Tag Archive | Reflexive Verbs

The Subjunctive in Adjective Clauses

There is even more to the subjunctive than we have already tapped into. I’ve discussed this not too long ago here, here, and here.

An adjective clause is a subordinate clause that describes a noun much as an adjective does. Adjective clauses are also called relative clauses.

Most adjective clauses appear in the indicative:

Il a un travail qui lui plait. | He has a job that he likes.

Nous avons un bureau qui est confortable. | We have an office that’s comfortable.

Je me sers d’un ordinateur qui a beaucoup de mémoire. | I use a computer that has a lot of memory.

Il y a des entreprises ici qui font du commerce avec le Mexique. | There are firms here that trade with Mexico.

However, if the noun of the main clause in not identified or is negated, then the verb of the adjective clause appears in the subjunctive:

Il veut un travail qui lui plaise. | He wants a job that he will like.

On a besoin d’un bureau qui soit confortable. | We need an office that’s comfortable.

Je cherche un ordinateur qui ait beaucoup de mémoire. | I’m looking for a computer that has a lot of memory.

Il n’y a pas d’enterprises ici qui fassent du commerce avec le Mexique. | There are no firms here that trade with Mexico.

The subjunctive is therefore used after il n’y a rien qui/que, il n’y a personne qui/que, and il n’y a aucun/aucune X qui/que:

Il n’y a rien qui me plaise. | There’s nothing that appeals to me.

Il n’y a personne ici qui sache programmer. | There’s no one here who knows how to program.

Il n’y a aucune banque qui soit ouverte. | There’s no bank that’s open.

The indicative is used when there is no negative:

Il y a quelque chose qui me plaît. | There’s something that appeals to me.

Il y a quelqu’un ici qui sait programmer. | There’s someone here who knows how to program.

Il y a une banque qui est ouverte. | There’s a bank that’s open.

There’s even more on this subject, so be sure to come back next week for more! Have a great week, everyone!

A bientôt !



Uses of the Subjunctive

Continuing on with the subjunctive subject, we’ll go over the uses of the subjunctive this week. The present subjunctive is used in subordinate clauses appearing after main clauses that imply that someone wants someone to do something or that someone wants something to happen that is not yet part of reality or that person’s experience.

Verbs of wanting or ordering someone to do something include vouloirdésirersouhaitervouloir bien (to be willing), commanderordonner (to order), and exiger (to demand).

The present subjunctive can follow a verb in any tense in the main clause.

Elle ne veut pas qu’il revienne. | She doesn’t want him to come back.

Nous souhaitons que vous trouviez un poste. | We hope that you will find a job.

Je veux bien que tu fasses sa connaissance. | I’d like for you to meet him.

J’ai ordonné que vous restiez. | I ordered you to remain.

Le prof a exigé que nous sachions tout. |The professor demanded that we know everything.

Verbs permitting, forbidding, and preventing include permettreautoriserdéfendreinterdire (to prohibit/forbid), éviter (to avoid), and empêcher (to avoid/prevent).

Je ne permettrai pas que vous me parliez comme ça. | I won’t allow you to speak to me like that.

Personne n’a autorisé que vous sortiez. | No one has authorised you to go out.

Je défends que tu me répondes sur ce ton. | I forbid you to answer me like that.

Il empêche que nous fassions notre travail. | He’s keeping us from doing our work.

Verbs of asking an suggesting include diredemandersuggérerproposer, and recommander.

Je dis qu’il vienne. | I’m telling him to come.

Il a demandé que tout le monde soit présent. | He asked that everyone be present.

Je suggère qu’ils y aillent. | I suggest that they go there.

Il propose que nous travaillions ensemble. | He suggests that we work together.

Vous recommandez que je prenne l’avion ? | Do you recommend that I take the plane?

Verbs that try to get someone to do something by expressing likes, preferences, or waiting include aimer (to want), aimer mieux (to prefer), préférer (to prefer), accepter (to agree), admettre (to allow), and attendre (to wait for).

J’aimerais que vous m’aidiez. | I’d like for you to help me.

J’aimerais mieux qu’elle s’en aille. | I’d prefer for her to go away.

Personne n’acceptera que tu partes. | No one will agree to your leaving.

Sa mère n’admettre pas qu’elle mette cette robe. | Her mother won’t allow her to wear that dress.

Nous attendons que vous soyez prêt. | We’re waiting for you to be ready.

This wraps up the subjunctive. Let me know if there’s something in particular you would like me to go over in a future post. Have a great week, everyone!

A bientôt !


The Subjunctive in Noun Clauses

A noun clause is a subordinate clause that functions as a noun, that is, it can serve as either the subject or the object of a verb. Noun clauses are introduced in French by the conjunction que.

The following examples have dependent noun clauses in the indicative. They show events perceived as part of reality because they are the objects of verbs such as savoirpenserentendre (dire), and voir.

Jesais que Jérôme habite ce quartier. | I know that Jérôme lives in this neighbourhood.

Je pense que la réunion est en haut. | I think that the meeting is upstairs.

On a entendu dire que l’entreprise a des problèmes. | We have heard that the firm has problems.

Je vois que les résultats sont bons. | I see that the results are good.

Note that in the above examples, the subordinate clauses beginning with que are the direct objects of the verbs. They all answer the question “Qu’est-ce que?

  • Qu’est-ce que tu sais ? → Je sais que Jérôme habite ce quartier.
  • Qu’est-ce que tu penses ? → Je pense que la réunion est en haut.
  • Qu’est-ce que vous avez entendu dire ? → On a entendu dire que l’entreprise a des problèmes.
  • Qu’est-ce que tu vois ?  → Je vois que les résultats sont bons.

Next week I will go over the uses of the subjunctive, so stay tuned for that! Have a great week, everyone!

A bientôt !


Reflexive Verbs with Reciprocal Meaning

In the plural, reflexive verbs may convey a reciprocal meaning equivalent to “each other” in English.

  • Vous vous contactez souvent ?
  • Do you contact each other often?
  • Oui, nous nous téléphonons toutes les semaines.
  • Yes, we phone each other every week.
  • Le chef et les employés vont se parler aujourd’hui ?
  • Are the boss and the employees going to talk to each other today?
  • Oui, ils se sont donné rendez-vous à 14h00.
  • Yes, they have made an appointment (to see each other) at 2 o’clock.

In my last example, ils se sont donné rendez-vous there is no agreement of the past participle because the reflexive pronoun se is an indirect object. To determine whether or not the past participle agrees with passé composé, determine if the non-reflexive verb takes a direct or an indirect object. In this case, donner takes an indirect object of the person (donner quelque chose à quelqu’un), so se is an indirect object.

More examples:

  • voir quelqu’un – ils se sont vus.
    • Quelqu’un is a direct object; the past participle agrees with the preceding direct object se.
  • écrire à quelqu’un – ils se sont écrit.
    • Quelqu’un is an indirect object; there is no agreement of the past participle because se is an indirect object.

In the colloquial style where on replaces nouson se may have a reciprocal (“each other”) meaning:

  • On s’aime beaucoup.
  • We love each other very much.
  • On ne se ment pas.
  • We don’t lie to each other.

Below is a list of some reciprocal verbs. Note that anything marked with an asterisk * indicates that the reflexive pronoun is an indirect object.

  • *s’acheter des cadeaux – to buy gifts for each other
  • s’aider – to help each other
  • s’aimer – to love each other
  • se comprendre – to understand each other
  • se connaître – to know each other
  • se détester – to hate each other
  • *se donner rendez-vous – to make an appointment to see each other
  • *s’écrire – to write to each other
  • s’entraider – to help each other
  • *s’envoyer des courriels – to send each other emails
  • *se faire mal – to hurt each other
  • *se mentir – to lie to each other
  • *se parler – to speak to each other
  • *se poser des questions – to ask each other questions
  • se pousser – to push each other
  • se regarder – to look at each other
  • se rencontrer – to meet/run into each other
  • *se ressembler – to look alike
  • se retrouver – to meet (by appointment)
  • *se téléphoner – to phone each other
  • se voir – to see each other

Merci à vous ! A la prochaine…


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.


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 !