Reflexive pronoun – pronom réfléchi
Let's Define It!
What's a *reflexive pronoun*?
Reflexive pronouns belong to the broader category of pronominal verbs. In French, they are called pronoms réfléchis.
A reflexive verb refers back to the subject of the verb in a sentence.
For example, in "Je me lave" the pronoun me is the pronoun that refers back to the subject je.
In other words, by using a reflexive verb, we simply mean that the subject of the verb is doing an action directed at the subject himself/herself. The subject and the object are both the same unless a different object is mentioned.
- Elle se lève [She gets up].
- Elle se brosse les dents [She brushes her teeth]. In the latter example, although a pronominal verb is used, the the subject and object are not really the same. She is the subject [Elle] and les dents [teeth] is the object placed after the verb se brosse. This last detail is very important when you deal with the passé composé.
Here is the list of all pronouns used in a reflexive verb: me, te, se, nous, vous, se.
N.B. me, te and se change into m', t' and s' when they are followed by a vowel or silent h.
Je m'habille. / I am getting dressed.
The pronouns in reflexive pronouns agree in gender and number with their subjects. je me lève (I get up), tu te lèves (you get up), nous nous levons (we get up).
Let's Pronounce It!
What does it sound like in French?
Let's Have an Example or Two!
Can a little reinforcement do the trick?
Here is a French reflexive verb conjugated in all the persons. The reflexive pronouns are underlined for your convenience.
je me douche
tu te douches
il se douche
nous nous douchons
vous vous douchez
ils se douchent