I verbi riflessivi e reciproci

Reflexive and reciprocal verbs

Many verbs are reflexive in Italian, that is, they describe an action that you do to yourself, such as to wash your hands [lavarsi le mani] or to wake (yourself) up [svegliarsi].  Italian verbs tend to use the reflexive form more often than English verbs, so many verbs that are reflexive in Italian are not reflexive in English, such as lamentarsi [to complain] and arrabbiarsi [to get angry].  Reflexive verbs in the present tense are conjugated exactly like all verbs in -are,-ere,ire, with the addition of a reflexive pronoun.

Present tense

arrabbiarsi [to get angry] perdersi [to get lost] divertirsi [to have fun]
[io] mi arrabbio [io] mi perdo [io] mi diverto
[tu] ti arrabbi [tu] ti perdi [tu] ti diverti
[lui, lei, Lei] si arrabbia [lui, lei, Lei] si perde [lui, lei, Lei] si diverte
[noi] ci arrabbiamo [noi] ci perdiamo [noi] ci divertiamo
[voi] vi arrabbiate [voi] vi perdete [voi] vi divertite
[loro] si arrabbiano [loro] si perdono [loro] si divertono

Notice that the adverb/pronoun ci meaning there (as you have just learned) looks identical to the above pronoun ci meaning us/to us/ourselves.

Passato prossimo
In the passato prossimo, all reflexive verbs take essere as the auxiliary. Like all verbs that take essere in the passato prossimo, a singular female subject will say mi sono persa a Venezia,  a masculine plural subject will say ci siamo persi a Venezia, etc.

arrabbiarsi perdersi divertirsi
[io] mi sono arrabbiato/a [io] mi sono perso/a [io] mi sono divertito/a
[tu] ti sei arrabbiato/a [tu] ti sei perso/a [tu] ti sei divertito/a
[lui] si è arrabbiato [lui] si è perso [lui] si è divertito
[lei] si è arrabbiata [lei] si è persa [lei] si è divertita
[noi] ci siamo arrabbiati/e [noi] ci siamo persi/e [noi] ci siamo divertiti/e
[voi] vi siete arrabbiati/e [voi] vi siete persi/e [voi] vi siete divertiti/e
[loro] si sono arrabbiati/e [loro] si sono persi/e [loro] si sono divertiti/e


Reciprocal verbs describe an action that two or more people do to or with each other, and they take the same form as reflexive verbs. Reciprocal verbs are always conjugated in the plural forms of the verb, because they always involve two or more people. Consider the conjugation of verb abbracciarsi [to hug each other] in the present tense and in the passato prossimo:

present tense passato prossimo
[noi] ci abbracciamo [noi] ci siamo abbracciati
[voi] vi abbracciate [voi] vi siete abbracciati
[loro] si abbracciano [loro] si sono abbracciati


A list of the most common reflexive and reciprocal verbs:

accorgersi / rendersi conto di to realize abbracciarsi  to hug each other
to fall asleep
amarsi to love each other (romantically)
allenarsi to practice (a sport); to train for  aiutarsi to help each other
alzarsi to get up baciarsi to kiss each other
annoiarsi to get/be bored conoscersi to know each other; to meet for the first time
ammalarsi to get sick; to fall ill incontrarsi to meet 
arrabbiarsi to get angry innamorarsi to fall in love with each other
chiamarsi to be called lasciarsi to break up (to leave each other)
comportarsi to behave odiarsi to hate each other
dimenticarsi di to forget to parlarsi to talk to each other
divertirsi to have fun salutarsi to greet each other
farsi to make, to do for oneself scriversi to write to each other
fermarsi to stop sposarsi to marry each other; to get married
lamentarsi to complain telefonarsi to call each other
lavarsi to wash oneself vedersi to see each other
mettersi to put on volersi bene to love each other (not romantically)
perdersi to get lost
preoccuparsi to worry
prepararsi to get ready
ricordarsi di to remember to
rilassarsi to relax
riposarsi to rest
sedersi to sit
sentirsi to feel
svegliarsi to wake up
trovarsi to find oneself
vergognarsi to be ashamed
vestirsi to get dressed


Notice that many reflexive and reciprocal verbs also have non-reflexive and non-reciprocal forms, which you already know and have used before.  Compare:


Ho perso le chiavi.
I lost my keys.


Mi sono perso a Venezia.
I got lost in Venice.


Aiuto la mamma in cucina.
I help my Mom in the kitchen.


Io e la mamma ci aiutiamo in cucina.
My Mom and I help each other in the kitchen.


Telefoni spesso a Carlo?
Do you call Carlo often?


Tu e Carlo vi telefonate spesso?
Do you and Carlo call each other often?


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Spunti: Italiano elementare 2 Copyright © 2018 by Daniel Leisawitz and Daniela Viale is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book