Reflexive Verbs

Verbi riflessivi
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Verbi riflessivi

For reflexive verbs, the reflexive pronoun indicates that the subject of the verb is performing the action on him/her/itself, rather than on someone or something else. The majority of reflexive verbs have to do with one’s body, clothing, relationships, or state of mind.

Per esempio…

Si guarda allo specchio.   She’s looking at herself in the mirror.
Mi alzo alle sette.   I get up at 7am.
Ti vesti troppo lentamente.   You’re dressing too slowly.

Most common Italian reflexive verbs

accomodarsi to sit down
addormentarsi to fall asleep
alzarsi to get up
annoiarsi to get bored
arrabbiarsi to get angry
chiamarsi to be called
chiedersi to wonder
divertirsi to have fun
fermarsi to stop
innamorarsi to fall in love
lavarsi (le mani), la faccia) to wash (one’s hands, face)
perdersi to get lost
pettinarsi to comb one’s hair
preoccuparsi to worry
prepararsi to get ready
radersi to shave (oneself)
ricordarsi to remember
rompersi (la gamba, il braccio)  to break (one’s leg, arm)
sbrigarsi to hurry
sedersi to sit down
sentirsi to feel
spogliarsi to get undressed
sposarsi to get married
svegliarsi to wake up
vestirsi to get dressed

All of the above verbs require a reflexive pronoun when they indicate that the subject is doing something to itself. But they can also be used non-reflexively, indicating that the action of the verb is directed at someone or something else.

 In confronto…

Mi sveglio alle sette. vs La sveglio alle sette.
I wake up at 7am.
  I wake her up at 7am.
Si rasa il mento. vs Rasa il mento di suo figlio.
He’s shaving his (own) chin.   He’s shaving his son’s chin.

 When talking about parts of the body, the reflexive pronoun and a definite article indicate the owner of that part of the body, rather than the possessive adjective that is used in English.

Per esempio…

Mi lavo la faccia.   Lavo la mia faccia.
I’m washing my face.
Si pettina i capelli.   Pettina i suoi capelli.
He’s combing his hair.    

 Related lessons

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Italian reflexive verbs