Reflexive separable verbs

Some reflexive verbs are also separable verbs. Form them in the usual way, eg

  • sich anziehen – to dress
  • sie zieht sich schnell an – she dresses/gets dressed quickly

  • sich ausruhen – to relax, rest
  • wir ruhen uns im Garten aus – We relax in the garden

  • sich hinsetzen – to sit down
  • ich setze mich im Wohnzimmer hin – I sit down in the lounge

Some reflexive verbs change the accusative pronouns mich and dich to the dative pronouns mir and dir.

The other reflexive pronouns don't change. They have an object as well as a pronoun. Why?

Look at this example:

  • du kaufst dir ein Handy – you buy yourself a mobile phone

Question: What are you buying? Answer: A phone.

Question: Who are you buying it for? Answer: For yourself.

Hilfsvokabeln- Helpful vocabulary

  • die Sorge (f) – worry, concern
  • Sorgen machen (+ dative) – to worry
  • sich vorstellen (v) (+ dative) – to imagine
  • der Zahn (m) – tooth

What do the following sentences mean?

  • Ich kämme mir die Haare.
  • Ich wasche mir die Hände.
  • Du machst dir Sorgen.
  • Ich stelle mir die Reise vor.
  • I comb my hair. (literally: I comb the hair to myself)
  • I wash my hands. (literally: I wash the hands to myself)
  • You worry. (literally: You make worries to yourself)
  • I imagine the trip. (literally: I imagine the trip to myself)

How would you say the following in German?

  • I wash my hair. (sich die Haare waschen - to wash hair)
  • You clean your teeth. (sich die Zähne putzen - to brush teeth)
  • Ich wasche mir die Haare.
  • Du putzst dir die Zähne.

Did you know?

The word English verb 'to abseil' comes from the German reflexive separable verb sich abseilen.

It means to let down or away on a rope - der Seil means rope, ab means away, down or off.

So if you are abseiling, you are literally 'roping yourself down' - ich seile mich ab.

Young woman abseiling from a steep rock, just in front of the sun
'Abseil' has been borrowed into English from the German language