The Reflex!

No, not more classic pop.

I was doing my French homework this evening, and one of my tasks was to find the reflexive verbs in a Youtube video about French clichés. What’s that? What’s a reflexive verb? Good question.

A reflexive verb is one in which the subject and object are the same. Most transitive verbs (ones which require an object) can be a reflexive verb.

I enjoyed the film (not reflexive).

I enjoyed myself last night (reflexive!)

Nothing amazing there, but Romance languages contain many reflexive verbs whose equivalents aren’t reflexive in English. We can say, for example, just I wash every morning, but in French and Italian it’s necessary to say the equivalent of I wash myself (Je me lave/mi lavo).

At least in that case we could also say I wash myself in English. But what about I get up? Again, that’s reflexive for our Romantic friends: je me lève/mi alzo.

Of course this leads to understandable errors when speakers of these languages translate directly from their languages into English (I get up would basically be I raise myself). This is particularly true with the verb to feel. I feel fine translates to Je me sense bien/Mi sento bene, which could be translated back, literally, to I feel myself well.

And if you don’t get a childish chuckle from that, well, I don’t want to know you.

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