Italian Lessons

Topics

Getting personal with the reflexive

This is the continuation of the lesson about the basics of reflexive verbs.

With a true reflexive verb, you need the reflexive to make yourself understood properly, but when it's not a direct reflexive, you can also leave it out (usually) and still get your meaning across. Check out the rules for this in the above-mentioned lesson.

Let's say I want to watch a movie on TV tonight. It would be common to say:

Mi guarderò un bel film stasera (I'm going to watch a nice movie tonight). It's not directly reflexive, because we have "the film" as a direct object (it's not even a body part!) but the sentence is constructed the same way as a reflexive one, and has that personal feel to it (it's all about me!).

 

banner PLACEHOLDER

If it were truly reflexive, I would be looking at myself in the mirror instead of the movie: guardarsi  (to look at oneself)

Mi guardo allo specchio (I look at myself in the mirror). 

 

I could also just as well say (and it would be correct):

Guarderò un bel film stasera. (I'm going to watch a nice movie tonight).

 

Without the added pronoun, the sentence is more neutral, less personal, and there's less emphasis on it being about me. But it's perfectly fine. And whether a verb is directly or indirectly reflexive is not going to change our lives a whole lot. It's just something you might wonder about. The important thing is to know how to use reflexive verbs and to get used to hearing (and understanding) them.

 

Here are a few more everyday examples that we think of as being reflexive, but which also contain a direct object. What's important to note is that in English, we use a possessive pronoun (I wash my hands) after a transitive verb. Italian uses a reflexive pronoun to indicate the person, but it goes together with the verb, not the noun.  The following examples are typical, and so it would be wise to practice them in different conjugations.

Vado a lavarmi i denti  (I'm going to brush my teeth).

 

Here we have the conjugated verb andare before lavare (with the preposition a [to]), so lavare is in the infinitive with the appropriate reflexive pronoun (mi [to me]) attached to it.

 

Ci laviamo le mani prima di mangiare (We wash our hands before eating).

 

Here we used ci as the reflexive pronoun. Let's not forget that ci has a lot of uses, which you can read about in other lessons

 

Mi metto una maglia, fa freschino (I'll put a sweater on. It's chilly).

 

Mettere is an interesting verb (with an interesting reflexive version). Check out what Marika has to say about it. 

Mettere vuol dire collocare, posizionare un oggetto in un posto specifico.

"To put" means "to situate," "to position" an object in a specific place.

Captions 7-8, Marika spiega Il Verbo Mettere - Part 1

 Play Caption

 

Here is a partial list of some other useful, everyday reflexive verbs: 

addormentarsi (to fall asleep)

innamorarsi (to fall in love)

ammalarsi (to fall ill)

muoversi (to move)

spostarsi (to shift, to move)

 

These verbs are intransitive in English, they don't have anything to do with specific body parts, and they aren't used in a reflexive way in English. So they may be tricky to immediately grasp.

 

See if this process can help you:

Let's take the example of spostarsi.

Does the verb have a non-reflexive form? Let's see: spostare. I look it up. spostare.

Hint: A dictionary will usually give you the reflexive form of the verb, too, if it exists. Just keep looking down the list of definitions or translations. 

OK, so spostare exists in a non-reflexive (transitive) form. 

La sposto subito.

I'll move it right away.

Caption 46, Sei mai stata sulla luna? film - Part 3

 Play Caption

 

The reflexive form means, "I move myself." In English we just say "I move." We just need to remember that we need the reflexive in Italian to say that. But if I visualize it, I can see myself moving myself over a bit, so someone can fit into a space, for instance. 

 

Aside: The person ready to move his car in the previous example could have used the reflexive, especially if he had been in the car at the time. He could have said, Mi sposto subito (I'll move (out of the way) right away).

I can also look up the verb spostarsi on the Yabla videos page:

Basta semplicemente spostarsi di qualche metro.

All one has to do is simply move a few meters.

Caption 57, Meraviglie EP. 6 - Part 12

 Play Caption

 

The cool thing about the search window is that you can use whatever conjugation you want. You may or may not get a hit, but a pop-down menu will give you suggestions as to what's available. Sometimes it's handy to begin with the infinitive, then some conjugations. Most of these hits are real-life usages that help give you an idea of how a verb is used.  

 

So my next move is to conjugate the reflexive verb. Creating a sentence that makes sense might be more fun than a simple conjugation. Go ahead and consult the conjugation chart supplied with verbs in WordReference: spostarsi

Mi sposto (I'll move over).

Ti puoi spostare (Could you move over)?

Lui non si sposta (he won't move over)!

 

Looking up sposto also reveals the "remote" past tense of spostarespostò (the third person singular passato remoto):

Eh, tant'è vero che poi, pensa Marika, che il centro politico della città si spostò dai Fori Romani ai Fori Imperiali.

Yeah, so much so, that then, just think, Marika, the political center of the city moved from the Roman Forums to the Imperial Forums.

Captions 38-39, Marika e Daniela Il Foro Romano

 Play Caption

Learning suggestion:

Try to put your daily routine into words, using the dictionary (and the afore-mentioned online resources) if necessary. Maybe your routine goes something like this:

 

Ti svegli alle 6 di mattina ma ti addormenti di nuovo e quindi ti alzi alle sei e mezza. Ti fai un buon caffè e poi ti fai la docciati lavi i denti, e ti vesti. Se fa freddo ti metti una giacca prima di uscire.* Nascondi la chiave sotto lo zerbino. 

You wake up at 6 in the morning, but you fall asleep again so you get up at 6:30. You make yourself a nice cup of coffee and then you take a showeryou brush your teeth and you get dressed. If it’s cold, you put on a jacket before going out. You hide the key under the doormat. 

 

Try using different conjugations to practice them.

*More about what to wear in Marika spiega: L'abbigliamento - Part 1 of 2.

In this lesson, we used simple tenses. When we use the passato prossimo (constructed like the present perfect), we need more information, such as the fact that we need to use essere rather than avere! But we'll save this for another lesson. 

banner PLACEHOLDER

5 Different Ways to Use the Word Accordo (Agreement)

 

Accordo is such a handy Italian word but the meaning can change considerably depending on the verb used with it. Let's look at 5 different ways we use accordo (agreement) in everyday life.

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

1) If we take the noun un accordo by itself, it means "an agreement."

Abbiamo firmato un accordo (we signed an agreement).

 

Io so che Lei aveva un accordo per utilizzare il latte della sua azienda, è così?

I know that you had an agreement for using the milk from her company, is that right?

Caption 42, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP6 - Sotto tiro

 Play Caption

 

2) If we put the preposition di (of) before it, it means “in agreement”. If we are "in agreement" — or as we usually say in English, “we agree” — we need 3 words to make one. We use the verb essere (to be) + the preposition di (of) + the noun accordo (agreement) to obtain the verb "to agree": essere in accordo. We need to conjugate the verb essere (to be).

 

Non metto in dubbio le tue idee, ma non sono d'accordo.

I don’t doubt your ideas are good, but I don’t agree.

Caption 35, Marika spiega - Il Verbo Mettere

 Play Caption

 

Non sei d'accordo?

Don't you agree? (Don't you think so?)

Caption 30, Provaci Ancora Prof! - S1E1 - Il regalo di Babbo Natale

 Play Caption

 

Allora se la dottoressa è d'accordo, io consiglierei un sopralluogo al museo.

So if the doctor agrees, I'd advise an inspection of the museum.

Caption 55, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP5 - Il Raggio Verde

 Play Caption

 

Essere d'accordo can also mean "to be in cahoots." The context will reveal this nuance.

 

Quindi secondo te erano d'accordo per cercare di incastrarlo e poi ricattarlo?

So, in your opinion they were in cahoots to try to frame him and then blackmail him?

Caption 16, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP4 - Miss Maremma

 Play Caption

 

3) We also use accordo to say “to get along”: andare d’accordo. Here, we use the verb andare plus the preposition di + the noun accordo

Non va d'accordo con suo fratello (She doesn't get along with her brother).

 

Senti un po', ma io e te una volta andavamo d'accordo, giusto?

Listen up, but you and I got along at one time, right?

Caption 11, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto

 Play Caption

 

Il signor Spada e la moglie danese pare che non andassero per niente d'accordo.

Mister Spada and his Danish wife, it seems, weren't getting along at all.

Caption 20, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP11 - Beato tra le donne

 Play Caption

 

4) Another way to say “I agree” in English is “OK” or “all right.” We can certainly use “OK” or va bene to say this in Italian, but another common way is d’accordo. It’s a little more serious than just OK, which can also be filler, just something we say. So there is no verb here. We simply use the preposition di + the noun accordo. People who know French will recognise this way of saying "OK." "D’accord."

Ci vediamo domattina in ufficio, d’accordo?  (I’ll see you at the office tomorrow morning, OK?)
D’accordo (OK).

 

5) In an informal situation, primarily, in which we need or want to put off actually agreeing to something, there's another useful phrase with accordo. Let's say we need to decide on a time and place to meet, or make a friendly transaction. We can use the verb mettere (to put) in its reciprocal form mettersi (the reciprocal form works much the same as the reflexive form). For more on this read this lesson and.

 

E poi ci mettiamo d'accordo. La, la chiamo io.

We'll set it up later. I'll call you.

Caption 20, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP9 - Morte in paradiso

 Play Caption

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

This expression mettersi d'accordo is useful among friends who want to get together, but can't (or don't want to) set a date right then and there. To say something like "We'll get together at some point," we could say, Poi, ci mettiamo d'accordo (we'll decide [together] later). It's a friendly expression to say that you want to see this person, but can't decide on anything right then and there.

So we have:

un accordo: an agreement
essere d’accordo: to agree or to be in cahoots
andare d’accordo: to get along
d'accordo: OK! All right
mettersi d’accordo: to come to an agreement—to decide on something together

 

We think this might have been helpful. Sei d'accordo?

Vocabulary

You May Also Like