Leçons Italien

Thèmes

Reflections on the Reflexive

We talked a little about reflexive personal pronouns in Ci Gets Around. They are: mi (myself), ti (yourself), ci (ourselves), si (himself/herself/itself/themselves), and vi (yourselves). 

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The reflexive is necessary in Italian when someone (or something) is both the doer and the receiver of an action. In the dictionary, a reflexive verb is presented with si joined to the end of the infinitive (and the final e is omitted). For example, we have the transitive form of the verb alzare (to raise) but when it's reflexive, we have alzarsi (to get up, to rise).

 

When we conjugate a reflexive verb, the si will change into a different reflexive pronoun according to the person, and it will be detached from the verb (but close by). 

 

mi alzo

ti alzi 

si alza

ci alziamo

vi alzate

si alzano

 

Let's remember that the conjugation of the verb tells us who is involved. It includes the subject pronoun. So I could also say, although it would be redundant in most cases:

tu ti alzi 

lui si alza

lei si alza

noi ci alziamo

voi vi alzate

loro si alzano

 

As we saw above, alzare means "to raise," but alzarsi means "to rise," "to get up." Sometimes the meaning of the two types of verbs can be close but different. So, for instance, if you hide something, the verb you are looking for is nascondere.

 

E poi, ho pensato di nascondere il corpo e... l'ho caricato in macchina e... non ri', non ricordo più niente.

And then, I thought of hiding the body and... I loaded it into the car and... I can't re', can't remember anything else.

Captions 57-59, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP2 - Vendemmia tardiva

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But if you are the one hiding, you’ll need the reflexive form, nascondersi (literally, to hide oneself). A marine biologist dives down to the bottom of the sea surrounding the Aeolian Islands to show us the beautiful creatures there. The creatures are shy.

 

Probabilmente, sta cercando una tana per nascondersi da me.

She's probably looking for a hole in order to hide from me.

Caption 23, Linea Blu - Le Eolie

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The same holds here, where avvicinare, by itself, means to move something closer. But if you add the reflexive, it’s something or someone that is getting closer. 

 

Il prossimo che si avvicina all'acquario... m'ingoio voi [sic] e tutta la famiglia, hm.

The next one who comes near the aquarium... I'll swallow you and the whole family, hmm.

Captions 57-58, Acqua in bocca - Mp3 Marino

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When it’s all about you, you’ll use the reflexive with many of the verbs you use to talk about your daily routines.

 

Di solito, io mi sveglio alle sette in punto.

Usually, I wake up at seven on the dot.

Caption 5, Marika spiega - L'orologio

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Mi alzo alle sei e mezza.

I get up at six thirty.

Caption 9, Fellini Racconta Un Autoritratto Ritrovato - Part 19

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Mi vesto e ti lascio il bagno.

I'll get dressed and I'll leave you the bathroom.

Caption 48, Sposami EP 1 - Part 11

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Now you should be ready to reflect on the reflexive! Get the whole picture on reflexive verbs here. For the scoop on reflexive pronouns, you can get help here. For even more on the reflexive, see this online resource.

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