I'm not sure I understand the point of this having the reflexive "się" here. In other examples in this lesson, like "Mężczyzna myje się" that makes sense because he is washing himself. But in this instance, the girl is playing with the dog specifically. This is not a thing she is doing to herself at all. Is it just that certain verbs always require the use of się afterwards? I've noticed this with other sentences as well.
It makes sense to me. The verb bawić without the reflexive particle can be used as a transitive verb which roughly translates into 'to entertain someone', 'to amuse someone', 'to make someone enjoy themselves'.
With the reflexive particle it means that the subject of the sentence is 'on the receiving end of the fun'. Literally the sentence means: The girl is enjoying herself with the dog.
Since it's just not a natural sentence to say in English, the verb 'play' is used instead.
But I agree with Gerardd88, reflexivity does not always make sense.
That helps a lot! The way you put it actually made this make sense to me. I have to remember that not all verbs translate exactly.
That's a super helpful answer. So if it were the case that the girl was playing with the dog but clearly not having fun herself, would dropping the reflexive make sense?
I guess you can do that. But 'dog' has to be a direct object (accusative) then, since the irreflexive bawić is a transitive verb only.
Dziewczyna bawi psa. (The girl entertains/amuses the dog.)
I'm not a native speaker, so I can't comment on how common or usable that sentence is.
Correct, but sounds as if she performed some magical tricks or other rather unusual things to amuse the dog. So not very common with animals. Also not really common with people, but obviously more.
But there's nothing in the word that forbids the girl to have fun herself.
The idea of reflexiveness as a grammatical category is that in most languages (which I am aware of) that have it, there are a lot of verbs that are reflexive in the grammatical sense but this has nothing to do with their meaning.
You may have not noticed that in Spanish, since in Spanish (and in Romance languages in general) that reflexiveness seems to make much more sense. But take a look at any list of these verbs and read their meanings to see what I'm talking about. This is also similar e.g. in German.
So don't try to think why a verb is reflexive. It's like wondering why a verb is irregular or why it belongs to a certain conjugation. Just learn how reflexive verbs behave and inflect and remember them with that się when you learn vocabulary.
This helps clear things up for me, thank you! I'll just have to get used to the fact that some verbs, regardless of situation, are gonna be reflexive. It makes more sense, even if it is a bit frustrating. Though if I couldn't deal with a little frustrating I wouldn't be learning Polish. :P
Yes and no. I mean, technically yes, but without a context, not really. "grać" is used for playing games (and musical instruments). So if she was playing chess with the dog, sure. Football, computer games, or together in a band - yeah. Without a context, no.