French Reflexive Verbs [With Conjugations, Vocab Lists, & Audio]



Consider French reflexive verbs as they’re associated to the phrase “mirror.” They describe actions that you do to your self (in technical phrases, that mirror again on the topic). These are issues like getting dressed, brushing your hair, or introducing your self.

For instance, je me brosse les cheveux means “I brush my hair.” The reflexive verb right here is se brosser, conjugated for je. If I say je brosse les cheveux, it means “I brush the hair” — not my very own hair. So this phrase doesn’t sound fairly proper.

Not all French verbs are reflexive verbs, however a handful of them are.

Each novices and superior learners must be acquainted as they usually come up in on a regular basis speech and writing. Think about — even saying your identify in French is with a reflexive verb. Je m’appelle Yaren is how I’d say “my identify is Yaren” however its literal translation is “I name myself Yaren!”

French Reflexive Verbs: Vocabulary Checklist

Let’s begin with a vocabulary checklist, masking the most typical French reflexive verbs that may come up later within the article:

English French Audio
“to stand up” se lever
“to brush” se brosser
“to dress” s’habiller
“to clean up” se laver
“to take a bathe” se doucher
“to get up” se réveiller
“to placed on make-up” se maquiller
“to go to mattress” se coucher
“to shave” se raser
“to get ready” se préparer
“to calm down” se détendre
“to rush” se dépêcher

What are Reflexive Verbs and How Do You Use Them?

Reflexive verbs are the verbs that mirror the motion again on the topic, with the assistance of reflexive pronouns.

For instance, lever means “to raise.” With a reflexive pronoun, se lever can have a special which means, “to stand up.” Equally, laver means “to clean one thing.” Se laver is “to clean oneself.”

The reflexive verbs have two components: the verb itself and a reflexive pronoun, one of many forms of French pronouns. To resolve which reflexive pronoun to make use of, we must always have a look at the topic who’s performing the motion. For instance, if I’m the one who’s getting up, I’d say je me lève. If I’m speaking about somebody who’s getting up, I’d say il se lève or elle se lève.

The infinitive type of the verb to stand up is “se lever.” To conjugate, we have to select the best pronoun for every topic. Listed below are the reflexive pronouns in French:

  • me/m’ (“me, myself”)
  • te/t’ (“you, your self,” singular casual)
  • se/s’ (“he, himself; her, herself; it, itself; one, oneself; us, ourselves” – when used with on as an alternative of nous)
  • nous (“us, ourselves”)
  • vous (“you, your self,” plural/singular formal)
  • se/s’ (“them, themselves”)

When adopted by a vowel, me, te, and se change into m’ t’ and s’. Consider je m’appelle, tu t’appelles, or elle s’appelle. Whereas numerous phrases have a reflexive and non-reflexive kind, similar to lever (“to raise”) and se lever (“to stand up”), some verbs are solely used of their reflexive kinds. For instance, se moquer means “to make enjoyable of somebody.” It’s probably not frequent to say moquer. We’ll get to this later!

Instance Sentences with On a regular basis Reflexive Verbs

We’ve already coated se lever (“to stand up”), s’appeler (“to be known as”), and se laver (“to clean”), all a part of each day French vocabulary. Listed below are some instance sentences with frequent reflexive verbs:

Verb English Sentence French Sentence Audio
Se lever (“to stand up”) “I get up early to go to work.” Je me lève tôt pour aller au travail.
Se brosser les dents (“to brush your enamel”) “He brushes his enamel twice a day.” Il se brosse les dents deux fois par jour.
S’habiller (“to dress”) “You at all times gown properly.” Tu t’habilles toujours bien.
Se laver les mains (“to clean one’s palms”) “I wash my palms earlier than consuming.” Je me lave les mains avant de manger.
Se coucher (“to go to mattress”) “We often go to mattress round 10 pm.” (In French, nous and on each imply “we.” On is extra frequent in each day life. Nous nous couchons généralement vers 22 heures / On se couche généralement vers 22 heures.
Se réveiller (“to get up”) “She usually wakes up in the course of the evening.” Elle se réveille souvent pendant la nuit.
Se maquiller (“to placed on make-up”) “They at all times placed on make-up earlier than going out.” Elles se maquillent toujours avant de sortir.
Se doucher (“to take a bathe”) “You’re taking a bathe after the fitness center.” Tu te douches après la fitness center.
Se préparer (“to get ready”) “They prepare an hour upfront.” Ils se préparent une heure à l’avance.
Se détendre (“to calm down”) “I calm down by studying a great e book.” Je me détends en lisant un bon livre.
Se dépêcher (“to rush”) “Are you able to hurry, please?” Tu te dépêches, s’il te plaît?

These are only a few examples of the various reflexive verbs utilized in on a regular basis French. As you possibly can see, they cowl a variety of frequent actions, from hygiene to each day routines, and from habits to private preferences.

Reflexive Verbs in Completely different Tenses

Mastering French phrase order can take some time. And with reflexive verbs, you also needs to take into account the place the pronoun goes within the sentence. Let’s check out how reflexive verbs are conjugated in varied tenses. In the event you haven’t coated the opposite tenses but, be at liberty to simply observe the current tense and are available again to this text while you’re prepared!

Current Tense: Select the best reflexive pronoun and conjugate the verb as it might usually be conjugated.

  • Tu te lèves. “You stand up.”
  • Il se brosse les dents. “He brushes his enamel.”

Previous Tense – Passé Composé: With reflexive verbs, we must always at all times use être in passé composé, irrespective of if the non-reflexive model of the verb makes use of avoir. The conjugated model of être comes between the pronoun and the verb, which have to be prior to now participle of the verb.

  • Je me suis levé tôt. “I obtained up early.”
  • On s’est habillés rapidement. “We obtained dressed rapidly.”
  • Vous vous êtes maquillées pour la soirée. “You placed on make-up for the night.”

Imperfect Tense: We conjugate the verb within the imperfect tense, imparfait. The pronoun stays as it’s.

  • Tu te couchais tard. “You used to go to mattress late.”
  • Ils s’habillaient bien. “They used to decorate properly.”

Future Tense: We conjugate the verb sooner or later tense, le futur easy. The pronoun stays as it’s.

  • Je me réveillerai à 7 heures demain. “I’ll get up at 7 o’clock tomorrow.”
  • Elle se maquillera avant la cérémonie. “She is going to placed on make-up earlier than the ceremony.”

Conditional Tense: We conjugate the verb sooner or later tense, le futur easy. The pronoun stays as it’s.

  • Je me lèverais plus tôt si j’avais des cours. “I might stand up earlier if I had classes.”
  • Je m’habillerais différemment si je savais qu’on allait au sport. “I might gown otherwise if I knew we had been going to do sports activities.”

Helpful Expressions with Reflexive Verbs

French just isn’t wanting expressions and idioms — and typically, they embrace reflexive verbs. Let’s check out some frequent expressions with reflexive verbs. In addition to the traditional je me lève and je m’habille, these expressions will make your French vocabulary extra elaborate.

French Verb Instance Sentence (English) Instance Sentence (French) Audio
Se moquer de (to make enjoyable of) “They make enjoyable of me as a result of I am quick.” Ils se moquent de moi parce que je suis petit.
S’en aller (to depart, to go away) “I’m leaving, I’ve an appointment.” Je m’en vais, j’ai un rendez-vous.
Se taire (to be quiet) “I’ll be quiet, we’re within the library.” Je vais me taire, on est dans la bibliothèque.
Se rendre compte que (to comprehend) “She realized that she forgot her keys.” Elle s’est rendue compte qu’elle avait oublié ses clés.
Se memento de (to recollect) “We keep in mind our first journey to Paris.” On se souvient de notre premier voyage à Paris.
Se passer de (to do with out, to handle with out) “I can do with out dessert tonight.” Je peux me passer de dessert ce soir.
S’y connaître (to be educated about, to be an skilled in) “You realize about French wine.” Vous vous y connaissez en vins français.
Se tromper (to make a mistake) “Sorry, I made a mistake.” Désolé je me suis trompé.
S’occuper de (to deal with) “I deal with my mom.” Je m’occupe de ma mère.
S’habituer à (to get used to) “She obtained used to her new life.” Elle s’est habituée à sa nouvelle vie.

Destructive Reflexive Verbs

Fast recap: to make a sentence detrimental in French, we’d like the phrases ne and pas. Instance: je ne marche pas, “I don’t stroll.” With reflexive verbs, French negation follows an analogous construction: ne + reflexive pronoun + verb + pas.

Listed below are some examples:

  • Je ne me souviens pas de notre voyage à Paris. “I don’t keep in mind our Paris journey.”
  • Il ne se lève pas tôt. “He doesn’t get up early.”

With passé composé, it’s barely completely different. The construction is: ne + reflexive pronoun + être + pas + previous participle. It might sound a bit sophisticated, however consider it as “there can solely be one verb between ne and pas.” Listed below are some examples that may make it clearer:

  • Je ne me suis pas réveillé tard. “I didn’t get up late.”
  • Tu ne t’es pas rasé ce matin. “You didn’t shave this morning.”

With Some Follow, You’ll Quickly Grasp Reflexive Verbs

When learning reflexive verbs, search for frequent patterns. Many verbs comply with comparable patterns with the common verbs — se laver is conjugated the identical method as laver, a first-group common verb, for instance.

The extra you watch French filmshearken to French songs, and immerse your self within the language, the better will probably be to know when to make use of reflexive verbs and tips on how to conjugate them. Follow makes good could also be cliché recommendation, however on this context, it’s true!

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Yaren Fadiloglulari

Freelance Content material Author & Journalist

Initially from Cyprus, Yaren is a freelance author for a lot of digital publications, journey and training manufacturers, and start-ups.

Speaks: English, Turkish, French, and Spanish

View all posts by Yaren Fadiloglulari

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