Module 04: L’identité

Troisième Partie: La routine quotidienne, Explication de grammaire

La Grammaire

In this section:

des verbes pronominaux / pronomial verbs

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A pronominal verb is a verb that is accompanied by a reflexive pronoun. Pronominal verbs fall into three major classes based on their meaning: reflexiveidiomatic, and reciprocal. You have probably already seen the pronominal verb s’appeler (Comment t’appelles-tu? What is your name?). To conjugate pronominal verbs in the present tense, you need to pay attention to both the pronoun and the verb form. Listen carefully to the conjugation of the following pronominal verb. The verb is conjugated normally (here an -er verb) with addition of the reflexive pronouns me, te, se, nous, vous, se.

se raser  ‘to shave oneself’
je me rase nous nous rasons
tu te rases vous vous rasez
il/elle/iel/on se rase ils/elles/iels se rasent

reflexive verbs
Pronominal verbs often express reflexive actions, that is, the subject performs the action on itself. If the subject performs the action on someone else, the verb is not reflexive. Here is a list of common reflexive verbs:

s’asseoir, to sit (down)
s’appeler, to be called
s’arrêter, to stop
se brosser, to brush
se coucher, to go to bed
s’habiller, to get dressed
se laver, to wash
se lever, to get up
se promener, to take a walk
se réveiller, to wake up

Compare the difference in meaning between se raser and raser in the following sentences. Note that English does not usually indicate reflexive meaning explicitly since it can be inferred from the context. However, if reflexive meaning is intended in French, then it must be explicitly stated by using a reflexive pronoun.

Est-ce que Tex se rase? Mais non, Tex, c’est un tatou. Il n’a pas de cheveux. Does Tex shave? Why no, Tex is an armadillo. He has no hair.
Qu’est-ce qu’il fait, Tex, avec le rasoir? Il rase Joe-Bob pour l’été. What’s Tex doing with the razor? He’s shaving Joe-Bob for the summer.

To negate pronominal verbs, place the ne before the reflexive pronoun and the pas after the verb. When used with an auxiliary verb such as aimer (to like), the infinitive of a pronominal verb agrees with its subject. When pronominal verbs are used with parts of the body, they take the definite article (le, la, les) rather than the possessive article as in English: Tex se lave les mains. (Tex washes his hands.)

Joe Bob: Edouard, est-ce que tu te rases? Joe Bob: Edouard, do you shave?
Edouard: Non, je ne me rase pas. Edouard: No, I don’t shave.
Les escargots ne se rasent pas. Pourtant, nous nous lavons le visage tous les jours. Snails don’t shave. However we do wash our faces every day.
Joe-Bob: Ah, tu as de la chance. Je déteste me raser.

idiomatic verbs
Some pronominal verbs are idiomatic and do not represent reflexive actions per se. s’amuser (to have fun) and se reposer (to rest) are examples of pronominal verbs with idiomatic meanings. The following list includes common idiomatic pronominal verbs:

s’amuser, to have fun
se dépêcher, to hurry
s’endormir, to fall asleep
s’ennuyer, to be bored
s’entendre, to get along
se fâcher, to get angry
se marier, to get married
se passer, to happen
se reposer, to rest
se sentir, to feel
se souvenir de, to remember
se taire, to be silent
se tromper, to make a mistake
se trouver, to be (situated)

reciprocal verbs

A third category of pronominal verbs expresses a reciprocal action between more than one person, s’aimer or se parler, for example. The English equivalent often uses the phrase ‘each other’ to represent this reciprocal action. Here is a list of common reciprocal verbs:

s’aimer, to love each other
se détester, to hate each other
se disputer, to argue
s’embrasser, to kiss
se parler, to talk to each other
se quitter, to leave each other
se regarder, to look at each other
se retrouver, to meet each other
se téléphoner, to telephone each other

To form the imperative of pronominal verbs, drop the subject pronoun and then attach the reflexive pronoun with a hyphen to the right side of the verb. The reflexive pronoun te becomes toi when used in the imperative. Dépêche-toiHurry up!, Souvenons-nous. Let’s remember., Amusez-vousHave fun!

Tammy décrit ses rapports avec Tex. Tammy describes her relationship with Tex.
Tammy: Nous nous entendons très bien, sauf quand il se fâche. Tammy: Usually we get along very well except when he gets angry.
Il me dit, «Assieds-toi et tais-toi, ma petite.» He tells me “Sit down and shut up, little one!”
Mais nous nous aimons même si nous nous disputons un peu. But we love each other even if we fight a little bit.
Nous allons nous marier un jour. We’re going to get married someday.



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Français inclusif: An Interactive Textbook for French 101 Copyright © 2022 by Department of World Languages, Boise State University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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