German Grammar Explained /

Reflexive pronouns and reflexive verbs

There are some words that are very hard to translate, those are usually words with purely grammatical meaning, since they don't carry real meaning. One of our favorites are reflexive pronouns...
mich dich sich uns euch
Where the hecking heck are those coming from?
Some verbs are simply not enough on their own, they need an extra pronoun to be fully competent. That reflexive pronoun refers back to the subject. This movie called "Incompetent but Reflexive" is featured by...
sich ärgern
sich erinnern
sich interessieren
sich ernähren
sich konzentrieren and the special appearance of: sich entscheiden
That means...
Ich ärgere. eh'nt... WRONG!
Ich ärgere mich. Sie erinnert. eh'nt... WRONG!
Sie erinnert sich.
And so on.
Sich entscheiden - the special guest
Entscheiden ist somehow a more multifaceted verb. It can work with or without being reflexive. The meaning changes slightly...
Entscheiden means "to decide" and sich entscheiden means… "to decide". See? When translations fail to express subtle differences, let's see the examples!
Impersonal decisions → no reflexive
Angela Merkel muss viel entscheiden.
Angela Merkel has to decide a lot.
Personal decisions → reflexive
Tom kann sich nicht für eine neue Frisur entscheiden.
Tom cannot decide on a new hair style.
Quiz time? 1. Was soll ich heute anziehen? Ich kann _____ a. mich nicht entscheiden b. nicht entscheiden 2. Was habt ihr im Meeting _____ ? a. entschieden
b. euch entschieden 3. Wer soll _____, was wir machen müssen? a. sich entscheiden
b. entscheiden Find solutions at the bottom.
Watch out! Verbs that are reflexive in English aren't necessarily reflexive in German and the other way around. Languages are different oftentimes...
Ich interessiere mich für alte Autos.
I interest myself for old cars.
I'm interested in old cars.
Solutions: 1.a - 2.a - 3.b