Tag Archive | Pronominal Verbs

Omitting the Possessive Adjective

In an imperative or command:

In French, possessive adjectives are used to modify the noun they precede.

Voici ma mère. | This is my mother.


Regarde ma nouvelle voiture ! | Look at my new car!

A common construction is one where the possessive adjective is dropped in an imperative or command (and replaced with a definite article along with a personal pronoun) only if an action is being taken on a physical attribute (head, back, arm etc.). In the following examples, action is not being taken on the physical attribute, therefore the possessive adjective remains.

Regarde mon dos. | Look at my back.


Remarque mes cheveux. | Notice my hair.

In the following examples, an action is being taken on the physical attribute.

Masse-moi le dos. | Massage my back.


Coupe-moi les cheveux. | Cut my hair.


Tiens-moi la main. | Hold my hand.

Verb

Possessive Adjective

Noun

masse

mon

dos

coupe

mes

cheveux

↙↘

Verb

Personal Pronoun

Definite Article

Noun

masse

moi

le

dos

coupe

moi

les

cheveux


In a statement:

The possessive adjective may also be dropped in a statement only if an action is being taken on the physical attribute. In the following examples, an action is not being taken.

Je regarde son dos. | I’m looking at his/her back.


Elle remarque ses cheveux. | She’s noticing his/her hair.

In the following examples, an action is being taken on the physical attribute.

Je lui masse le dos. | I’m massaging his/her back.


Elle me coupe les cheveux. | She’s cutting my hair.

The possessive adjective takes the form of the appropriate personal pronoun and is placed before the verb, and a definite article is placed before the object. The same applies to pronominal verbs (when the action is being done to oneself).

  • I wash my hands. = Je me lave les mains.
  • She brushes her hair. = Elle se brosse les cheveux.

Subject

Verb

Possessive Adjective

Object

je

masse

son

dos

elle

coupe

mes

cheveux

↙↘

Subject

Personal Pronoun

Verb

Definite Article

Object

je

lui

masse

le

dos

elle

me

coupe

les

cheveux


In the past tense (passé composé):

In the past tense as well, the personal pronoun is placed after the subject (just as it is in the present tense).

Subject

Personal Pronoun

Verb

Definite Article

Object

je

lui

masse

le

dos

elle

me

coupe

les

cheveux

↙↘

Subject

Personal Pronoun

Avoir

Past Participle

Definite Article

Object

je

lui

ai

massé

le

dos

elle

m’

a

coupé

les

cheveux


In the past tense using pronominal verbs:

The construction for using pronominal verbs is much like using passé composé with the exception that, as with all reflexive verbs, the past participle is conjugated with être.

Subject

Personal Pronoun

Être

Past Participle

Definite Article

Object

je

me

suis

lavé

les

mains

elle

s’

est

cassé

la

jambe


I hope everyone is doing well and having a wonderful week!

Merci à vous !

Courtney

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Lesson 15 – Reflexive Verbs

Leçon 15 – Reflexive Verbs

In French, reflexive verbs, or pronominal verbs (verbes pronominaux), always appear with the pronoun that refers to the person or thing as the subject. It’s not the same as in English, where these types of verbs usually imply that the subject is doing something to him/herself. (Example: I dress myself. The little boy hurt himself.)

Reflexive verbs are always listed in the infinitive with se or s’ in front of the infinitive:

  • se reveiller – to wake up
  • s’amuser – to have fun/a good time
  • se détendre – to relax
  • s’endormir – to fall asleep

 

Formation of Reflexive Verbs

se reveiller

je me réveille

tu te réveilles

il/elle/on se réveille

nous nous réveillons

vous vous réveillent

 

Reflexive and Non Reflexive Verb Pairs

French verbs are either transitive or intransitive. French transitive verbs must appear with a direct object, while French intransitive verbs cannot appear with a direct object. Most pronominal verbs have a transitive counterpart – a non reflexive verb that must have a direct object.

Examples of transitive verbs:

  • s’amuser quelqu’un – to amuse someone
  • approcher la chaise – to move the chair closer
  • ennuyer les enfants – to bore the children
  • habiller le bébé – to dress the baby
  • laver le parquet – to wash the floor
  • offenser quelqu’un – to offend someone
  • promener le chien – to walk the dog
  • réveiller les enfants – to wake up the children

 

Now here are examples of those same verbs but as reflexive verbs:

  • s’amuser – to have a good time
  • s’approcher – to approach/move closer
  • s’ennuyer – to get bored
  • s’habiller – to get dressedd
  • se laver – to wash up
  • s’offenser – to get insulted
  • se promener – to take a walk
  • se réveiller – to wake up

 

The best way to understand French reflexive verbs is to think of the reflexive pronoun (me, te, se, nous, vous, se) as taking place of the required direct object (je, tu, il/elle/on, nous, vous, ils/elles) with the transitive verbs when there is no direct object present.

Reflexive verbs are common in expressing of one’s daily routine:

  • se coucher – to go to bed
  • se débarbouiller – to wash one’s face
  • se déshabiller – to get undressed
  • se détendre – to relax
  • s’endormir – to fall asleep
  • se fatiguer – to get tired
  • s’habiller – to get dressed
  • se laver – to wash up
  • se lever – to get up
  • se maquiller – to put on makeup
  • se peigner – to comb one’s hair
  • se raser – to shave
  • se reposer – to rest
  • se réveiller – to wake up
  • se soigner – to take care of oneself

 

Other expressions related to our daily routine use the reflexive verb followed by a direct object. In these expressions, the reflexive pronouns are indirect objects. This is most common with parts of the body:

  • se brosser les cheveux – to brush one’s hair
  • se brosser les dent – to brush one’s teeth
  • se casser le bras – to break one’s arm
  • se couper le doigt – to cut one’s finger
  • se couper les cheveux – to cut one’s hair
  • se couper/limer les ongles – to cut/file one’s nails
  • se laver les mains – to wash one’s hands
  • se laver la tête – to wash one’s hair
  • se sécher les cheveux – to dry one’s hair

 

Many verbs of motion follow the same pattern.

  • s’allonger – to stretch out, to lie down
  • s’approcher de – to approach, move closer
  • s’arrêter – to stop
  • s’asseoir – to sit down
  • se dépêcher – to hurry up
  • se déplacer – to move, move about, travel
  • se diriger ver – to head toward
  • s’éloigner de – to move away from
  • s’installer – to move in, settle in
  • se mettre debout – to stand up
  • se mettre en route – to set out
  • se promener – to take a walk
  • se réunir – to get together
  • se trouver – to be located

 

Passé Composé of Reflexive Verbs

All reflexive verbs are conjugated with être in the passé composé. In the passé composé of a reflexive verb, the past participle agrees with the reflexive pronoun, not the subject, if that pronoun is a direct object.

s’amuser

je me suis amusé(e)

tu t’es amusé(e)

il s’est amusé

elle s’est amusée

on s’est amusé/amusés/amusées

nous nous sommes amusé(e)s

vous vous êtes amusé(e)(s)

ils se sont amusés

elles se sont amusées

 

Please leave any comments you may have, I love hearing from you! Do you have any fun learning tools for these subjects? Like music, or poems, or videos? Please share if you do!

 

Merci à vous !

Courtney