Les verbes pronominaux – French reflexive verbs
Lots of French verbs have a SE – or S’ – in front of them. I like to call them ‘SE-verbs’. In English though, they’re called ‘reflexive verbs’. For instance, you’ll hear that ‘SE PROMENER', 'S'APPELER' or 'S’AMUSER' are reflexive verbs. However, to be more accurate, we should call these verbs ‘pronominal’ verbs.
Pronominal verbs can be threefold.
reflexive --> reflexive verb
reciprocal --> reciprocal verb
passive --> passive verb
They are reflexive when the action of the verb is done onto itself.
il se regarde dans le miroir
he looks at himself in the mirror
Il s’appelle M. Dupont.
His name is Mr. Dupont.
They are reciprocal when the action of the verb is done onto one another.
elle nous réveille
she wakes us up
Elle nous appelle le dimanche toutes les semaines.
She calls us on Sunday every week.
They are passive pronominal when the subject of the sentence undergoes the action, and is not doing the action itself.
le français se parle
French is spoken
Ça s’appelle un chou-pomme ou un chou frisé.
It’s called a Savoy cabbage.
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Related: Reflexive pronouns . Reflexive vs. non-reflexive verbs list . Other Grammar Points .