Speaking reflexively (Or: Dutch B2 course #27

Vacation is over and it’s back to the studying grind. (Well, I did my homework over vacation, so there was some studying involved.)

Yesterday’s lesson we had a refresher course (or een herhaling) for reflexive verbs and how they are conjugated. Things like I shave myself or Don’t kid yourself – the subject of the sense is the same as the object of the sentence. Of course, English tends leave off the reflexive part for someone words. Consider I bathe versus I bathe myself. The first is more likely.

There are not many reflexive pronouns in Dutch. Only me, je (u)zich, and ons. Take the verb scheren (to shave):

ik scheer me
jij scheert je
u scheert zich / u
hij / zij scheert zich
wij scheren ons
jullie scheren je
zij scheren zich

Unfortunately there is no rule to determine which verbs are reflexive – it is just something dat je uit je hoofd moet leren (that you have to learn out of your head / memorize).

There are three rules regarding the placement of a reflexive pronoun:

In the main clause after the conjugated verb
– Ik douche me elke morgen.
– Hij verbaast zich regelmatig over Nederlanders.

In cases of inversion, after the subject
– Gisteren meldde hij zich ziek.
– Regelmatie verbaast hij zich over Nederlands.

In a subordinate clause after the subject
– Hij zegt dat hij zich bij die belissing heeft neergelegd.
– Ik denk dat hij zich regelmatie over Nederlanders verbaast.

And finally, a fun example of how crazy things can get when you add in reflexive pronouns:

Herinner je je je oma?

je = subject, then je = reflexive pronoun, finally je = your

Do you remember your grandmother? Though you can ask that question without using a reflexive verb as well.


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