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Verbes pronominaux (pronominal verbs)

February 26, 2013

A pronominal verb is a verb that is accompanied by a reflexive pronoun. In French, in the infinitive form, they can easily be recognized as they are always preceded by “se“.

You are already familiar with one of those verbs :

  • s’appeler (je m’appelle etc.) : to call oneself → to be named

Se raser (to shave oneself)

S’habiller (to get dressed)

Je me rase

Je m’habille

Tu te rases

Tu t’habilles

Il/elle/on se rase

Il/elle/on s’habille

Nous nous rasons

Nous nous habillons

Vous vous rasez

Vous vous habillez

Ils/elles se rasent

Ils/elles s’habillent

Note that “me“, “te“, “se“, in front of word starting with a vowel or a silent “h”, become “m’“, “t’“, “s’“.

 Pronominal verbs are divided into 3 categories :

1) Reflexive verbs

 → The subject perform the action on himself/herself, as the words “himself/herself” (अपने आप को) express it.

Here are some common reflexive verbs :

  • s’asseoirto sit (down)
  • s’habillerto get dressed
  • se laver / se laver les mains : to wash / to wash one’s hands
  • se brosser les dents : to brush one’s teeth
  • se réveiller : to wake up
  • se lever : to get up
  • se coucher : to lie down / to go to bed
  • se promener : to take a walk (घूमना)
  • s’arrêter : to stop

2) Reciprocal verbs

They express a reciprocal action performed between two persons or more. The reflexive pronoun can then often be translated be “each other” (एक दूसरे को).

Here are some common reciprocal verbs :

  • s’aimer : to love each other
  • se détetester : to hate each other
  • se disputer : to argue with each other
  • s’embrasser : to kiss each other
  • se retrouver : to meet

3) Idiomatic verbs

 → Those verbs take a reflexive pronoun but do not express a reflexive or a reciprocal action.

Here are some common idiomatic verbs :

  • s’amuserto have fun
  • se dépêcher : to hurry
  • s’ennuyer : to be bored
  • se marier : to get married
  • se trouver : to be situated

Order of the words :

Like with other pronouns, words order is as following :

  • In a simple negative sentence : Je ne m’amuse pas du tout.
  • With the passé composé : Je me suis amusé. Je ne me suis pas amusé.
  • When there is a conjugated verb + an infinitive verb : Je vais m’amuser. Je ne vais pas m’amuser.
The imperative form :

Like with object pronouns (see posts : “Les pronoms compléments directs“, “Les pronoms compléments indirects“) : 

  1. The pronoun is placed after the imperative verb and a hyphen separates the verb and the pronoun : Nous nous amusons → Amusons-nous !
  2. Te” is replaced by the disjunctive pronoun “toi” : Tu t’amuses → Amuse-toi !
  3. With the negative imperative no specific changes take place : Tu ne t’amuses pas → Ne t’amuse pas !
The “passé composé” :

In the “passé composé” all pronominal verbs are conjugated with the AUXILIARY “ÊTRE” :

  • Je me suis beaucoup amusé ! (I had lot of fun !)
  • Elle s’est levée à 8 heures ce matin. (She got up at 8 this morning.)


Note that all those verbs have also transitive equivalents (the verb takes an object which differs from the subject) :
  • Elle réveille son fils à 8 heures : She wakes up her son at 8.
  • Il promène son chien : वह अपने कुत्ते को घुमाता है।


Pour + d’information :




  1. Listen to the dialogue.
  2. Match each personal pronoun with the corresponding verb.
  3. Idem.
  4. Idem.
  5. Idem.
  6. Drag the correct verb to fill up the sentences.
  7. Fill up the imperative sentence with the correct pronoun.
  8. Memory Game.
  9. Listen and say if it is a pronominal verb or not.
  10. Click on the right answer.
  11. Fill up the blanks with the correct reflexive pronoun.
  12. Conjugate the verb in brackets.
  13. Idem.
  14. Idem.
  15. Idem.

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