
the over-used word “GET”: I get up, I get frightened, I get ready, I get married...

When looking up a verb in the dictionary, you can tell it is reflexive when it has a “se” or “s’” at the beginning.

Some examples of reflexive verbs are:

(look up their meanings in a dictionary. Add any more that you find.)

Se - ER Se - RE Se – IR*
se lever se détendre s’endormir

se réveiller se rendre se sentir

se brosser s'évanouir

se casser

se coiffer

se coucher

se dépêcher

se fâcher


se reposer

*Can’t think of many IR reflexives, and only one ‘regular’!

These verbs really aren’t difficult to deal with – we already know how to do most of it! Let’s have a look:

First, ignore the ‘se’ at the beginning. Do you notice that they are all –er, -re or –ir verbs? So, just treat them like you
would treat any other regular –er, -re or –ir verb! Most of the reflexives you will find are ER verbs.
Fill in the endings:

je -e
tu -es
il -
elle -
nous -ons
vous -issez

Ok, once you’ve done that part then you need to do something with the “se” part of the verb (otherwise it wouldn’t be
reflexive, it would be normal and this whole lesson would be a little pointless!)

This bit isn’t hard, you just need to remember! All you need to do is put these little pronouns* in front of the verb:

me te se nous vous se

me, te and se become m’ t’ and s’ before a vowel.

So, you will end up with something that looks like this:

-ER (se lever) -RE (se rendre) -IR (s’endormir*)

je je me lève je me rends je m’endors
tu tu te lèves tu te rends tu t’endors
il il se lève il se rend il s’endort
elle elle se lève elle se rend elle s’endort
nous nous nous levons nous nous rendons nous nous endormons
vous vous vous levez vous vous rendez vous vous endormez
ils ils se lèvent ils se rendent ils s’endorment
elles elles se lèvent elles se rendent elles s’endorment
*A pronoun is a word that replaces a noun, so instead of saying “I prepare Prof Mackay to leave on holidays” you say “I prepare myself to leave on
holidays”... less weird.

Try to fill in the following:

s’habiller se coucher se fâcher se laver

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Some reflexive verbs aren’t REALLY completely reflexive. There’s a type that is a “reciprocal” reflexive. This is only
because there is a reciprocal action involved... they’re actions we do ‘to each other’ rather than ‘to oneself’. We can’t
meet ourselves, greet ourselves, phone ourselves or leave ourselves/break up with ourselves. All this means is that you
can only have the nous, vous and ils/elles pronoun/verb combinations (vous, nous, se), not the je, tu etc.

Here are some reciprocal “reflexive” verbs:

s’adorer to adore (one another)

s’aimer to love (one another)

se comprendre to understand (one another)

se connaître to know (one another)

se détester to hate (one another)

se disputer to argue

s’embrasser to kiss

se quitter to leave

se rencontrer to meet

se voir to see

Some verbs change meaning when they become reflexive… here are a few:

aller to go s’en aller to go away

amuser to amuse s’amuser to have a good time/enjoy oneself

appeler to call s’appeler to be named

attendre to wait for s’attendre (à) to expect

demander to ask se demander to wonder

ennuyer to bother s’ennuyer to be bored

entendre to hear s’entendre to get along

perdre to lose se perdre to get lost

rendre to return se render à to go to

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