How to Use 2 Types of German Reflexive Verbs in Sentences

How to Use 2 Types of German Reflexive Verbs in Sentences

Want to describe your daily routine in German? Or have you wondered how to tell your friend in German about the first thing that you did in the morning? The key to answering these questions is German reflexive verbs!

Talking about most of your daily routine activities involves the use of German reflexive verbs. Be it brushing your teeth or taking a shower or even shaving! Mastering these verbs is important to build your vocabulary.
Now you must be thinking, what exactly are reflexive verbs and how are they different from other verbs? Without further ado, let’s begin with the lesson.

What are German Reflexive Verbs

Reflexive verbs are those verbs which take a reflexive pronoun. The infinitive forms of these verbs are preceded by the pronoun “sich”. For example, sich duschen (to take a shower).

Reflexive pronouns refer back to the subject of the sentence. This means, you are doing an action for yourself and not for anyone else. In English, the usage of “oneself” implies that the verbs are reflexive. The German pronoun “sich” is equivalent to English “oneself”.

Reflexive verbs are conjugated just like normal German verbs, and the corresponding reflexive pronoun is placed after the conjugated verb. For example, Ich dusche mich. (I am taking a shower.)

The reflexive pronouns that are used with the reflexive verbs can either take the accusative case or the dative case. Now, let’s study these 2 types in detail.

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German Reflexive Verbs in the Accusative

When the subject and object of a sentence are the same, reflexive pronouns are in the accusative case. They are as follows:-

Personal pronounReflexive pronoun
ichmich
dudich
er / sie / essich
wiruns
ihreuch
sie / Siesich
  • Du verletzt dich. (You hurt yourself.)
  • Ich fühle mich heute krank. (I am feeling sick today.)
  • Mein Bruder rasiert sich jeden zweiten Tag. (My brother shaves every other day.)

Podcast

Listen to this audio to learn the correct pronunciations.

German Reflexive Verbs in the Dative

When there is another direct accusative object in the sentence, reflexive pronouns are in the dative case. They are as follows:-

Personal pronounReflexive pronoun
ichmir
dudir
er / sie / essich
wiruns
ihreuch
sie / Siesich
  • Ich ziehe mir ein Hemd an. (I put on a shirt.)
  • Er wäscht sich die Hände. (He washes his hands.)
  • Hast du dir die Haare gekämmt? (Did you comb your hair?)

Podcast

Listen to this audio to learn the correct pronunciations.

As you must have observed above, only the 1st and 2nd person singular (ich and du) forms of dative reflexive pronouns differ from the accusative reflexive pronouns. The rest of the pronouns are same in both the cases.

German Reflexive Verbs-Grammar-All About Deutsch

Important Points to Remember

Some verbs are always reflexive. That means, they are always used with a reflexive pronoun.

Examples – sich bedanken (to thank), sich beeilen (to hurry), sich befinden (to be located), sich erkälten (to catch a cold), sich erholen (to relax / rest), sich verspäten (to be late) etc.

Other verbs are only reflexive when the subject and object of a sentence are the same. Otherwise, they are not reflexive and an object pronoun is used.

  • Ich schneide mir die Nägel. (I cut my nails.) – Reflexive
  • Ich schneide ihr die Nägel. (I cut her nails.) – Not reflexive

Read the above sentences again carefully. When body parts or items of clothing are mentioned in a sentence, then they use the definite article and not the possessive article (die Nägel).

Some verbs have a completely different meaning when used as a reflexive verb. For instance, sich ausziehen means to undress oneself. But, ausziehen means to move out.

A List of German Reflexive Verbs with Prepositions

Here’s a list of some commonly used German reflexive verbs, which always take specific prepositions:-

GermanEnglish
sich ärgern über + Akk.to get annoyed about
sich beschweren über + Akk.to complain about
sich bewerben um + Akk.to apply for
sich erinnern an + Akk.to remember
sich entscheiden für + Akk.to decide on
sich freuen auf + Akk.to look forward to
sich freuen über + Akk.to be glad about
sich fürchten vor + Dat.to be afraid of
sich interessieren für + Akk.to be interested in
sich kümmern um + Akk.to take care of / look after
sich konzentrieren auf + Akk.to focus / concentrate on
sich treffen mit + Dat.to meet / catch up with
sich trennen von + Dat.to part / break up with
sich verabschieden von + Dat.to bid farewell / goodbye to
sich vorbereiten auf + Akk.to prepare for
sich verlieben in + Akk.to fall in love with

German Grammar Quiz

Take the following quiz to test your knowledge of German Reflexive Verbs.

0%

______ du ______ kurz vorstellen?

Correct! Wrong!

Jeden Morgen ______ wir ______ die Zähne.

Correct! Wrong!

Ich ______ ______ den Pullover aus.

Correct! Wrong!

Maria und Petra können ______ nicht an seinen Geburtstag ______.

Correct! Wrong!

Ihr habt ______ um ein Stipendium ______.

Correct! Wrong!

Ich bin schon zu spät. Ich muss ______ ______.

Correct! Wrong!

Sie ______ ______ auf die mündliche Prüfung vor.

Correct! Wrong!

Peter ______ ______ für die Musik.

Correct! Wrong!

Die Sommerferien beginnen morgen. Wir ______ ______ auf deinen Besuch.

Correct! Wrong!

Du ______ ______ ein Selbsthilfebuch.

Correct! Wrong!

German Reflexive Verbs
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If you enjoyed learning this lesson, also check out the topic German case system on your favorite blog “All About Deutsch”.

Want to learn more about German reflexive verbs? Take a look at this article on University of Michigan website.

PS – On this blog, you will find grammar lessons just like this one, vocabulary lists divided subject-wise as well as articles related to countries like Germany, Austria and Switzerland and a lot more. Keep scrolling, keep learning!

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