Reflexive verbs

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Reflexive verbs (it. verbi riflessivi) are composed of a reflexive pronoun and a verb, like mi lavo I wash myself. Let’s learn the reflexive verbs in Italian!

Reflexive verbs in Italian

Reflexive verbs express an action that refers to the subject, such as: mi lavo I wash myself. They consist of a verb and a pronoun, namely a reflexive pronoun. In the infinitive, the reflexive pronoun si is placed at the end of the verb, which loses the -e of the infinitive:

AREEREIRE
lavarsi
to wash yourself
sedersi
to sit down
divertirsi
to have fun

The structure of Italian reflexive verbs

Reflexive verbs behave like non-reflexive verbs. You only have to conjugate the verb as usual and put the reflexive pronoun before the verb: mi lavo. The negative non is placed before the reflexive pronoun: non mi lavo. Note that many reflexive verbs in Italian are not reflexive in English, like vestirsi to get dressed.

REFLEXIVE PRONOUN + VERB

LAVARSI
iomi lavo
tuti lavi
lui, leisi lava
noici laviamo
voivi lavate
lorosi lavano

Common reflexive verbs

Svegliarsi e alzarsi

Svegliarsi to wake up and alzarsi to stand up are useful verbs to describe your daily routine. A trick to not mix them up? You should know that la sveglia is the alarm. So you’ll ti svegli when la sveglia rings!

SVEGLIARSIALZARSI
iomi svegliomi alzo
tuti svegliti alzi
lui, leisi svegliasi alza
noici svegliamoci alziamo
voivi svegliatevi alzate
lorosi sveglianosi alzano

Prepararsi, lavarsi, vestirsi e rilassarsi

Prepararsi to get ready, lavarsi to wash yourself, vestirsi to get dressed and rilassarsi to relax are also four common verbs you’ll need to describe your daily routine.

PREPARARSILAVARSI
iomi preparomi lavo
tuti prepariti lavi
lui, leisi preparasi lava
noici prepariamoci laviamo
voivi preparatevi lavate
lorosi preparanosi lavano
VESTIRSIRILASSARSI
iomi vestomi rilasso
tuti vestiti rilassi
lui, leisi vestesi rilassa
noici vestiamoci rilassiamo
voivi vestitevi rilassate
lorosi vestonosi rilassano

Incontrarsi, divertirsi, addormentarsi e chiamarsi

Four other important reflexive verbs are incontrarsi (con) to meet up (with), divertirsi to have fun, addormentarsi to fall asleep and chiamarsi to be called (my name is…).

INCONTRARSIDIVERTIRSI
iomi incontromi diverto
tuti incontriti diverti
lui, leisi incontrasi diverte
noici incontriamoci divertiamo
voivi incontratevi divertite
lorosi incontranosi divertono
ADDORMENTARSICHIAMARSI
iomi addormentomi chiamo
tuti addormentiti chiami
lui, leisi addormentasi chiama
noici addormentiamoci chiamiamo
voivi addormentatevi chiamate
lorosi addormentanosi chiamano

What are actually reflexive verbs?

Reflexive verbs express an action that refers to the subject. The reflexive pronoun represents either the direct object (chi? who?) or the indirect object (a chi? to whom?) of the sentence. The subject and the object are the same person.

Mi lavo.I wash myself.Who do I wash? Myself.
Mi lavo le mani.I wash my hands.To whom do I wash the hands? To myself.

They can also have mutual value:

Ci vediamo domani.We see us tomorrow.I see you and you see me.

In some of these verbs, like addormentarsi to fall asleep, the pronoun represents neither the direct nor the indirect object (I fall myself asleep?!). In fact, these are not reflexive verbs, but are called pronominal verbs. But since pronominal verbs behave exactly like reflexive verbs, they are simply learned together.

Mi mangio un panino

In the spoken language it often happens that Italians transform verbs like mangiare or guardare, which are not reflexive, into reflexive verbs. The use of the reflexive pronoun makes the sentence more personal and colloquial.

Mi mangio un panino.I eat a sandwich.
Mi guardo un film.I watch a movie.
Reflexive verbs in Italian

ESERCIZI

1. Pronomi riflessivi

2. Inserisci i verbi

Impara di più!

Vocabulary: List of 30 useful reflexive verbs here
Grammar: The articulated prepositions here
Reading: Read a story in Italian here

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