German Reflexive Verbs with Accusative


A German reflexive verb is a verb that has an object which is the same as the subject of the verb ==> the action of the reflexive verb is something one is doing to or for oneself. (I do this to myself) Some verbs are always reflexive, others are not.
The reflexive pronouns are similar to the regular accusative and dative pronouns, but in the 3rd person singular and plural, there is only one form of the reflexive pronoun for all genders and both accusative and dative: sich. Let's focus on the accusative first.
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Reflexive verbs are used in sentences in which the subject and object are the same. For example, I can look at my dog, in which case my dog is the direct object of the sentence, and I am the subject of the sentence. But if I looked in the mirror, I would look at myself. In this example, I am the subject but also the direct object of the sentence, and the verb is now reflexive.

In English, reflexive pronouns end in -self, regardless of whether the reflexive pronoun is the direct or the indirect object. In German, we need to use a different “set” or pronouns for direct object reflexive pronouns (accusative), and indirect object pronouns (dative case). 

2. Accusative Reflexive Pronouns 

It is important to remember that accusative pronouns and accusative reflexive pronouns differ slightly. We use reflexive pronouns only when the subject and the direct object are the same. If the subject and the direct object are not the same, we use regular accusative pronouns. 

Er kämmt seinen Hund -> Er kämmt ihnHe brushes his dog/him
He is the subject, and his dog/him is the direct object. Not reflexive! 
Er kämmt sich. He brushes himself. 
He is the subject and the direct object. Reflexive!

acc refl 1 jpg
acc ref 2 jpg

Note that regular accusative pronouns and reflexive pronouns are the same for “ich, du, wir, ihr”, and change to “sich” for “er, sie, es, Sie”. 

2. Reflexive Verbs with Accusative 

When learning reflexive verbs, both with the accusative and the dative, it is important to remember that not all reflexive verbs in German are also reflexive in English. There are many German reflexive verbs that are always used with the accusative case. When looking these up in the dictionary, we will notice the infinitive pronoun “sich”. 

For example, the verb “vorstellen” can appear in different ways. The non-reflexive, separable verb  “vorstellen” verb means “to stand in front of”. However, it can also be reflexive using accusative reflexive pronouns. Then it will be written as “sich vorstellen”, which means “to introduce oneself”. When it is used as a dative reflexive verb, it will be written as “sich etwas vorstellen”, then it means “to imagine something (to oneself)”.

Here is list of reflexive verbs that are commonly used with the dative case:
sich anziehen – to get dressed
sich beeilen – to hurry (up)
sich duschen – to shower
sich erinnern an – to remember
sich freuen über – to be happy about
sich interessieren für – to be interested in 
sich vorstellen – to introduce (oneself)

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Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

The CEFR is an international standard used to describe language ability. Here are specific details of the CEFR for this topic.

General Explanation:

Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment). Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters. Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.

Specific Capabilities at this Level

I can write short, simple notes and messages relating to matters in areas of immediate needs. I can write a very simple personal letter, for example thanking someone for something.
Spoken Production:
I can use a series of phrases and sentences to describe in simple terms my family and other people, living conditions, my educational background and my present or most recent job.
Spoken Interaction:
I can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar topics and activities. I can handle very short social exchanges, even though I can’t usually understand enough to keep the conversation going myself.
I can read very short, simple texts. I can find specific, predictable information in simple everyday material such as advertisements, prospectuses, menus and timetables and I can understand short simple personal letters.
I can understand phrases and the highest frequency vocabulary related to areas of most immediate personal relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local area, employment). I can catch the main point in short, clear, simple messages and announcements.