Reflexive Verbs

Verbi riflessivi
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Verbi riflessivi

Reflexive verbs are the most common type of pronominal verb. Here, 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

 Note that many of these verbs can also be reciprocal.

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.    

 Reflexive verbs are just one type of pronominal verb – more details coming soon.

 Related lessons

Learn Spanish En español

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Italian reflexive verbs

Virtual Italian Teacher at Lawless Languages | Website | + posts

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