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Pronomial verb trouble

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Tyrion101
Senior Member
United States
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153 posts - 174 votes 
Speaks: French

 
 Message 1 of 3
30 December 2014 at 1:26am | IP Logged 
I only have a vague understanding of what exactly a pronomial verb is, I figured out how to conjugate them, but any time I try to use them, and occasionally when I try to use other things, I get told that they are not used here, or they're used like this, and now I'm very confused. I'm thinking of verbs like: Je m'appelle Patrice, I know this one, because it is one of the first ones I learned and is about the only one I know how to use in that context. Can someone help me out? Feel free to respond in français if you like.
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tastyonions
Triglot
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Speaks: English*, French, Spanish
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 Message 2 of 3
01 January 2015 at 4:12pm | IP Logged 
The usage will differ depending on what kind of pronominal verb it is.

1. There are some verbs that are used only in pronominal form, like se suicider.

Elle s'est suicidée hier soir.
She killed herself last night.

But that's pretty somber so the rest of my examples will be less dark...

2. Others just express a "passive" sense of a verb.

Le basket-ball est un sport qui se joue dans plusieurs pays.
Basket-ball is a sport that is played in many countries.

3. Others express a "reflexive" sense, indicating that the subject is acting "on himself" in some way:

Il s'habillait d'une manière bizarre, genre baba cool des années soixante.
He dressed (himself) really strangely, like a hippy out of the '60s.

4. Others indicate reciprocity, with two parties acting "on each other":

Ils s'engueulent dans la salle d'attente.
They argue (with each other) in the waiting room.

5. Finally there are plenty of cases where putting the verb in pronominal form simply changes the meaning in a less straightforward way:

J'ai laissé tomber le français pendant quelques mois mais je vais m'y remettre bientôt.
I dropped French for a few months but I'm going to get back at it soon.

Je me sers d'une grande pelle. J'aimerais creuser un trou jusqu'en Chine.
I use a large shovel. I would like to dig a hole all the way to China.

Après quelques minutes de conversation je me suis aperçu qu'elle avait l'esprit mal tourné.
After a few minutes of conversation I noticed that she had a dirty mind.

Je me demandais pourquoi les extraterrestres avaient atterri dans mon jardin.
I was wondering why the aliens had landed in my yard.

Le concombre m'a fait tellement peur que je me suis évanoui.
The cucumber frightened me so much that I fainted.

There are also lots of cases where a pronominal verb forms part of a "locution" or "set phrase":

Regardez les faits et vous vous rendrez compte qu'on avait raison de s'en inquiéter.
Look at the facts and you will realize that we were right to worry about it.

Edited by tastyonions on 01 January 2015 at 9:18pm

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Tyrion101
Senior Member
United States
Joined 3688 days ago

153 posts - 174 votes 
Speaks: French

 
 Message 3 of 3
03 January 2015 at 7:51pm | IP Logged 
Thanks for the explanation, I suppose I will just have to memorize the ones that aren't quite so straightforward.


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