French pronoun 'se' question
In the first lesson of French pronouns there isn't anything mentioned about 'se'. Could someone explain me when to use it? I've tried looking it up and all I can find is that it's a reflexive pronoun which says nothing to me. Merci beaucoup d'avance :)
It is attached to certain verbs to show that it is an action that you do to yourself. Se laver, for instance, is to wash yourself. One would normally learn it as part of the verb and use it with that verb.
That is a very basic answer that doesn't cover all its usages just what it 'basically' means
Yup! :) (I knew some erudite person would come along with a more complete explanation- and they did!)
"Pronominal verbs are verbs that need a reflexive pronoun in addition to a subject pronoun, because the subject(s) performing the action of the verb are the same as the object(s) being acted upon."
just think of the verb, to wash. i'm washing. but wait, that's a bit unclear. what am i washing? myself. so, i'm washing myself. je me lave. but over there, she's washing her child. so, elle ne se lave pas, elle lave son enfant. the confusion becomes that in english, you can often leave out the pronoun because its often considered implied - if you don't mention any object your performing the verb on, then its assumed to be being done to yourself or just understood that you're washing something else by the context of the situation. not so in french, you have to say it. this one is easy for english speakers to understand because it is still pretty common for us to say "i wash myself."
another example, one that seems less obvious and is more likely to confuse, is the verb "réveiller/se réveiller", to wake up. why isn't it "je réveille", instead of "je me réveille", i wake myself. it doesn't make a lot of sense for english speakers why you need a reflexive pronoun here. but its the exact same reason as above. you can't just say "je réveille", you have to say what you are waking up. if you don't include the "me" here, it means you're waking up something else who isn't you. your husband, your dog, your cat. "je me réveille" vs "je réveille mon chat".
just think of it as, verbs in which somebody is doing something to themselves or to parts of their own body rather than somebody else's, typically have a reflexive prounoun.