Się when there is no object/intransitive way

涼宮

Senior Member
Sbaeneg/Castellano (Venezuela)
Good evening!

I was wondering if this, that works in Russian, works in Polish too since I've noticed that Slavic languages are more related to each other in general than other family languages, such as Germanic and Romance languages.

In Russian, when a verb doesn't have an object, works in an intransitive way or indicates a permanent state you use the reflexive form.

For instance:

A) The door opened.
B) The film begins.
C) The dog bites.

All of them use the reflexive particle, does Polish do it too?

Thanks in advance! :)
 
  • Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Good evening!

    I was wondering if this, that works in Russian, works in Polish too since I've noticed that Slavic languages are more related to each other in general than other family languages, such as Germanic and Romance languages.

    In Russian, when a verb doesn't have an object, works in an intransitive way or indicates a permanent state you use the reflexive form.

    For instance:

    A) The door opened.
    B) The film begins.
    C) The dog bites.

    All of them use the reflexive particle, does Polish do it too?

    Thanks in advance! :)
    A) The door opened. Drzwi otworzyły się. Or more colloquial: Drzwi się otworzyły.
    B) The film begins. Film zaczął się., Or more colloquial: Film się zaczął.
    C) The dog bites. Pies gryzie. It’s not reflexive! No ‘się’!
    In the reflexive verbs there is an object! The object is identic with the subject!
     

    LilianaB

    Banned
    Lithuanian
    Yes, I agree with Ben Jamin. The dog bites does not have a reflexive form in Polish, as opposed to Russian. Pies się gryzie - reflexive, in Polish would mean the dog is biting himself, his tail, for example, or his leg just in an outburst of unexplainable behavior or because of or flees, for example. (its tail if you prefer)
     
    Last edited:

    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    As a compensation the Polish reflexive verb „bić się” means “to fight”, not “to beat oneself”. Interestingly it reminds of French “se battre” (to fight).
     

    涼宮

    Senior Member
    Sbaeneg/Castellano (Venezuela)
    Thank you!

    Ben Jamin, it is true that the subject is the same object in reflexive verbs, but according to what I see, the film doesn't begin itself, it is not alive to carry on such action nor does the door, if that's so, then that is what we call quasi-reflexive. In such sentences, can you take out się and it will have a different nuance?, something like, perhaps, that makes you feel it is an incomplete sentence if you don't put ''się''.
     

    LilianaB

    Banned
    Lithuanian
    Hi, Suzumiya. You cannot skip się in those examples. You would have to indicate then who is performing the action. Mężczyzna otwiera drzwi. With the film, I cannot even think about a sentence without the reflexive particle.
     

    marco_2

    Senior Member
    Polish
    That's right. However I think we should mention a funny construction which is sometimes used by our children: Mamo, on się bije or on się przezywa, which is illogical, nevertheless it exists and resembles the Russian Собака кусается.
     

    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Thank you!

    Ben Jamin, it is true that the subject is the same object in reflexive verbs, but according to what I see, the film doesn't begin itself, it is not alive to carry on such action nor does the door, if that's so, then that is what we call quasi-reflexive. In such sentences, can you take out się and it will have a different nuance?, something like, perhaps, that makes you feel it is an incomplete sentence if you don't put ''się''.
    You should distinguish between the ”physical agent” in an action, and the grammatical subject in a sentence. Inanimate objects (except automats), or abstract nouns can not perform any actions. Here we speak about the grammatical subject: “the sentence begins” (sentence is the subject). You don’t think that sentence is a physical agent. The same with “the door which opens (or “opens up”, as the English say)”. A door can neither open itself (reflexive action) nor open anything else (action on an object). You don’t claim that “door” can’t be the subject of a sentence with a non reflexive action, do you?
     

    kknd

    Senior Member
    polski / Polish
    Good evening!

    I was wondering if this, that works in Russian, works in Polish too since I've noticed that Slavic languages are more related to each other in general than other family languages, such as Germanic and Romance languages.

    In Russian, when a verb doesn't have an object, works in an intransitive way or indicates a permanent state you use the reflexive form.

    For instance:

    A) The door opened.
    B) The film begins.
    C) The dog bites.

    All of them use the reflexive particle, does Polish do it too?

    Thanks in advance! :)
    it seems it has quite intuitive explanation: if you keep in mind that poles unwittingly use animation or even personification you'll understand first example immediately. the second looks quite similar – like simple animated/personificated reflexive, cf. on zaczał sprzątanie (he started cleaning) and sprzątanie zaczęło się (cleaning started [by itself]; but sprzątanie zaczęto, cleaning has been started). in third reflexive is not used because seemingly dog is animated (and doesn't need personification here) so się would imply here plain reflexive (pies ugryzł się, dog bited itself; pies ugryzł, dog bited; in both cases dog caused this).
     

    涼宮

    Senior Member
    Sbaeneg/Castellano (Venezuela)
    Thank you everybody! Now I understood better! Polish pays more attention to animateness vs inanimateness than Russian, so it seems. :D
     

    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    it seems it has quite intuitive explanation: if you keep in mind that poles unwittingly use animation or even personification you'll understand first example immediately. the second looks quite similar – like simple animated/personificated reflexive, cf. on zaczał sprzątanie (he started cleaning) and sprzątanie zaczęło się (cleaning started [by itself]; but sprzątanie zaczęto, cleaning has been started). in third reflexive is not used because seemingly dog is animated (and doesn't need personification here) so się would imply here plain reflexive (pies ugryzł się, dog bited itself; pies ugryzł, dog bited; in both cases dog caused this).
    Sorry, but your explanation is confusing and doesn’t contribute to better understanding of the case. Animateness and inanimateness are irrelevant here, and your “intuitive” explanation is a wrong guess. A person that fights (bije się) is not less animate than the dog that bites. The grammatical reflexive construction is not understood as something actually reflexive by the Polish speakers if the sentence has not the actual reflexive meaning. People use both “on się źle czuje” and “on się myje”, but they understand that the meaning of the first is not reflexive.
    Besides, you introduce the impersonal form “zaczęto”. It has an active, transitive meaning, and there is nothing reflexive about it. The subject is, however, unknown in the sentence.
     
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