Updated: Sep 7, 2020
With reflexive verbs, the subject and the object are the same. This means that the action "reflects back" on the person doing it.
It is used with a reflexive pronoun (sometimes called reflexive particle). This pronoun corresponds to myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, oneself, ourselves, yourselves and themselves in English.
In French, reflexive verbs are often used to describe daily routine: to get up, to get washed, to get dressed as these are actions done to yourself.
Here is a list of the most common reflexive verbs:
Note that the reflexive pronoun for these infinitives changes from se to s' when in front of a verb starting with a vowel.
Most of these verbs can be used without the reflexive pronoun.
When used without the reflexive pronoun, it means that the action is done to someone or something else.
In some instances, the reflexive pronoun changes the meaning completely.
s'entendre to get on
entendre to hear
How to form the present tense of regular reflexive verbs:
To form the present tense of regular reflexive verbs, you first need to know how to conjugate regular verbs in the present tense (click here to review). The conjugation of the verb itself remains the same.
You also need to choose the correct reflexive pronoun for your sentence.
See table below:
Note that the reflexive pronouns change from me to m', from te to t' and from se to s' if the next word starts with a vowel or the letters h or y.
Je me couche à 22 heures. I go to bed at 10pm.
Elle s'entend bien avec sa mère. She gets on well with her mother.
Some of these reflexive regular verbs have spelling irregularities when they are conjugated in the present tense. (Click here to review spelling irregularities.)
Where to put the reflexive pronoun:
In the present tense of the indicative, the reflexive pronoun goes BEFORE the conjugated verb.
This is the case for both affirmative and negative sentences.
Nous nous levons tôt. We get up early
Nous ne nous levons pas tôt. We don't get up early.
For French GCSE students with any exam board: