Italian Reflexive Verbs

Learn how to use reflexive verbs in everyday conversation

Woman sitting on Arno river bank
Sto cercando un posto dove sedermi un attimo. - I’m looking for a spot where I can sit for a while. Emma Innocenti / Getty Images

What is an Italian reflexive verb (verbo riflessivo)?

This can often be a strange topic because, in English, verbs aren't often thought of as being reflexive, however, in Italian, a reflexive verb is one when the action carried out by the subject is performed on the same subject. So for example, “I wash myself” or “I sit myself in the chair”. The subject, “I”, am doing the washing and the sitting.

It’s important to know that not all verbs are reflexive, but there are plenty out there and each must be memorized.

What Does a Reflexive Verb Look Like?

In order to make an Italian verb reflexive, drop the -e of its infinitive ending and add the pronoun si. For example, pettinare (to comb) becomes pettinarsi (to comb oneself) in the reflexive. Si is an additional pronoun, known as the reflexive pronoun, which is needed when conjugating reflexive verbs.

Note that some reflexive verbs can be used without the reflexive pronouns.

In this case, their meaning changes:

- Alzarsi = to wake up/to get up

Tu ti alzi. (You get up.)

Tu alzi la sedia. (You lift the chair.)

How Do You Conjugate Reflexive Verbs?

Here are some tables of verbs in the present tense so you can get an idea of how reflexive verbs are conjugated.

Innamorarsi - To fall in love

Mi innamoro - I fall in loveCi innamoriamo - We fall in love
Ti innamori - You fall in loveVi innamorate - You (all) fall in love
Si innamora - He/she falls in loveSi innamorano - They fall in love

 

Sedersi - To sit oneself/To take a seat

Mi siedo - I sit (myself)Ci sediamo - We sit (ourselves)
Ti siedi - You sit (yourself)Vi sedete - You (all) sit (yourselves)
Si siede - He/she sits (him/herself)Si siedono - They sit (themselves)

 

Divertirsi - To enjoy oneself/to have fun

Mi diverto - I have funCi divertiamo - We have fun
Ti diverti - You have funVi divertite - You (all) have fun
Si diverte - He/she has funSi divertono - They have fun

What About With the Past Tense?

When you conjugate reflexive verbs in the past tense, you must use “essereas your auxiliary verb. Here’s an example using the verb “svegliarsi - to wake up”.

Svegliarsi - To wake up

Mi sono svegliato/a - I woke upCi siamo svegliati/e - We woke up
Ti sei svegliato/a - You woke upVi siete svegliati/e - You all woke up
Si è svegliato/a - He/she woke upSi sono svegliati/e - They woke up

 

Notice how the last letter of “svegliato” changes. That’s because the ending must agree in gender and number with the subject.

A List of Common Reflexive Verbs in Italian

accorgersi (di)

to notice

addormentarsi

to fall asleep

 

to get up

arrabbiarsi

to get angry

chiamarsi

to be named

 

to cover oneself

divertirsi

to have fun, to enjoy oneself

farsi il bagno

to bathe oneself

farsi la doccia

to take a shower

farsi male

to get hurt, hurt oneself

innamorarsi (di)

to fall in love with

lavarsi

to wash oneself

laurearsi

to graduate

mettersi

to put (clothing) on

pettinarsi

to comb one's hair

radersi

to shave

sedersi

to sit down

sentirsi

to feel

 

to undress

sposarsi (con)

to get married

svegliarsi

to wake up

vestirsi

to get dressed

Esempi

  • Le ragazze si sono sedute. - The girls are sitting down.

  • Sto cercando un posto dove sedermi un attimo. - I’m looking for a spot where I can sit for a while.

  • Ci siamo innamorati due anni fa e ci siamo sposati un anno fa. - We fell in love two years and we got married one year ago.

  • Mi sono svegliato/a alle 7. - I woke up at 7.

  • Marco fa sempre molta fatica a svegliarsi la mattina. - Marco always has to struggle to wake up in the morning.

  • Chiara impiega tantissimo tempo a vestirsi! - Chiara takes a very long time to get dressed!

  • Tutti a lavarsi le mani prima di pranzo! - Everybody wash your hands before lunch!

  • Mykonos è un posto ideale per divertirsi. - Mykonos is the perfect destination to have fun.

  • Mio padre mi ha insegnato a radermi. - My dad taught me how to shave.

  • Per avere una bella pella bisogna sempre struccarsi prima di andare a letto. - In order to maintain a good skin you always have to take your makeup off before going to bed.

  • Mi sono laureata un anno fa. - I graduated one year ago.

  • Ho proprio bisogno di farmi un bagno! - I really need to take a hot bath!

  • Copriti bene che fuori fa freddo! - Cover yourself up because it’s cold outside!

  • Non ho capito come ha fatto a farsi male. - I didn’t understand how he managed to hurt himself.