French reflexive verbs – Les verbes pronominaux

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Ça s’appelle un chou-pomme ou un chou frisé.

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 .

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