Reflexive use of verbs

A verb is said to be used reflexively when it has a pronoun object, direct or indirect, which refers to the subject (I see myself, he talks to himself, etc.). In English relatively few verbs are used reflexively; in Italian, a great many are. Indeed, almost any Italian verb that normally needs an object to complete its meaning (i.e., a transitive verb) can be used reflexively.

The reflexive verbal construction consists of two parts: the verb itself and the reflexive pronoun. In the infinitive form, the reflexive pronoun is attached to the end of the verb: alzarsi (to get up; cf. alzare, to raise), divertirsi (to enjoy one’s self, to have a good time; cf. divertire, to amuse, to entertain [someone else]).

The reflexive verbs are conjugated as follows:

alzarsi (to get [oneself] up)                       divertirsi– to have fun

mi alzo          ci alziamo                              mi diverto         ci divertiamo

ti alzi             vi alzate                                 ti diverti            vi divertite

si alza            si alzano                                si diverte           si divertono


Observe that the verb itself is conjugated just like any other verb, according to the conjugation to which it belongs.

Note the difference between alzarsi (to get oneself up / to arise) and svegliarsi (to wake up / to awaken).



Italian for Reading & Translation Copyright © by Lauren Surovi and Carleton W. Carroll. All Rights Reserved.

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