Reflexive Verbs and Pronouns in Slovene

The general concept of reflexive verbs in grammar refers to a verb whose direct object is its subject. In Slovene, it is better to interpret it as a verb that “reflects” back to its subject (or part of its subject).

As we know, Slovene is a very precise language and skloni seems to be everywhere. with nouns, “direct object” is associated with the Fourth Sklon – Accusative, while “indirect object” is related to the Third Sklon – Dative. No need to say that reflexive pronouns are used with reflexive verbs. And reflexive pronouns are affected by skloni, but in a different way than with nouns.


Reflexive Pronouns: “Se” and “Si”

Reflexive verbs in Slovene can easily be recognized by the short word “se” or “si“, which are reflexive pronouns.

Seis in the fourth sklon.
Si is in the third sklon.

Bonus: In Slovene, some pronouns have a “short” and a “long” version.

Sebe” is the longer version of “se“.
Sebi” is the longer version of “si“.

In Slovene, not all verbs are reflexive. Some are always non-reflexive, some are always reflexive and some can be either. For example:

  • ukvarjati se4 z risanjem6– to occupy yourself with drawing
  • zapomniti si3 sklone4– to memorize declensions
  • bati se4 pajkov2  – to be afraid of spiders
  • učiti se4 slovenščino– to learn Slovene
    učiti slovenščino– to teach Slovene
  • obleči se– to dress myself up
    obleči Anno4 – to dress up Anna

As you can see, the sklon used for the reflexive pronouns is not always the same as the sklon used for the noun. PLEASE, DO NOT PANIC!!! If you understand when to use a certain sklon, then you shouldn’t have too much trouble figuring it out.

For example, the verb umiti (to wash) has few versions:  umiti, ne umiti, umiti se4and umiti si3.

  • umiti koga4/kaj4 – to wash
    The direct object is who/what ∴ the noun is in fourth sklon.
  • ne umiti (kom2/čim2) – to not wash
    The direct object is who/what, even if it’s negative ∴ the noun is in second sklon.
  • umiti se4– to wash myself
    The direct object of the verb is directly the subject ∴ the reflexive pronoun is in fourth sklon.
  • umiti si3 lase4 – to wash my hair
    The direct object of the verb is not directly the subject ∴ the reflexive pronoun is in third sklon.

    The direct object is part of the subject ∴ the noun is in fourth sklon.

It might seems a lot at once, but do not be discourage as learning Slovene takes time and practice. Also, I believe that the best way to learn Slovene is not by memorizing everything by heart (because those you will usually forget), but to understand how to use the skloni, verbs, nouns… and how they “work” together.

I hope I didn’t confused you too much :). If you have any questions or comments, please leave me a message!


Discover more Slovene “lessons” that might interest you: Slovene Numbers & Numerals, Slovene Nouns & Pronouns, Slovene Verbs, Slovene AdjectivesSlovene SyntaxSlovenian Idioms.

Let’s learn,
Anna.

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