L10: Reflexive pronouns

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L10: Reflexive pronouns

Post by Peter »

REFLEXIVE PRONOUNS (Pronomi riflessivi)

me mi
you ti
him/her si
us ci
you vi
them si

Use of reflexive pronouns with verbs

These pronouns are used with reflexive verbs, of which there are many more in Italian than there are in English. Verbs that are reflexive in both languages include divertirsi (to enjoy, amuse oneself), lavarsi (to wash oneself), vestirsi (to dress oneself).


Mi lavo I wash myself
Lui si è divertito alla festa He enjoyed himself at the party
Mamma si è divertita alla festa Mum enjoyed herself at the party
Luca e Marco si vestono ora Luca and Marco dress themselves now

As you can see, when using the passato prossimo of a reflexive verb, you must use the auxiliary verb essere (this is explained more in the Verbs section).

However, there are some verbs that are reflexive in Italian but are either transitive or intransitive in English, such as sentirsi (to feel), svegliarsi (to wake up, awake), alzarsi (to rise, get up, stand up).

Mi sento molto stanco I feel very tired
Vi alzate alle sette ogni mattina You get up at seven o’clock every morning
Ci siamo svegliati alle sette We woke up at seven o’clock

There are also a number of reflexive verbs in Italian that correspond to English verbs that use to get plus the past participle or adjective. Examples of these are spaventarsi (to get scared), perdersi (to get lost), arrabbiarsi (to get angry).

Mi arrabbio tantissimo quando penso di come alcune persone trattano gli animali
I get very angry when I think of how some people treat animals

Mio fratello si perde facilmente, sebbene lui usi un navigatore satellitare!
My brother gets lost easily, even though he uses a satnav!

La situazione era tale che si sono spaventati moltissimo.
The situation was such that they got very scared.

Use of reflexive pronouns with prepositions

In addition to their use with verbs, reflexive pronouns can be used with prepositions, eg to be pleased with oneself. In such cases they are translated into Italian as follows:

(or sé stessi) oneself
me (me stesso/a) myself
te (te stesso/a) yourself
sé (sé stesso) himself
sé (sé stessa) herself
sé (sé stesso/a) itself
noi (noi stessi/e) ourselves
voi (voi stessi/e) yourselves
sé (sé stessi/e) themselves


Mario è molto orgoglioso di sé (di sé stesso)
Mario is very proud of himself

Devi credere in te (in te stesso), Andrea
You must believe in yourself more, Andrea

Quelle ragazze parlano sempre di sé (di se stesse)
Those girls are always talking about themselves

Use of reflexive pronouns in apposition

Apposition is where you have something like I myself, you yourself, etc. This is rendered in Italian by the use of stesso, stessa, etc, which comes immediately after the noun or pronoun it refers to.

Leanna stessa ci ha detto quello che era successo
Leanne told us what had happened herself

Dovete crederlo voi stesse
You have to believe it yourselves

Glielo dirò io stesso
I will tell him myself


By myself, by ourselves, by himself etc, when meaning alone, are translated as da solo, da sola, da soli and da sole.

Sono andati al teatro da soli
They went to the theatre by themselves

Devo farlo da solo, altrimenti non imparerò mai come farlo
I must do it (by) myself, otherwise I will never learn how to do it.

Loro hanno aggiustato il tetto da soli
They repaired the roof (by) themselves

Use of reflexive pronouns in a reciprocal action

The use of reflexive pronouns in this way can be translated as each other, one another, as in the following examples:

Si amano moltissimo
They love each other (one another) very much

Perché non vi parlate?
Why don’t you speak to each other?

Non puoi immaginare quanto ci amiamo!
You cannot imagine how much we love each other (one another)!

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