What are reflexive verbs?

Reflexive verbs refer to an action where the subject of a sentence is doing something to itself:
Ich habe mich verletzt.
I have hurt myself.

Marco amüsiert sich.
Marco enjoys himself.

Reflexive verbs are always used with a reflexive pronoun (mich, sich etc.) which reflects the action back to the subject of the sentence.

Two types of reflexive verbs

There are two main types of reflexive verbs in German:
• ‘true’ reflexive verbs such as sich bedanken ‘to say thank you’, sich verabschieden ‘to say goodbye’, which can only be used reflexively; and
• a large group of verbs, which are usually used in a non-reflexive way but can also function reflexively:

Non-reflexive:
Ich wasche das Auto.
I wash the car.

Reflexive:
Ich wasche mich.
I wash myself./I have a wash

Both types of reflexive verbs are usually used with an accusative pronoun (mich etc.) but can also be accompanied by a dative reflexive pronoun (mir etc.).

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