Reflexive Verbs in English

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JediMaster

Senior Member
USA
English, United States
Would you consider the following a true statement?

One uses reflexive verbs when the subject of the sentence is also the object of the verb. In English, one simply adds the appropriate pronoun compounded with the ending –self or ­–selves after the verb...


Thanks!
 
  • Quelqu'un

    Member
    English, US
    Yes, I would say it's true. I would add that English does not use the reflexive pronouns in many instances where reflexiveness is implied ("I bathe" rather than "I bathe myself"), whereas other languages use reflexive pronouns more frequently.
     

    JediMaster

    Senior Member
    USA
    English, United States
    Good point about the bathing. This is for a paper in which I'm comparing reflexive verbs in English to those in Spanish, so I think I'll include that example. Thanks!

    PS: welcome to the forums!
     

    Tresley

    Senior Member
    British English
    I don't think that we use reflexive verbs in English as much as in Spanish.

    Thinking of my routine each morning, not many are reflexive. If I were to describe my morning routine in Spanish, then most of the verbs would be reflexive.

    Typical morning routine:

    I get up
    I have a wash or I have a bath or I have a shower
    I dry myself
    I get dressed
    I comb my hair

    Only one of those is reflexive in English. I can't write the Spanish here, because it's the English only forum, but they would all be reflexive in Spanish, wouldn't they?

    One way reflexive verbs are used in English is to stress that someone can do something without help.

    For example a young child might proudly say:

    I dress myself every morning now, without mum's help! [With the stress on the word myself]

    Just a thought. Let me know what you think.
     

    Quelqu'un

    Member
    English, US
    In English, reflexive pronouns are also intensive pronouns, which is what I think Tresley is referring to. I'm not allowed to post a URL right now, but Googling "intensive pronoun" will lead to some more information. Thanks for the welcome. These forums are really friendly.
     

    Tresley

    Senior Member
    British English
    In English, reflexive pronouns are also intensive pronouns, which is what I think Tresley is referring to. I'm not allowed to post a URL right now, but Googling "intensive pronoun" will lead to some more information. Thanks for the welcome. These forums are really friendly.
    Thank you Quelqu'un, I couldn't think of the correct term. Yes, I did mean 'intensive pronouns'.

    Another example is a sick person in bed saying:

    "I can feed myself, I don't want a nurse to help me"!

    Thanks for the terminology and, by the way, welcome to Word Reference!
     

    JediMaster

    Senior Member
    USA
    English, United States
    yes, these are along the lines of what I'm addressing in my paper. Thanks for the term! I'll google it.

    Thank you both! ^_^
     

    David

    Banned
    JediMaster, you are working on a very interesting topic. Have you noticed the heavy influence of English on Spanish with regard to the diminishing use of the impersonal reflexive in Spanish? Where people used to say, "Se requiere la presentación de documentos," they are more likely to say nowadays "Usted tendrá que presentar sus documentos." Where the reflexive was formerly used almost exclusively with expressions such as "me interesa," nowadays we are very likely to see the Englishoid locution "Yo estoy interesado en..." (which really has to do with the difference between being an interested party, as opposed to being interested in some subject...)
     

    Fernita

    Senior Member
    castellano de Argentina.
    1-General Use:
    We can use most transitive verbs with reflexive pronouns when the meaning is appropriate.

    He blamed himself for the accident.
    The escaped prisoner turned himself in to the police.
    You've really excelled yourself this time.

    A very few verbs that are normally intransitive can be used transitively with reflexive pronouns:
    They behaved themselves very well.

    2- Verbs that are always reflexive:
    He busied himself cleaning the room.
    You´ll have to content yourself with second place.
    They prided themselves on their performance.
    They availed themselves of the free coffee.

    3-Verbs that are commonly reflexive:
    He proved himself to be unreliable. Don´t kid yourself: he´s completely untrustworthy. Put yourself together. If you don´t stop working for a bit you´ll wear yourself out.

    Other verbs that we commonly use reflexively include:
    assert, distinguish, commit, exert, repeat, suit.

    4- There are verbs that change their meaning when used reflexively:

    Beethoven composed an enormous amount of music. But: I took a deep breath and composed myself.
    Please, explain what you mean. But: You need to explain yourself (give reason for your behaviour)
    He applied for the job. But: He´ll have to apply himself to the work more.

    Hope it helps you!
    Best regards,
    Fernita :)
     
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