Reflexive verbs + prepositions


A number of reflexive verbs are normally used together with a preposition, such as sich erinnern + an or sich interessieren + für:

Sie erinnert sich an ihren ersten Freund.
She remembers her first boyfriend.

Interessiert ihr euch für Fußball?
Are you interested in football?

Other examples include: sich ärgern über ‘to be annoyed about’, sich aufregen über ‘to be upset, angry about’, sich beschweren über/bei ‘to complain about/to’, sich freuen auf ‘to look forward to’, sich freuen über ‘to be happy about/with’

Structures with accusative and dative objects

In structures where the reflexive verb occurs with an accusative and dative object, the reflexive pronoun is usually in the dative:

Ich habe mir (dat.) den Rücken (acc.) verletzt.
I’ve hurt my back.

Ich ziehe mir (dat.) den Mantel (acc.) an.
I put on my coat.

Wasch dir (dat.) bitte die Hände! (acc.)
Wash your hands, please!

Wir haben uns (dat.) die Zähne (acc.) geputzt.
We (have) cleaned our teeth.

As shown in these examples, in English these structures usually use a possessive adjective (‘my’, ‘your’ etc.) instead of a reflexive pronoun.

Position of the reflexive pronoun

If the subject is a noun, the reflexive pronoun usually appears after the finite verb:
Seine kleine Schwester interessiert sich für Rapmusik.
His younger sister is interested in rap music.

In a subordinate clause the reflexive pronoun usually comes before the subject:
Es ist klar, dass sich Claudia entschuldigen muss.
It is clear that Claudia has to apologise.

If the subject is a personal pronoun the reflexive pronoun often appears after the subject:

Gestern hat sie sich von dem Schrecken erholt.
She recovered from the shock yesterday.

However, if the sentence starts with a pronoun as the subject the reflexive pronoun is placed after the finite verb:

Er sollte sich mal rasieren.
He should have a shave.

In the imperative

The reflexive pronoun usually appears after the personal pronoun:

Bedanken wir uns!
Let’s say thank you!

Stellen Sie sich das vor!
Imagine that!

With the du and ihr imperative forms the reflexive pronoun appears after the finite verb:

Zieh dir die Jacke an!
Put on your jacket!

Benehmt euch!
Behave yourselves!