This lesson will help you answer the following questions:
- What is a reciprocal pronominal verb?
- How do you conjugate a reciprocal pronominal verb?
- How to use reciprocal pronominal verbs in French?
- Can all verbs be reciprocal?
+ Examples of sentences with reciprocal pronominal verbs
Construction of reciprocal pronominal verbs:
Reciprocal pronominal verbs are constructed EXACTLY like reflexive pronominal verbs:
a reciprocal pronoun + a verb
Example: On se connait
In the infinitive, it will have the following form:
The reciprocal pronoun “ se ” + a verb in the infinitive
Example: Se connaitre
Here's a summary table of reciprocal pronouns:
|Il / Elle / On
|Ils / Elles
Usage of reciprocal pronominal verbs:
Reciprocal reflexive verbs are used when the subject, which encompasses multiple people (the one performing the action) and the object, which also includes several people (the one receiving the action) share a reciprocal relationship.
On s'embrasse. (both of us, we kiss each other)
I kiss him, he kisses me.
→ On s'embrasse l'un et l'autre
The subject represents two people, each performing an action (kissing) concerning the other.
What is the difference between reflexive and reciprocal reflexive verbs?
Reflexive verbs in French:
Reflexive verbs are used when the subject of the verb acts upon itself.
I can add "moi-même" (=myself)
→ Je m'expatrie moi-même
Reciprocal reflexive verbs in French:
Reciprocal reflexive verbs are used when the subject represents multiple people, and they perform the action on one another.
On se voyait
I can add "l'un et l'autre" (=each other)
→ On se voyait l'un et l'autre
💡 Reciprocal reflexive verbs are always used with plural subjects: on / nous / vous / ils / elles
⚠️ It's not necessarily the verb and the subject that indicate if it's a reciprocal or reflexive verb; it's the context.
Ils se lavent (reflexive verb)
Ils se lavent (reciprocal reflexive verb)