Using Reflexive Verbs in the Past, Present, and Future | French Connection

New French Connection LogoBonjour! Welcome to another edition of French Connection. Three weeks ago, I discussed using reflexive verbs. They are used when you describe something you do upon yourself, like brushing your teeth, and are extremely useful when describing your routine.

As usual, these are the topics that we have covered in French these past few weeks. In red are the topics we will cover today, and in black are topics that you might want to research on your own.

  • Making commands using reflexive verbs
  • Using reflexive verbs in the past tense
  • Differentiating between positive and negative adjectives & their meanings
  • Additional vocabulary related to jobs, as well as learning the difference between cognates 

If you look back on the previous edition, we learned the different reflexive pronouns that go with each pronoun (such as je, and me). For making commands, we remove the pronoun, move the reflexive pronoun to the right of the verb, change it to its appropriate new form, and keep the verb the same. Here is a diagram to illustrate this:Screen Shot 2017-10-22 at 7.36.02 PM.png

Notice how the vous stays the same, the nous stays the same, yet the ‘te’ changes to ‘toi’. The same process is used for all three of these forms, but keep in mind that you can only make commands using these forms- not with the je form, for example. You wouldn’t say, “I, brush my teeth- NOW!”

Also notice how the nous, vous, or tu form is added directly after the verb, not after the direct object (like teeth).

For making a command negative, for instance saying “Don’t brush your teeth”, you add ‘ne’ before the pronouns, keep the verb in its conjugated form (do note, though, that with reflexive verbs, tu verbs do not have an s at the end, unlike the usual conjugation. You then add ‘pas’ after the verb, but before the direct object, like this:Screen Shot 2017-10-22 at 7.42.41 PM.png

Reflexive Verbs in the Past Tense

This is probably the most important tense that you’ll need to know. Whenever you speak about something that happened in the past, when that something involved a reflexive verb, you’ll want to know how to speak in the past tense in the first place. I did an entire lesson on the passé composé for basics, but for this, it is a bit different. For reflexive verbs, you instead use the verb être, not the verb avoir. For review, être means “to be”. Other than that, though, the past tense is the same.

Je me suis brossé les dents.

For this, you keep the original pronoun and the reflexive pronoun, use the appropriate form of être (for je, it is suis), then conjugate the er verb as normal (by removing the r and adding an accent to the e). Here is another example:

Ils se sont lavé dans la baignoire.

Same thing, but we now use the Il pronoun, along with a appropriate reflexive pronoun and form of étre. For the other pronouns:

Il/Elle/On s’est lavé…

Tu t’es lavé…

Nous nous sommes lavé…

Vous vous êtes lavé…

Just to be clear, though: the lavé part is a verb, not part of the actual past tense sentence structure.

Reflexive Verbs in the Future Tense

For the future tense, you simply add the form of aller (to go) after the reflexive pronoun. For example:

Je me vais lève.

All that means is, “I’m going to get up”. You can also do this with the 5 other pronouns. All you have to do is substitute in the appropriate form of aller. 

To sum up the lesson:

  • You make commands by moving the tu, vous, or nous form of the reflexive pronoun and placing it behind the verb, while removing the original pronoun. For example: Lave-toi les mains. (Wash your hands)
  • You can talk about something you did in the past by adding the appropriate form of être after the reflexive pronoun and conjugating the verb. For example: Tu t’es couché. (You went to bed)
  • You can talk about something you will do in the future by adding the appropriate form of aller after the reflexive pronoun. For example: Elle se va maquille. (She will put on makeup)

Since there isn’t any vocabulary to cover from this edition, it is difficult to compose a Quizlet out of it. You are of course, though, welcome to create your own sample sentences down in the comments or for your own practice.

Thanks so much for reading!



2 thoughts on “Using Reflexive Verbs in the Past, Present, and Future | French Connection

  1. Pingback: Negating the Passé Composé & More | French Connection – 12 and Beyond

  2. Pingback: A Culmination of French Connection – 12 and Beyond

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