Italian reflexive verbs lesson and conjugation

Italian Reflexive Verbs Master Lesson & Conjugation

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Welcome to this comprehensive guide on Italian reflexive verbs. In the following article, you will learn what reflexive verbs are, the different types, common reflexive verbs lists, how to recognize and conjugate them correctly. You will see reflexive verb examples and do some exercises to practice.

This guide aims to help you master this essential aspect of Italian grammar and grow your Italian verb vocabulary and knowledge. So let’s dive in and start learning how to conjugate reflexive verbs in Italian!



What Are Italian Reflexive Verbs?

Italian reflexing verbs are verbs that directly refer to the subject; they reflect the action onto the subject, hence the name.

These verbs take a particle that acts as the pronoun, and it usually precedes the verb.



Three Types of Italian Reflexive Verbs

The three types of reflexive verbs in the Italian language are called apparenti, reciproci, and predominali.

Apparent reflexive verbs are those reflexive verbs that refer to the subject alone.

Example: Di venerdì, mi lavo i capelli. (On Fridays, I wash my hair)


Reflexive reciprocal verbs are those that refer to two multiple subjects, usually when the action is reciprocal, hence the name. For example, to greet each other is a reciprocal action (salutarsi), so is to kiss each other (baciarsi).

Example: Salutiamoci ora perché poi non ti vedo.
(Let’s say goodbye now as then I won’t see you)


Reflexive verbs that are called predominali in Italian are reflexive verbs where the pronoun particle is always present. In other words, these verbs can’t be used without the pronoun particle as non-reflexive verbs. They are always reflexive.

Here’s a list of these types of reflexive verbs:
Accorgersi
Arrendersi
Imbattersi
Lamentarsi
Pentirsi
Ribellarsi
Vergognarsi

Don’t worry about conjugating them. They can be conjugated just like the other reflexive verbs.

Examples:
Io mi accorgo. (I notice)
Tu ti arrendi. (I give up)
Lui si imbatte. (He encounters)
Noi ci lamentiamo. (We complain)
Voi vi pentite. (You regret)
Loro si ribellano. (They rebel)
Io mi vergogno. (I feel ashamed)



Italian Reflexive Verbs List

Whether you are a beginner or a more advanced Italian learner, here’s a list of reflexive verbs to practice with. You’ll also find the correct preposition to be used with those that take one.



Grammar Notes About The Verbi Riflessivi

  1. Italian reflexive verbs can be transitive and intransitive.

Here’s the rule to understand which type they are:

A transitive verb answers the questions of who or what (chi? Che cosa?) while an intransitive verb doesn’t. 

Usually, if the verb is transitive, or can answer the question what?, then you need to use avere as the auxiliary. When a verb can’t answer those questions, it’s called intransitive, and it takes the auxiliary essere. 

Independently of whether they are transitive or intransitive, reflexive verbs take the auxiliary verb essere.


  1. When the verb is in the infinitive, gerund or imperative mode the pronoun particle is connected to the root of the verb – farsi (fare + si), regalarsi (regalare + si), darsi (dare + si), alzarsi (alzare + si).


  1. When Italian reflexive verbs are conjugated in the first, second, and third person singular or plural, the pronoun particle precedes the verb – io mi faccio, tu ti regali, lui si da, noi ci alziamo.



Italian Reflexive Pronouns

To conjugate a reflexive verb correctly you must know the reflexive pronouns. Let’s learn them.

Each person, singular and plural, has its pronoun particle. Here they are.

Io – mi
Tu – ti
Lui/lei/esso – si
Noi – ci
Voi – vi
Loro – si


Let’s take the example of the verb lavarsi and see how it changes for each of the pronouns above. I will give the infinitive for each, followed by the present tense.

Io – lavarmi, io mi lavo
Tu – lavarti, tu ti lavi
Lui/lei/esso – lavarsi, lui si lava
Noi – lavarci, noi ci laviamo
Voi – lavarvi, voi vi lavate
Loro – lavarsi, loro si lavano

In the above examples, you can see the grammar rules 3 and 4 I shared earlier in action.


How to Recognize Reflexive Verbs in Italian

Here are two things to do to help you know that a verb is reflexive.

  1. Look for the pronoun particle (io mi lavo i denti).
  2. Check that the noun or object of the sentence refers to the subject (in the above example, i denti (the object or noun) belongs to me (io, the subject).


Top Tip: Don’t Use a Pronoun Twice in the Same Sentence

The pronoun particle is already referring to the person so you don’t need the possessive pronoun too.


Look at the examples below, one is correct and the other is wrong.

Io mi faccio i capelli. (correct)
Io mi faccio i miei capelli. (not correct)

La mamma si sta facendo la doccia. (correct)
La mamma si sta facendo la sua doccia. (incorrect)



How To Conjugate Italian Reflexive Verbs

Italian reflexive verbs are conjugated just like their root verb but with the pronoun particle preceding them.

Let’s Practice by conjugating the verb vestirsi (to get dressed) from vestire (to dress).


Present Tense (Presente)

io mi vesto
tu ti vesti
lui si veste
noi ci vestiamo
voi vi vestite
loro si vestono

Translation: I dress myself, you dress yourself, he/she/it dresses himself/herself/itself, we dress ourselves, you dress yourselves, they dress themselves.


Past Tense (Imperfetto)

io mi vestivo
tu ti vestivi
lui si vestiva
noi ci vestivamo
voi vi vestivate
loro si vestivano

Translation: I dressed myself, you dressed yourself, he dressed himself, we dressed ourselves, you dressed yourselves, they dressed themselves.


Past Tense (Passato Prossimo)

io mi sono vestito
tu ti sei vestito
lui si è vestito
noi ci siamo vestiti
voi vi siete vestiti
loro si sono vestiti

Translation: I have dressed myself, you have dressed yourself, she has dressed herself, we have dressed ourselves, you have dressed yourselves, they have dressed themselves.


Future (Futuro Semplice)

io mi vestirò
tu ti vestirai
lui si vestirà
noi ci vestiremo
voi vi vestirete
loro si vestiranno

Translation: I will dress myself, you will dress myself, it will dress itself, we will dress ourselves, you will dress yourselves, they will dress themselves.


Past Participle (Participio Passato)

Vestito (dressed)


Infinitive (Infinito Presente)

Vestirsi (to dress oneself)


Vestirsi conjugation
Vestirsi conjugation


You can practice the conjugation of four other reflexive verbs below.


Svegliarsi Conjugation

Svegliarsi conjugation
Svegliarsi conjugation



Mangiarsi Conjugation

Mangiarsi conjugation
Mangiarsi Conjugation



Farsi Conjugation

Farsi conjugation
Farsi conjugation



Chiamarsi Conjugation

Chiamarsi conjugation
Chiamarsi conjugation



Italian Reflexive Verbs Example Sentences 

In this section, I will include one example for each of the verbs listed in the reflexive verbs list I gave you earlier.

PS: I divided the examples in sets so they are easier to digest.


Set 1

Preferisco non abbronzarmi. (I prefer not to tan.)

Mi sto abituando al nuovo lavoro. (I’m getting used to the new job.)

Mi accontento di ciò che ho. (I’m satisfied with what I have.)

Mi addormento sempre presto la sera. (I always go to sleep early in the evening.)

Mi sto allontanando dalla città per un po’. (I’m moving away from the city for a while.)


Set 2

Mi alzo sempre alle sette del mattino. (I always get up at seven in the morning.)

Mi annoio quando non ho niente da fare. (I get bored when I have nothing to do.)

Non mi aspetto molto da questa riunione. (I don’t expect much from this meeting.)

Si batterono per difendere i loro diritti. (They fought to defend their rights.)

Mi sono bruciato la mano con l’acqua bollente. (I burned my hand with boiling water.)


Set 3

Mi cambio prima di uscire. (I change clothes before going out.)

Il cane si chiama Max. (The dog’s name is Max.)

Mi chiedo cosa faremo domani. (I wonder what we will do tomorrow.)

Dovresti comportarti in modo più gentile. (You should behave more kindly.)

Mi sono comprato un nuovo libro. (I bought myself a new book.)


Set 4

Mi corico sempre tardi durante il fine settimana. (I always go to bed late on weekends.)

Mi sono deciso a imparare una nuova lingua. (I decided to learn a new language.)

Ci siamo detti addio alla stazione. (We said goodbye at the train station.)

Ci siamo divertiti molto alla festa. (We had a lot of fun at the party.)

Mi domando cosa succederà domani. (I wonder what will happen tomorrow.)


Set 5

Si è espresso molto chiaramente durante la riunione. (He expressed himself very clearly during the meeting.)

Mi faccio i capelli ogni mattina. (I do my hair every morning.)

Mi faccio il bagno prima di cena. (I take a bath before dinner.)

Mi faccio la barba ogni giorno. (I shave every day.)

Mi sono fatto male al ginocchio. (I hurt my knee.)


Set 6

Si sono fidanzati lo scorso anno. (They got engaged last year.)

Si guardavano negli occhi innamorati. (They looked at each other with love in their eyes.)

Si lamentava sempre del lavoro. (He always complained about work.)

Mi lavo le mani prima di mangiare. (I wash my hands before eating.)

Mi metto a studiare ogni pomeriggio. (I start studying every afternoon.)


Set 7

Mi nascondo sotto le coperte quando ho paura. (I hide under the covers when I’m scared.)

Si occupa della sua famiglia con amore. (She takes care of her family with love.)

Mi pettino prima di uscire. (I comb my hair before going out.)

Mi preoccupo sempre per il futuro. (I always worry about the future.)

Mi sto preparando a partire per le vacanze. (I’m getting ready to leave for vacation.)


Set 8

Si è presentato alla riunione con un nuovo progetto. (He introduced himself at the meeting with a new project.)

Mi sono rassegnato alla sua decisione. (I resigned myself to his decision.)

Mi sono reso conto che ho sbagliato. (I realized that I was wrong.)

Mi ricordo sempre il tuo compleanno. (I always remember your birthday.)

Mi riposo dopo pranzo per un’ora. (I rest after lunch for an hour.)

Mi sono rotto una gamba. (I broke my leg.)


Set 9

Si è sbagliato sull’ora dell’appuntamento. (He was mistaken about the appointment time.)

Mi devo sbrigare o perderò il treno. (I need to hurry or I’ll miss the train.)

Mi siedo sulla sedia accanto alla finestra. (I sit on the chair next to the window.)

Mi servo del computer per lavorare. (I use the computer for work.)

Mi sono sorpreso del suo comportamento. (I was surprised by his behavior.)

Mi sto specializzando in medicina. (I’m specializing in medicine.)


Set 10

Si sono sposati con una cerimonia intima. (They got married in an intimate ceremony.)

Mi sveglio sempre presto la mattina. (I always wake up early in the morning.)

Mi sono tagliato con il coltello da cucina. (I cut myself with the kitchen knife.)

Mi trovo bene in questa città. (I feel good in this city.)

Mi trucco leggermente per uscire. (I put on light makeup to go out.)

Si vantava sempre dei suoi successi. (He always boasted about his successes.)

Mi vesto sempre con abiti comodi. (I always dress in comfortable clothes.)



Italian Reflexive Verbs Exercises

Test your knowledge of Italian reflexive verbs with these fill-in-the-blank exercises.


1. Marta ___________ (pettinarsi) i capelli prima di uscire.

2. Oggi ___________ (svegliarsi) tardi perché ho dimenticato di impostare la sveglia.

3. Non ___________ (accorgersi) del pericolo e è caduto.

4. Gli studenti ___________ (divertirsi) molto durante la gita scolastica.

5. Prima di cena, Maria e Giorgio ___________ (lavarsi) le mani.

6. Io ___________ (vestirsi) sempre prima di fare colazione.

7. Marco ___________ (lamentarsi) sempre del cibo in mensa.

8. Durante la riunione, i dipendenti ___________ (presentarsi) con le proprie proposte.

9. La nonna ___________ (addormentarsi) sempre dopo pranzo.

10. Noi ___________ (ricordarsi) di portare l’ombrello in caso di pioggia.


{Answers: si pettina, mi sono svegliato, si e’ accorto, si sono divertiti, si lavano, mi vesto, si lamenta, si sono presentati, si addormenta, ricordiamoci.}



Final Thoughts

And there you have it – everything you need to know about Italian reflexive verbs! We covered the reflexive verb definition, types of reflexive verbs, common reflexive verbs lists, how to recognize and correctly conjugate reflexive verbs using the appropriate reflexive pronouns. You practiced with reflexive verb examples and did some exercises too. I hope you feel equipped to start using reflexive verbs confidently in your Italian speech and writing.

Don’t forget to also continue expanding your Italian vocabulary by learning other common Italian verbs like these ones:

Essere
Avere
Verbs ending in -are, -ere and -ire



FAQ

What’s the reflexive verb to shower in Italian?

Farsi la doccia (literally “make oneself the shower”)

What are common reflexive verbs in Italian?

Some common reflexive verbs are svegliarsi (to wake up), vestirsi (to get dressed), sedersi (to sit down), divertirsi (to have fun).

How many reflexive verbs exist in the Italian language?

There are hundreds of reflexive verbs in Italian. An exact number is difficult to state.

Where do you add the reflexive pronoun with a reflexive verb? 

The reflexive pronoun (mi, ti, si, ci, vi) goes before the conjugated verb.

How to use reflexive verbs in Italian?

Conjugate the reflexive verb with the appropriate reflexive pronoun before it. E.g. Io mi sveglio presto (I wake up early).

What’s oneself in Italian?

Oneself translates to se stesso/a in Italian. In reflexive verbs, the pronoun si also stands for oneself.

Is the reflexive pronoun in Italian placed before the verb or after?  

Before the conjugated verb.

Examples of reflexive verbs in the present: 

Io mi lavo (I wash myself), Lui si pettina (He combs his hair), Noi ci sediamo (We sit down).

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