False reflexives – Riflessivi impropri I: Italian grammar lesson 153

To master this grammar topic, take Lesson 153 of the audio course Ripeti Con Me!
myself oneself italian
I want to learn:

In the previous lesson, we learned about reflexive verbs, which are verbs that reflect their action back onto the subject who is performing it (Mi lavo –I wash myself, mi vesto – I dress myself, etc.).

Sometimes, though, we encounter what we can call riflessivi impropri, which are basically false reflexives.

These are verbs that look like reflexives (they use mi, ti, si, ci, vi), but are not! There are 3 types of riflessivi impropri:

In this lesson, we’ll look at the first ones, la forma riflessiva apparente (apparent reflexives).

reflexives Italian

Riflessivi apparenti: Explained

These are verbs in which the pronominal particles (mi, ti, si, ci, vi) are not used as a direct object, but they represent an indirect object.

If in reflexive verbs these particles mean “oneself”, here they mean “to oneself”.

Le ragazze si pettinano i capelli. = Le ragazze pettinano i capelli a sé stesse

Girls brush their hair. Lit. Girls brush hair “to themselves”.

In this case, the subject (le ragazze) is performing an action (si pettinano) on a direct object (i capelli), with si meaning “to themselves”, referred to le ragazze.

comprarsi italian

Riflessivi apparenti: Rules

Free Guide
How to Learn Languages Fast

These verbs behave exactly as reflexive verbs. The only difference is in the grammatical function of the pronominal particles (mi, ti, si, ci, vi).

Let’s look at the conjugation of some riflessivi apparenti. These are always followed by an object, as you will see in the examples below. 

Presente
  Comprarsi
(to buy)
Pettinarsi
(to brush)
Mettersi
(to put on)
io mi compro mi pettino mi metto
tu ti compri ti pettini ti metti
lui, lei, Lei si compra si pettina si mette
noi ci compriamo ci pettiniamo ci mettiamo
voi vi comprate vi pettinate vi mettete
loro, Loro si comprano si pettinano si mettono
Passato Prossimo
  Comprarsi
(to buy)
Pettinarsi
(to brush)
Mettersi
(to put on)
io  mi sono comprato/a mi sono pettinato/a mi sono messo/a
tu ti sei comprato /a ti sei pettinato/a ti sei messo/a
lui, lei, Lei  si è comprato /a si è pettinato/a si è messo/a
noi  ci siamo comprati /e ci siamo pettinati/e ci siamo messi/e
voi  vi siete comprati /e vi siete pettinati/e vi siete messi/e
loro, Loro si sono comprati /e si sono pettinati/e si sono messi/e

oneself Italian

Riflessivi apparenti: Examples

Here are some more examples:

Ieri ci siamo comprati una moto!

Yesterday we bought –to ourselves- a motorbike!

Oggi non mi sono pettinata i capelli.

Today I did not brush my hair.

Per uscire Giorgia si è messa un vestito.

To go out, Giorgia put on a dress.

Still translating in your head? Wanna speak Italian for real? Check out Stefano's courses to think directly in Italian and become fluent fast!

Stefano

Italian language tutor, course author, and polyglot. After learning 12 languages, I can tell you that we all master languages by listening and mimicking. With my method, you'll be speaking Italian from Lesson 1.

Follow me to fluency

Receive my free resources once a week together with my best offers! No need to look around, just tell me where to send everything.
I WANT TO LEARN*
Opt out at any time.

Leave a Reply

To master this topic, take a lesson from my audio course!

Try my courses for free​
ripeti con me mockup sm
Overcome your Barriers

Anything holding you back from becoming fluent?
Get on the right track today with my free checklist!

pain learning languages checklist preview
How long to fluency?

Find out how long it will take you to master Italian!
Get on the right track in 3 minutes.

dolce vita logo

We're already friends!

Coming from Luca and Marina?
Here's a special deal for you!
Just tell me where I should send the coupon.

50% OFF
all language resources

We're already friends!

Coming from All Language Resources?
Here's a special deal for you!
Just tell me where I should send the coupon.

50% OFF
GRAB A COUPON NOW, REDEEM IT LATER
50% OFF

To receive free resources once a week together with my best offers, just tell me where to send everything. Opt out at any time.