Se + verb = New verb?
I have seen alot of "se" verbs. The "se" seems to change the meaning of the entire verbs like "passer" which means "to spend" or "to pass" into "se passer" which means "to happen". Why does it do this? Is there a method?
se denotes a reflexive verb i.e something happening directly to subject. Appeler is probably a clearer example. Appeler means to call so il appelle would mean he calls someone whereas il s'appelle means he calls himself i.e. his name is. Hope that helps
Verbs with 'se' in the infinitive are properly called pronominal verbs, of which reflexive verbs are one type.
I would definitely advise memorizing them as a separate entity from their 'se'-less counterparts, if they have one. Sometimes the change in meaning will be small or obvious and sometimes it won't, but there's always a difference in usage, so it's worth trying to keep them separate in your mind.
Hi Belgium, scroll down to #4 for your answer. In short, there are some idiomatic reflexive verbs where the meaning in fact changes (about 40 of them being common.)