Reflexive Pronouns in Italian

What are reflexive pronouns?

Reflexive pronouns are those pronouns that are used in conjunction with verbs known as reflexive verbs. They are used exclusively when conjugating these verbs.

Reflexive Pronoun
Iomi
Tuti
Lui, Leisi
Noici
Voivi
Lorosi
Reflexive Pronouns in Italian

What is a reflexive verb?

A reflexive verb is an Italian verb that includes a built-in ‘si’ in its infinitive form. For example:

  • sentirsi → to feel
  • svegliarsi  → to wake up
  • divertirsi  → to have a good time

When conjugating a reflexive verb, in addition to conjugating the verb, we should add the appropriate reflexive pronouns for the subject. For example:

io mi sveglioI wake up
tu ti svegliyou wake up
lui, lei si svegliahe, she wakes up
noi ci svegliamowe wake up
voi vi svegliateyou wake up (plural)
loro si sveglianothey wake up
conjugation of the verb ‘svegliarsi’ – present tense

Some books translate reflexive pronouns as ‘myself’, ‘yourself’, ‘himself’, etc. This translation is correct, but it can also cause confusion because these pronouns are not used in the same way in English. For instance:

  • Mi sveglio translates to ‘I wake up’ in English, not ‘I wake myself up’.

In my classes, I often get the question, “How do I know whether a verb is reflexive or not?” Well, you can find out from the dictionary. Reflexive verbs are a distinct category. They include ‘si’ in their base form as listed in the dictionary. Therefore, you should not wonder whether you can make a verb reflexive or not; the verb inherently exists in that form.

What’s the position of reflexive pronouns?

Reflexive pronouns are used when conjugating a reflexive verb. The position of reflexive pronouns tends to be before the conjugated verb. For example:

  • Mi alzo (I get up)
  • Ci divertiamo (we have fun)
  • Si arrabbiamo (they get)

However, there are three exceptions:

Modal verbs:

If a reflexive verb is preceded by a modal verb, you have the option to place the pronoun before the modal verb or attach it to the infinitive. For example:

  • Devo svegliarmi alle 7 – Mi devo svegliare alle 7

Infinitive verbs:

If the reflexive pronoun accompanies an infinitive verb that isn’t being conjugated, the reflexive pronoun is placed at the end. For example:

  • Ho deciso di svegliarmi alle dieci

Imperative forms:

In certain forms of the imperative, the reflexive pronoun is placed at the end. For example:

Svegliati! (Wake up)

Non lamentarti (Don’t complain!)

It goes without saying that even when you’re attaching the pronoun to the end of the verb, it must be modified depending on the subject it refers to. For example:

Most common Italian reflexive verbs 

svegliarsito wake up
alzarsito get up
lavarsito wash oneself
vestirsito get dressed
sedersito sit down
sentirsito feel
divertirsito enjoy oneself
addormentarsito fall asleep
arrabbiarsito get angry
chiamarsito be called
annoiarsito get bored
pentirsito regret
lamentarsito complain
fidarsito trust
riposarsito rest
spogliarsito undress
innamorarsito fall in love
interessarsito be interested
concentrarsito concentrate
dimenticarsito forget
prepararsito get ready
preoccuparsito worry
vergognarsito be ashamed
sbagliarsito be mistaken
common reflexive verbs in Italian

Serena Capilli

I’m the creative force behind both this blog and my collection of short stories in simple Italian for language learners, available on Amazon.

Join my 6200+ people learning italian list ♥

Ciao, I’m Serena! I’m the creative force behind both this blog and my collection of short stories in simple Italian for language learners, available on Amazon.

What people read the most in this category