Reflexive Verbs in German

reflexive-ideaHello everyone,

and welcome to a new episode of the Epic YDG Grammar course.
And today, we’ll talk a bit about one of the lesser evils of German, namely

German Reflexive Verbs

Most German learning text books have chapters on reflexive verbs, courses spend time talking about them, there are plenty of Youtube videos, I’m sure there’s also a bunch of TikToks about German reflexive verbs and there might even be some “adult” content about them. I didn’t check… but… you never know.

Anyway, so there is a lot of material about the topic, but I feel like there’s also quite a bit of confusion about what actually IS a reflexive verb and what isn’t.

And that is no wonder because reflexive verbs work a little differently in every language.
Just to give you two examples – in Romance languages (like Italian for instance) reflexive verbs have a special way to build the past tense. And in Russian you add something at the end of the verb.
So I think it’s actually worth spending a bit of time on trying to understand what actually makes a verb a reflexive verb.
So we will start with a look at how it works in English, and then delve into German.
Sounds good?
Then let’s jump right in.

First,we need to get some clarity about what reflexive actually means. And instead of a boring explanation, I’ll just give you the slogan that my marketing team came up with:

 Reflexive® –  pissing against the wind since 1902.

They made one for women, too:

Reflexive®   –    peeing above a metro air vent since 1902.

Great stuff. Absolutely worth the 23 zoom meetings and multiple thousands of dollars in sallary.
Seriously though… that is what most people understand as reflexive. You do something and you’re also the one it is done to. And now let’s look at English…

Reflexive verbs in English – or why there aren’t many

What is a reflexive verb in English. A common definition is  that it is an activity for which the agent and the patient are the same. Yeah… whatever. You pee. Wind blows. Pee on pants. End of story. This is what the definition means.
Here are some examples…

  • I see myself in the mirror.
  • The car drives itself.
  • You trust yourself.

There is actually a broader definition that call all verbs reflexive for which  which the subject is also some kind of object… be it direct, indirect or after a preposition.

  • I love myself.
  • I give myself a kiss.
  • I dream of myself, too.
  • I will marry myself some day.

So, if we go by these definitions,  to see, to drive, to trust, to give are all reflexive verbs, right? Hmmm… I don’t know.  Somewhere online I read that the reflexive pronouns, so myself, yourself and the like, are used with reflexive verbs… WHAT??? So to see is a reflexive verb and that’s why I can use myself with it? That doesn’t make sense. Doesn’t that mean that like 90% of all verbs are reflexive because I can use them that way? Or wait… maybe they are just reflexive verbs when they are used with a reflexive pronoun. So the reflexive pronoun makes them reflexive. But does that mean we have a verb to see and a verb to see oneself? Do they both have entries in the dictionary?  All that is really confusing and doesn’t make much sense to me.
I would suggest to call verbs that can be used in a reflexive way without changing their meaning… verbs. And save the name reflexive verb for those verbs that are special in a way. That solves all those problems. To see and to drive are just verbs, normal, everyday, labor union, 401k having verbs. They can be used in many ways, context and sometimes meanings and one of the contexts is reflexive. But they always mean the same. Why should we call them reflexive verbs then. It is the same verb. I mean, we don’t call to go a past-verb just because we use it in past.

Now, can all verbs be used in a reflexive context? No. For some it doesn’t work…

  • I go myself.

That doesn’t make sense… or wait..it does…

  • “Should I go?”
    “No, I go myself.”

But this myself is NOT a reflexive pronoun (it is called intensifying pronoun here) and the situation is not reflexive. So, just because you see a some-self somewhere doesn’t mean that it is reflexive. You really have to think of the underlying idea… you know… bladder emergency, wind,stain.
Anyway… so there are some English verbs that can’t be used in a reflexive manner…
And then there are some … very very some…. that can ONLY be used in a reflexive way. And those are the ones I would call reflexive verbs. Because they are special. One example is to comport oneselfYou can’t say

  • I comport someone or something.

And you also can’t say

  • I comport.

You MUST say

  • I comport myself.

Not because it would add any information. If you can only ever comport yourself, then the word is empty. It is just there because grammar wants it so.
Other examples are to pride oneself or to content oneself and maybe 4 or 5 more but that’s it.

So… the way I see it, is that English can use most of its verbs in a reflexive context. And it has a few real reflexive verbs, that is, verbs that ONLY work reflexively.
Official definitions are different. But who cares. I, Iself do not.
Let’s look at German, because in Complicated it is more Germ… wait… I mixed something up… anyway

Reflexive verbs in German

When we look at the whole reflexive thing in German we come across 3 different cases… no not THOSE cases :). We could say there are 3 groups of verbs.


The first group are the ones that work like most English verbs… so.. 
normal verbs that can be used reflexively without changing their meaning.

  • Ich sehe mich.
  • Du siehst mich.
  • Ich wasche mich und mein Auto.
  • I wash myself and my car.

In German grammar books, those are often called unechte reflexive Verben… like… phony or false reflexive verbs. This is a weird name because there is nothing phony or false about them. When used in a reflexive way,they totally express the idea of reflexive. I think they should just be called… verbs. Verbs that can be used in a reflexive context. But I’ve already ranted enough about that :).
Now… what’s interesting about this group is that German uses those verbs much more often with a reflexive than English uses its counterparts. And actually most languages do… Spanish, French, Russian… but English is just like:

“I am shaving myself… ugh… too long… hey, hey context could you come over… have a job for you”
“Uhg… AGAIN???… hey English you know what…  if you hadn’t rationalized so much you wouldn’t be so dependent on oth…”
“Ooooh whatever…  I am dominating! I have outperformed them all and I have the most costumers worldwide.  So, you’re helping or what?”
“Ugh fine… what is it?”
“So… I’ll just say ‘I’m shaving’ and you’ll do all the implications?”
“Like what… like … only for men and their beards? Or also for women and their legs?”
“All of it. You can do it, buddy.”

This is not how it works in German. You have to spell things out. Let’s take the word to change. In English you can change something or you can just change. In German , you always ändern something. That something can be your shirt, or it can be yourself. But you cannot just ändern.

  • Tomorrow, I will change.
  • Morgen ändere ich…. WRONG

That doesn’t sound complete and every German will be like “What? What do you change?.”

  • Morgen ändere ich mich.

Examples like this are numerous.

  • Thomas and Maria kissed.
  • Thomas und Maria küssen…. what? What do they kiss???
  • Thomas und Maria küssen sich. .. ohhhh okay... each other, I see. (don’t worry, we’ll get to the pronouns later)

and even numerouser….

  • Ich drehe das Lenkrad.
  • I turn the stirring wheel.
  • Die Erde dreht sich.
  • The world turns.

I am being repetitive but I’ll repeat anyway… you drehen something. That can be yourself. But you cannot just drehen.
So…  German uses its normal verbs in a reflexive way so much often because grammar wants it. And it is similar for other languages like Spanish or Russian. English is incredibly liberal with that kind of stuff.
Anyway…are all those reflexive verbs? In my eyes, no. They are just verbs that can be used in a reflexive context…. and that was group 1.

Now we get to the second group, which is probably the most interesting one. Those are the verbs that change their meaning when they are used reflexively. This change can be just a nuance or it can be complete… like a TOTAL change. Or it is somewhere in between and it is up to your mind yoga skills whether you find it the meanings different or not.
Let’s do some examples. A very close pair in my eyes is entscheiden and sich entscheiden. Entscheiden means to decide and sich entscheiden means… to decide. The difference is subtle. Sich entscheiden always has a personal component. Suppose someone comes up to you and asks you to make a decision about something you are not personally involved in… like … “Should I use Flamingos or Gibbons as a background for my phone?”… then you would just entscheiden. If you can’t decide whether you want beer or wine, then you need to sich entscheiden. The sich makes it more personal. Managers entscheiden a lot. Women on a shopping spree  entscheiden sich a lot…. or… .. they don’t. Either way… the two words are so close that we could actually put them in group 1.

Let’s look at one with a bigger difference.  Aufhalten. Among other things, it means to stop… because a language can never have enough words for to stop ;) … but it can also mean  to hold up ;)…
Sich aufhalten can mean to hold up oneself. That would be the group 1 thing… you just use the verb in a reflexive context. But sich aufhalten also means to linger, to stay, to be at a place.

  • Ich halte dich im Park auf.
  • I stop you in the park.
  • Ich halte mich im Park auf.
  • I sojourn/stay in the park.

But are the two meanings really that different? Doesn’t holding up someone imply that that person stays at a place? The reflexive version has just a different focus than the normal one, but that is always the case.

  • I close the door.
  • I close the deal.

Also here, the words are not EXACTLY the same… the same idea taken from different perspectives.
So… if we want to we could also put (sich) aufhalten into group 1. I guess it also makes sense to think of sich aufhalten as a verb of its own. Then I would call this a reflexive verb… because it is special in that it only means what it means when used WITH the reflexive pronoun. Anyway… no matter whether you think of them as separate verbs or not, it can definitely help to try and draw a connection between the normal version and the reflexive one.
Now, I said that there are ones where the meaning change is complete, so let’s look at one of those too.

  • Er schickt es nicht.
  • He doesn’t send it.

Schicken means to send. And used in a reflexive context it means to send oneself. But there is another meaning…

  • Es schickt sich nicht.
  • It is inappropriate.

That is clearly something else. It can be explained when you look back at the history of the verb, but nowadays the second version totally like a verb of its own….  a reflexive verb.

And thus we get to the third group…  verbs that can ONLY be used with a self reference. Remember? English had only like 5 of those.
German has more… way more, and many common ones among them. One example is sich beeilen. It means to hurry up  but in German you can’t use it without a self reference.

  • Ich beeile… WRONG
  • Ich beeile meinen Bruder… WRONG
  • Ich beeile mich... correct.
  • I hurry up.

There is NO logical reason why there is a self reference. It just has to be there.It is part of the verb pretty much. Like a prefix.There is no verb beeilen as there is no verb to clude. There is just conclude and  sich beeilen. And other than prefixes, this purely grammatical self reference doesn’t even carry real meaning. It is just part of the verb. In books these verbs are often called “echt reflexiv”  ( genuine reflexive) as opposed to the phony ones we had earlier. Had we called the other ones just verbs, then we could call these ones reflexive verbs… which would make sense to me because the “reflexiveness” is their essence… but jargon is jargon and I can’t just change it I guess.
There is also something you can’t change.. the fact that you have to learn these reflexive verbs by heart…. hehe… that was mean… but it is true. There is no way around it. Let’s take another example… to catch a cold.

  • Ich erkälte mich.
  • I catch a cold.

There is no logical reason for the the self reference other than it just happened that way. In a parallel universe it might be.

  • Ich erkälte.

and that would make just as much sense. But it’s not. It needs a self reference.Period. This need is in fact so strong, every German thinks of it the verb as sich erkälten… not just erkälten with an optional sich… the sich is part of the verb. So learn sich erkälten... not erkälten.  Sound like a lot of work but that is the bitter truth.
Now… an interesting question is, why? Why does German have so many weird verbs that essentially have no meaning without a self reference. I don’t know for fact but I think the answer might have to do with what we’ve already seen… the tendency that verbs that need an object always NEED an object. And while not true for all the verbs it is especially  true for verbs with prefixes. And if you take a look at the list of real reflexive verbs in German I’ll add a link below, the ones that have the reflexive built in, then you’ll find that many of them are prefix-verbs. For instance beeilen…. or erkälten

All right. Let’s recap. Just like in English, or in any other language I guess, you can use many German verbs in a reflexive context. In grammar books those are called “unecht reflexiv”,  a misleading name because they totally stay true to the reflexive idea.
Then, there is a bunch of verbs that change their meaning if used in a reflexive context. For them, it is up to you if you want to see them as separate verbs or as one facet of the normal verb. The better you are at mind yoga, the easier it becomes. Some sources file those under group 1 but in high grammar they are actually filed under group 3. Me personally, I file my nails.
The third group, called group 3… okay, that was obvious… so, those are verbs that don’t exist without a self reference.  The self reference is like a prefix without meaning and is often just there for grammar’s sake. In grammar books they are called “echt reflexiv“. Those are the ones you need to learn and accept as they are.

mir, mich, sich – what’s up with this

Cool. So now that we know about what types of reflexive there are, let’s take a look at the reflexive pronouns… the words that are the self reference. In English, it is pretty simple. You just add -self or -selves to the personal pronoun and you got it. Sometimes, when, there are several people involved, you’ll have to use each other or one another but that’s it.
In German, the reflexive pronouns are pretty much the same as the personal pronouns. We do this:

  • Du siehst mich (You see me)

  • Ich sehe mich ( I see me.)
  • You wash you.
  • We wash us.

That is pretty cool, actually because we can just use the things we always use. The only difference is the third person… so he she it and they. For all those, the reflexive pronoun is sich. Now, why do we have to have an extra pronoun here? Wouldn’t it be easier to just also use the personal ones? Well, yes it would be easier, but it wouldn’t work. You see, if I say me.. then who could I possibly refer to other than myself. Me is always clear and so is you in a given situation. Him is not clear. Him is not clear. Neither is her or them. There are millions of third persons out there and if there are 2 guys in a room either one can be him. 

  • Mike likes him.

Can’t context clear this up for us? Well, sometimes yes.. but not always… and context is very busy with English anyways :)… so it makes sense to have a special reflexive pronoun for the third person.

  • Mike mag sich.
  • Mike likes himself… this is clear now
  • Mike mag ihn.
  • Mike likes him (some other guy… oh crap… there are 3 guys… uh…  hey, context… uh… do you have a minute?).

The cool thing about sich is that it works for all of them… masculine, feminine, neuter…and even the plural.

  • Thomas mag sich.
  • Maria mag sich.
  • Das Kind mag sich.
  • Die Menschen mögen sich.

So… this sich is the only true reflexive pronoun German has and it is so iconic that even indicates “reflexiveness” itself… just look in a dictionary… the default forms of reflexive verbs are sich somethingsich beeilen, sich ärgern, sich erkälten.
If you want to use such a verb then you just have to insert the appropriate self reference for sich
And this we get to the one last question we have to talk about. What about the whole mir-thing?
We know that German has cases so ich  can become mich (Accusative) at times and mir (date-if) at other times. Mir, dir and so on often (not always) communicate the same as to me, to you

  • Du gibst mir ein Buch.
  • You give a book to me.

  • Du träumst von mir.
  • You dream of me.

And of course those can also be used in a reflexive way.

  • Ich gebe mir Zeit.
  • I give time to me. (lit.)
  • I give myself time..
  • Ich träume von mir.
  • I dream of myself.

Are those reflexive verb then? Well, based on the definitions in English and in German, the answer is yes. And at least they are verbs used reflexively.  But as a matter of fact,there are even real reflexive verbs that need Dative…. you know… the verbs that don’t make sense without the self reference. One example is sich Mühe geben.

  • Ich gebe mir Mühe.
  • I give toil to myself (lit.)
  • I make an effort.

So if anyone ever tells you something is not reflexive because it is mir and not mich… that is not correct. Whether something is reflexive or not has NOTHING to do with whether there is mir or mich.
So.. things with mir can be reflexive too.
And Germans have a soft spot for such mir-reflexives. We use them all the time, even if they are redundant.

  • Ich kaufe mir eine Pizza.
  • I by myself a pizza.

This is even remotely understandable as I could theoretically buy a pizza for someone else. And English similar things sometimes.

  • We got ourselves a cat.

But we also say this:

  • Wir gucken uns einen Film an.
  • We watch a movie.

This self reference makes NO sense. You cannot watch someone else a movie.

  • I watch you a movie…. uh… nope

In a discussion somewhere here (I don’t remember where), a user mentioned that also this exists in English.

  • We watch ourselves a movie.(lit.)

I think someone in Oxford just shed a tear. In German this is pretty much standard, though. People talk that way all the time. Nor does it sound bad in anyway. Without the mir these things would sound a little dry. The mir or dir or uns makes it sound… cozy. That’s what it feels like to me sometimes. Like little Hobbits who got themselves some nice pipe-weed.
In fact we love it so much that we sometimes even prefer it over saying my… in particular in combination with body parts. In German you don’t say

  • I wash my hands.

you say

  • Ich wasche mir die Hände.
  • I wash (to) myself THE hands.

You can say

  • Ich wasche meine Hände.

It’s not wrong. But it sounds mechanical. You could use that in a novel if someone gets home in some kind of catatonic daze.

  • Ich komme nach Hause and schließe die Tür. Ich wasche meine Hände, gehe in die Küche. Ich öffne eine Dose Bohnen und schütte den Inhalt auf einen Teller. Dann setze ich mich an den Tisch. Und dann weine ich.
  • I come home and close the door. I wash hands, go into the kitchen. I open a can of beans and pour the content onto a plate. Then I sit down at the table. Then, I cry.

That’s how life would be without our comfy mir :).Other examples for this mir-usage are sich die Zähne putzen (instead of brushing one’s teeth), sich den Arm brechen (instead of break one’s arm) or sich das Gesicht eincremen (instead of put cream on one’s belly). And there are more. And for all of them, this version sounds sooooo much better than the respective version with my.
All right.
Now, this whole mir-thing doesn’t always work. We don’t say

  • Ich lese mir ein Buch.

or

  • Ich esse mir eine Pizza.

I don’t think there is a real rule though. It is just language in use. You’ll pick it up over time.
So… this was the mir-aspect of reflexive. There is one last thing to say about it and that is some good news. Yeay. The reflexive pronoun sich actually covers both cases. It is always the same… gender, case, plural… there is just one reflexive sich for all of them.

  • Ich sehe mich.
  • I see myself.

  • Sie sieht sich.
  • He sees himself.
  • Ich kaufe mir ein Buch.
  • I my myself a book.
  • Er kauft sich ein Buch.
  • He buys herself a book.

And I think that’s it for to… what?.. oh THAT… oh that’s not a mistake. Her pronouns are he and her.

Anyway, so this was a run through reflexive in German. We didn’t tackle ALL there is to say but I hope you got an impression of what’s going on and what the terminology is.
German uses a lot of its normal verbs in a reflexive context. Then, it has some verbs that change their meaning when used that way. And there are quite a few verbs that don’t even work without the self reference. Those and the “changlings” are the ones I would call reflexive verbs but official definition calls everything with a reflexive pronoun a reflexive verb.
English can use a lot of its verbs in a reflexive way, but often prefers to just don’t say an object altogether. And English has only a handful of verbs that don’t work outside a reflexive context.

As usual, if you have any questions or suggestions, just leave me a comment.
I hope you liked it and we’ll see each other next time :)

4.8 28 votes
Article Rating

Newsletter for free?!

Sign up to my epic newsletter and get notified whenever I post something new :)
(roughly once per week)

No Spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Your Thoughts and Questions

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
155 Comments
Newest
Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Paul Ed
Paul Ed
1 month ago

Hello Emanuel

I came across what look like use of reflexive mir and dir, but when I look up the verbs they dont seem to be reflexive, and the addition of mir/dir don’t even seem to make sense to me given the verb. Are these examples of just making it sound cozy? Should we learn these verbs as reflexive?

Ich hab’ mir mal deinen genommen (I took yours (to myself?))

du solltest dir mal ein Passwort einrichten (You should set a password (for yourself?) [although not sure why it would be dative here?]

TIA

Anna
Anna
2 months ago

Can you please help me describe each of these extreme sport because i must speak on these in class in german. i thought of speaking on Fallsschirmspringen, wildwasser schwimmen bunjee jumping und Parkour

ich muss diese verschiedenen extremsporten einfach auf deutsch erklaeren im Unterricht einige vorteil und nachteil von denen auch erwaehnen und einer der extremsporten genauer beschreiben.

Anna
Anna
2 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Ok thank you for your reply.

Anna
Anna
2 months ago

if you want say i am imagining you to be beautiful how do i say
can i say ich stelle mir dich schoen vor or is it ich stelle mir dich vor, dass du huebsch bist

Anna
Anna
2 months ago

my doubt is
one can say ich stelle mich dir which means i am introducing myself to you
the next sentence ich stelle mir dich is it correct or is it
ich stelle dich mir because when two pronouns come together akkusative preceeds dativ can you please explain.

Anna
Anna
2 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

vielen dank das war sehr Hilfsbereich vielen dank noch mal

Anna
Anna
2 months ago

my doubt is
one can say ich stelle mich dir which means i am introducing myself to you
the next sentence ich stelle mir dich is it correct or is it
ich stelle dich mir because when two pronouns come together akkusative preceeds dativ can you please explain.

Last edited 2 months ago by Anna
Dr.Rami
Dr.Rami
1 year ago

For all readers i should mention that .. “this blog is a super great project”… i am getting heavily addicted on it … i am sinking more and more and don’t feel enough

Dr.Rami
Dr.Rami
1 year ago

another question “forgive my insistence and my plenty inquires”:
in the link there is something about “einander” i couldn’t catch .. a simple clarifying please!!

Dr.Rami
Dr.Rami
1 year ago
Reply to  Emanuel

At the very end of the article there is a link with lists of examples for reflexive verbs
in the article was this:

“Reziproke Verben haben die Besonderheit, dass sie nur im Plural Verwendung finden. Das Reziprokpronomen “sich” lässt sich mit “einander” ersetzen.

Peter liebt Petra und Petra liebt Peter.

Peter und Petra lieben sich.

Sie lieben einander.”
I couldn’t catch the idea

Dr.Rami
Dr.Rami
1 year ago
Reply to  Emanuel

a lot … now it is clear

Dr.Rami
Dr.Rami
1 year ago

“Should I go?”
“No, I go myself.”
But this myself is NOT a reflexive pronoun (it is called intensifying pronoun here) and the situation is not reflexive.

is this “myself” the one which translates to “selbst”? or selbst mean sth else?
why we use “von selbst” instead of “von sich”?

Dr.Rami
Dr.Rami
1 year ago
Reply to  Emanuel

i drove this “von sich/selbst” to discover what can the word “selbst” actually mean …. the difference between these two is not really obvious for me … both are pronoun and have the same core meaning … then which do we use where (apart from reflexiveness)

Dr.Rami
Dr.Rami
1 year ago
Reply to  Dr.Rami

many times long ago i searched for “selbst” .. when things come to it i feel like —–blank—– error404 —– hypnogenesis

Dimitrios Menounos
Dimitrios Menounos
1 year ago

Thank you.

Cases are a piece of cake compared to this. Because there there are definite rules. Reflexive verbs on the other hand give me really hard time. How can I know that Ich wasche mir die Hände instead of meine Hände?

As you said the only way to know is to actually develop some “sense” and that requires an indefinite amount of practice.

ghysenaj
ghysenaj
1 year ago

Ich finde eigentlich Reflexive Verben gar nicht schwer .Da gibt es viele …viele.. schwierige Dinge als Reflexive Verben .Wenn reflexive Verben schwer bezeichnet sind , wie werden dann zbs “die Adjektivendungen” , “alle Verben mit Praepositionen”, “alle Adjektiven mit Praepositionen” “Konnektoren , zweiteile Konnectoren”, “Woerter Geschlecht”…………………..(uzw und so foooort) bezeichnet ?

Edward
Edward
2 years ago

Excellent article.
Question: Sometimes one translates the “sich” into English and other times one should not. Is it correct to say that with group #3, the “genuine” reflexives, one would pretty much never translate the sich into English? You give examples with group #2 where sometimes the sich is translated, and other times not. And presumably with your group #1, sich must always be translated into English.

mw
mw
2 years ago

Sie sieht sich.
He sees himself.

She sees herself.

Zi Ang
Zi Ang
2 years ago

Hello! I saw the following sentence and am wondering if you could help me debunk/decode it.. I know the exact meaning of the sentence.

„an der Hermannstraße wird sich einiges ändern.“

1. Sich ändern = reflexive verb
2. An der Hermannstraße = dative

Then what is the subject?
If it’s passive, then it would have been „ändert“.

What am I missing?

Many thanks in advance!
Cheers.

Liv
Liv
2 years ago

Not that my German is that good, but I am just curious how do genitive reflexive pronouns work/sound like?
The only example that I found: Er hat Amnesia. Er erinnert sich seiner nicht.
Could it be used with other verbs or with other pronouns?
Meiner/deiner…? They look exactly like genitive personal pronouns, right?

demoneyes136
demoneyes136
3 years ago

I arrived here after a German friend commented that her new office “wird sich geduzt” (dropping the German into the middle of an English sentence because, well, you have a word for it and we don’t!). This led to a discussion of why the passive when you could equally say “duzen wir uns” and then I found an online language guide which said quite firmly that you *can’t* use reflexive verbs in the passive … except, er, clearly you can because she just did!

Then I found a fragment from an old language chat where someone said there is an exception in that you *can* use reflexive verbs in the passive for orders – “Jetzt wird sich sofort hingelegt” and then someone called Emanuel (!) commented there that they can also be used in the passive for general announcements e.g. “Hier wird sich beschwert” (on a webpage for customer complaints – “here complaints are made”. Which of course was just the critically useful piece of information I needed and matched my friend’s usage – she was of course right, and that (other!) internet language page was laying down rules without noting the exceptions – which is fine for beginners but less so as you get deeper into it!

Could you perhaps say a few words, either here or as a follow-up article about reflexives and the passive?

Thanks

Phil

Julian Koch
Julian Koch
3 years ago

Hey.. thank you very much for that list about German verbs. But sometimes it would be even more helpful to have some rules and guidelines about a certain topic.. and you could also make some graphics as on https://language-easy.org/g… .. But thanks again and greetings from Bolivia!

Annasc
Annasc
3 years ago

Great explanation of usng “sich” with anyone else but “you” and “me” :) And finally I got that thing with mir/dir adding reflexiveness (I hope you didn’t threw up in your mouth) too.
By the way, the example with a novel hero made me laugh real hard :D
A couple of typos: “I by myself a pizza.” (buy)
“Ich komme nach Hause and schließe die Tür.” (und)

Andrew Ridley
Andrew Ridley
3 years ago

You mentioned treffen as being a transitive verb and hence requiring an object but the Oxford German dictionary says it is also an intransitive verb thus not needing an object?

Jim C
Jim C
4 years ago

I read your article on reflexive verbs, then I went back and reviewed some exercises in my old college textbook. I came across an example “Ich ziehe mir den Regenmantel an.” And all makes sense. Then the textbook had this: “Ich ziehe den Regenmantel an”. And this sentence, now, seems empty- it needs an object, no? Unless it’s an example where the “mir” is missing but understood by the listener. Any thoughts?

ASSH@119198
ASSH@119198
4 years ago

hallo , this is continuation of previous comment.

when an object in the sentence is identical with subject then ,

(1) we have to make sure that , the identical object should be an reflexiv promen . when the verb in that sentence is an reflexiv verb .

# Der Mann wäscht ihn ( FALSCH )
# Der Mann wäscht sich (RICHTIG)

(2) we have to make sure that , the presence of selbst / selber is mandatory after that identical object , if the verb in that sentence is not an reflexiv verb

# Ich kann mir helfen ( FALSCH )
# Ich kann mir selbst helfen (RICHTIG)

#######################################################

if it is possible, can you explain me about reflexiv pronomen as an prapositional objekt .

Hemanth Surineni
Hemanth Surineni
4 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Yaaa , for sure . Sie adressieren den breif an sich ( To be frank , excatly I don’t what does it mean )