French Pronominal Voice and Pronominal Verbs

Pronominal verbs are verbs that need a reflexive pronoun in addition to a subject pronoun, because the subject(s) performing the action of the verb are the same as the object(s) being acted upon.

   Nous nous habillons.   We’re getting dressed (dressing ourselves).
   Tu te baignes.   You’re taking a bath (bathing yourself).

The pronominal voice is much more common in French than in English – many French verbs that require the pronominal voice are equivalent to the active voice in English. In French, you can recognize pronominal verbs by the se which precedes the infinitive.

French has three types of pronominal verbs:

  1. reflexive verbs
  2. reciprocal verbs
  3. idiomatic pronominal verbs

There are two steps in conjugating pronominal verbs. First, take the reflexive pronoun se, change it to agree with the subject of the verb, and place it directly in front of the verb. Then, as with all verbs, conjugate the infinitive according to whether it’s an -er, -ir, -re, or irregular verb.

   Elle se brosse les dents.   She’s brushing her teeth.
   Vous vous levez tard.   You get up late.

Full article and more links:

French Pronominal Voice and Pronominal Verbs

By Laura K. Lawless, Guide


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