A reflexive verb expresses the activity of a subject (speaker) that relates to himself (himself). Reflexivity is a special case of the direction of action of a verb ( diathesis ) .
Reflexive verbs in German
In German there is a certain number of verbs which, in conjunction with a reflexive pronoun, enable reflexive statements about activities; that is, grammatical subject and grammatical object are identical in such verbs. For example , to express that the one who washes and the one who is washed are the same person, the reflexive pronoun himself is used to form the reflexive verb to wash : Martin is washing himself.
So-called real reflexive verbs are also constructed using reflexive pronouns (e.g. be careful , concentrate ), but linguistically they do not allow an object that deviates from the grammatical subject:
Martin washes himself. - Martin washes his little brother.
- Martin concentrates. - not , however: Martin focused his little brother.
In cases like The army concentrates its forces , the verb concentrate has a different meaning ('to contract') and is not a reflexive verb.
Martin washes himself. - not , however: Martin is washed up.
In addition, reflexive verbs the reflexive in Substantivierung lose if it this to high frequency or lexicalized conversions:
Martin is acting strange. - Martin's behavior is strange. - not : Martin's behavior is strange.
Usually, however, the reflexive pronoun is retained for semantic clarity:
Martin washes himself with pleasure. - Martin is enjoying himself washing himself - not : Martin is enjoying the washing because it now appears as if Martin is generally enjoying washing.
- Duden. The grammar. 8th, revised edition. Dudenverlag, Mannheim, Vienna and Zurich 2009. ISBN 978-3-411-04048-3 . Chapter “Reflexive Verbs”, pp. 399–404.
- Duden . The grammar. 8th edition. Bibliographisches Institut / Dudenverlag, Mannheim 2009, ISBN 978-3-411-04048-3 , p. 725 f .