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Reflexive Verbs

Reflexive verbs are called reflexive because the action goes back

to the subject.  Many transitive verbs can become reflexive if the

action is done by the subject, for the subject, eg: ‘Io lavo la 

macchina,’ (I wash the car) is a regular transitive verb, but if I

want to say 'I wash myself', I have to use the reflexive verb

lavarsi: Io mi lavo.’ 


The good news is that reflexive verbs follow exactly the 

conjugations of transitive verbs you have studied until now, 

but they HAVE to be used with reflexive pronouns which will 

change according to the subject of the sentence.

 

The infinitive of a reflexive verb is different:

Verbs that follow the conjugation of the first group (-are) have 

their infinitive ending in –arsi.

Verbs that follow the conjugation of the second group (-ere) have 

their infinitive ending in  –ersi.

Verbs that follow the conjugation of the third group (-ire), have 

their infinitive ending in –irsi.

 

Reflexive pronouns:  As you will notice, most reflexive pronouns 

are exactly the same as direct and indirect pronouns, with the 

exceptions of the third person singular and plural:

Mi        (myself)

Ti         (yourself)

Si         (himself/herself)

Ci         (ourselves)

Vi         (yourselves)

Si         (themselves – all males/all females/mixed)

 

 

Placement:

Reflexive pronouns are placed before the conjugated verb, or are 

attached to the infinitive, which drops the final –e.    

 

Note: Compound tenses (such as passato prossimo) of reflexive 

verbs are always made with the auxiliary essere.

 

Keep in mind that Italian uses reflexive verbs more than English, 

and some verbs which are reflexive in Italian do not make sense in 

English as reflexive. 


English expressions with to get and to become are often rendered 

in Italian with a reflexive verb.

 

 

List of the most common reflexive verbs:

Addormentarsi

To fall asleep

Accorgersi (di)

To realize

Alzarsi

To get up

Annoiarsi

To get bored

Arrabbiarsi

To get angry

Divertirsi

To have fun

Farsi la barba

To shave (beard)

Guardarsi

To look at oneself

Innamorarsi (di)

To fall in love with

Lamentarsi

To complain

Laurearsi

To graduate (university only)

Lavarsi

To wash oneself

Mettersi

To put on (clothing)

Pettinarsi

To comb one’s hair

Riposarsi

To rest

Spogliarsi

To get undressed

Stancarsi

To get tired

Svegliarsi

To wake up

Togliersi

To take off (clothing)

Truccarsi

To put on/wear make up

Vergognarsi

To be embarrassed/ashamed

Vestirsi

To get dressed

Fidanzarsi

To get engaged

Bagnarsi

To get wet

Asciugarsi

To dry off oneself

Sentirsi

To feel oneself

 

Examples:


Mi sveglio tutte le mattine alle 7:00. 

Laura si trucca troppo.    (Laura wears too much make up)

Franca e Mario si sposano il mese prossimo.  (Franca and Mario are 

getting married next month.)

Ci siamo divertiti molto alla festa di Marina.  (We had a lot of fun 

at Marina’s party.)

Quando vi laureate?  (When are you guys graduating from 

university?)

 

 

 

Reciprocal verbs:


The reflexive construction with the three plural reflexive 

pronouns ci, vi, si, is also used to express reciprocity.

 

List of the most common reciprocal verbs:

Aiutarsi

to help each other

Amarsi

To love each other

Baciarsi

To kiss each other

Conoscersi

To get to know each other

Darsi un appuntamento

To make an appointment

Guardarsi

To look at each other

Incontrarsi

To meet each other

Lasciarsi

To leave each other

Odiarsi

To hate each other

Salutarsi

To greet each other

Scriversi

To write to each other

Telefonarsi

To call each other

 

Examples:


Marco e Paolo si conoscono da molti anni.   (Marco and Paolo have 

known each other for many years.)

Marina e la sua amica Chiara si telefonano quasi tutte le sere.  

(Marina and her friend Chiara call each other almost every evening.)

Quando vi siete incontrati?   (When did you guys meet each other?)

Luca e Mirella si sono lasciati una settimana fa.   (Luca and Mirella 

left each other one week ago.)