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.
Showering Woman

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!

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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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