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Reflexive Verbs (Reflexive Verben)


In German, too, there are reflexive verbs (Reflexive Verben): “wash,” “dress,” “rejoice.” The particle “-sya” means “myself.” In German, this particle is separated into the reflexive pronoun “sich”. That is, in German you literally say: “Ich wasche mich” – “I wash me,” “du wäschst dich” – “you wash you.”
Reflexive verbs

used with the case of Akkusativ or Dativ, depending on the relation of the verb to the one who performs it. We have already talked about pronouns in the Nominativ, Akkusativ and Dativ cases. The reflexive pronoun behaves slightly differently than ordinary pronouns.


ich – mich (I – me);

ich vorbereite mich – I prepare (I prepare myself);

du – dich (you – you);

du vorbereitest dich – you prepare (prepare yourself);

er, sie, es – sich (he is his, she is hers, it is his);

er vorbereitet sich – he prepares (prepares himself);

wir – uns (we – us);

wir vorbereiten uns – we are preparing (prepare ourselves);

ihr – euch (you are you);

ihr vorbereitet euch – you prepare (prepare yourself);

sie – sich (they are theirs);

sie vorbereiten sich – they prepare (prepare themselves);

Sie – sich (you – you) – a polite form of address;

Sie vorbereiten sich – You prepare (prepare yourself).

The difference is noticeable in the third person singular and plural, and in a polite manner. That is, in those places where ordinary pronouns do not change in Akkusativ.

As we have already noted, besides Akkusativ, reflexive verbs may require Dativ: not “me”, but “me”.

Ich stelle mich vor – I introduce myself (“I represent whom?” – “myself”, then we use the accusative case – Akkusativ).

Ich stelle mir vor – I imagine (“imagine to whom?” – “to myself”, then we use the dative case – Dativ).

The reflexive pronoun in the dative case, too, as in Akkusativ, is changed to “sich” in the third person singular and plural, and in a polite form (“Sie”). In all other cases, it behaves like a regular pronoun in Dativ:

ich – mir;
du – dir;
er, sie, es – sich;
wir – uns;
ihr – euch;
sie, sie –

Usually Reflexive Verben uses the reflexive pronoun in the Akkusativ case, but there are also those that require the Dativ case. Sometimes it is possible to draw analogies with the Russian language, and sometimes the logic of such verbs is different. Best of all is to memorize in which case you need to put a reflexive pronoun for each particular verb as soon as you learn them.
Example of reflexive verbs in the Akkusativ case:

sich beschweren (über) – complain (about);
sich ärgern (über) – get angry (about);
sich erholen – to rest;
sich waschen – wash;
sich vorbereiten (auf) – prepare;
sich unterhalten (mit) – have fun / talk;
sich freuen – rejoice;

Example of reflexive verbs in the case of Dativ:

sich merken – to notice (to yourself);
sich ansehen – watch;
sich anhören – listen;
sich überlegen – ponder, figure out;
sich etwas denken – to think (to yourself) something;

When using the Dativ-form, there is usually an Akkusativ object that takes up the question “who, what”. “Ich schaue mir den Film an” – “I’m watching a movie.” We use the reflexive verb in the case of Dativ, which means that the object that we “see for ourselves” answers the question “who? What?” (den Film).

Be careful when learning new verbs, it is better to memorize immediately what kind of reflexive pronoun they require after themselves. With many, but not with all, the same logic works as in Russian.

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