Portuguese Reflexive Verbs

portuguese-reflexive-verbs

Wikipedia defines reflexive verbs like this:

A reflexive verb is, loosely, a verb whose direct object is the same as its subject, for example, "I wash myself". More generally, a reflexive verb has the same semantic agent and patient (typically represented syntactically by the subject and the direct object). For example, the English verb to perjure is reflexive, since one can only perjure oneself.

In more understandable terms (!):
Whenever the subject is receiving and doing the action at the same time, it's a reflexive verb.

But that's still a linguist's perspective and not really helpful to most of us that want to start using these right now. I've tried to come up with simple things that trigger the reflexive, but I now think it's actually better to just memorize some of the most popular ones and develop a feel for it. It's not all that complicated! It really is just a matter of recognizing that you need to include a myself or a yourself, ourselves, themselves etc. when you say for example, "I injured myself". It would be pretty silly to say, "I injured." Other exmaples are not as crystal clear:

sentar-se > I sat (myself) down. > Eu me sentei.
levantar-se > I got (myself) up. > Eu me levantei.
vestir-se > Are you going to get (yourself) dressed? > Você vai se vestir?
arrepender-se > He (himself) regreted everything. > Ele se arrependeu tudo.
And, you need to know these too:
divertir-se > We enjoyed ourselves. > Nós nos divertimos.
chamar-se > I call myself David. > Eu me chamo David.

*though we really don't say it like that in english!

sentir-se > She feels fine. > Ela se sente bem.

This one, you don't need to know, though it can be fun to use:
ferrar-se. > offensive > see link.

When is it reflexive?

When you can sense that the sentence needs a myself, yourself, himself, herself, ourselves, themselves etc. But I think it's better to simply memorize (flashcards!) the ones in this post and start using them You will naturally develop a feel for when to use the reflexive. This will happen naturally, without having to stop and think about it.

Can any verb be reflexive?

Why not!
The ones above are almost always used reflexively -- so, please learn them first. But know that pretty much any verb can be used reflexively. Let's do it:

falar > Eu me falei > I told my self.

ensinar > Você se ensinou? > Did you teach yourself?

tocar > Para de se tocar! > Stop touching yourself!

But I can't think of any way to use for example chover, morar, dançar (dancing with myself?), chegar, ir, trabalhar...

Show me all the reflexive pronouns.

Want to see all the possibilities? Let's do one verb.

Reflexive Pronouns: levantar-se

Personal Pronoun Reflexive Pronoun Example
Eu me Eu me levantei. (I got myself up)
Tu te Tu te levantaste. (You got yourself up)
Você se Você se levantou. (You got yourself up)
Ele se Ele se levantou. (He got himself up)
Ela se Ela se levantou. (She got herself up)
A gente se A gente se levantou. (We got ourselves up)
Nós nos Nós nos levantamos. (We got ourselves up)
Vocês se Vocês se levantaram. (You got yourselves up)
Eles se Eles se levantaram. (They got themselves up)
Elas se Elas se levantaram. (They got themselves up)

 

From the video learning course, INTENSIVO.