The Hairy Wife and German Reflexive Verbs

The Hairy Wife and German Reflexive Verbs German Language Coach

When learning German, you will have come across reflexive verbs. Reflexive verbs also exist in English and can sometimes be translated as ‘myself’, ‘yourself’ etc. For example, He is pouring himself a cup of tea. – Er schenkt sich eine Tasse Tee ein.

What does the term ‘reflexive verb’ actually mean? The verb has an object that refers back to the subject of the verb, hence reflexive.

In German, the reflexive pronoun has an accusative and a dative form. The pattern is the same for the personal pronoun except in the use of ‘sich’ in the 3rd person singular and 3rd person plural. (see the example above).

Most verbs that can be used reflexively can also be used as ordinary transitive verbs. Take this example of a reflexive verb: Er rasiert sich – He shaves (himself). The same verb used transitively: Er rasiert seine Frau – He shaves his wife. (Now, this is no laughing matter, we don’t make assumptions about his wife’s origin!)

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