What are reflexive verbs in Luxembourgish and how to use them

1 What is a reflexive verb?

A Luxembourgish reflexive verb describes an action of someone (subject) where the action reflects back to the subject. In other words, whoever is speaking is doing an action to himself.

For example:

Ech wäsche(n) mech. I wash myself.
Du stells dech vir (sech virstellen). You present yourself.

Luxembourgish reflexive verbs are used in connection with a reflexive pronoun.

2 But what is a reflexive pronoun?

A reflexive pronoun is an object pronoun. For example: mech (myself),  dech (yourself), sech (himself), eis (ourselves)…:

Example 1:

Ech wäsche(n) mech all Dag. I wash (myself) everyday.

“Ech” is the subject of the sentence. I’m acting: I wash.
Wäschen”  is the reflexive verb.
Mech” is the object pronoun of the sentence.

Example 2:

Ech konzentréiere(n) mech op den Test. I concentrate on the exam.

“Ech” is the subject of the sentence.
Konzentréieren” is the reflexive verb.
Mech” is the object of the sentence.

Luxembourgish reflexive verbs are commonly used in the Luxembourgish language and you will hear them on a daily basis. But in which situations do Luxembourgers use a reflexive verb? This is used…

1 to describe things you do (to yourself)

2 to describe a change (sech tommelen: to hurry up, sech undoen: to get dressed)

And of course – Luxembourgish wouldn’t be Luxembourgish if this rule didn’t depend on the case. That’s why the Luxembourgish cases are so important to learn. The Luxembourgish reflexive verb is used either in the accusative Case or in the dative Case.

3 How to conjugate reflexive verbs

The present tense of Luxembourgish reflexive verbs is used in the same way as an ordinary verb. The only difference is that you always need the reflexive pronoun with it. Let’s illustrate this with the verb sech tommelen (to hurry up).

Ech              tommele    mech

Du               tommels    dech

Hien/hatt  tommelt    sech

Mir             tommelen  eis

Dir.             tommelt     iech

Si                tommelen  sech

4 Word order

In statements, the reflexive pronoun should come directly after the conjugated verb, or as close to the subject as possible (while maintaining verb-second position).

Example:

All Dag duschen ech mech. Everyday I take a shower.
Ech hu mech haut ëm d’Iessen gekëmmert. I took care of the meal today.

In questions, the same rule applies: the reflexive pronoun stays as close to the subject as possible, allowing for correct verb placement:

Example:

Hues du dir d’Zänn gebotzt? Did you brush your teeth?
Erënners du dech un déi lescht Vakanz? Do you remember last holidays?

5 False reflexive verbs

You can build actually a lot of verbs with the reflexive pronoun:

wäschen –  if you decide to use a reflexive pronoun before it will become sech wäschen.

Ech wäsche mäin Auto. I wash my  car.

BUT

Ech wäsche mech (I wash myself).

This works with many works in Luxembourgish like for example with the verb treffen – read more about treffen and sech treffen in this lesson.

You can download the enhanced version of this lesson which includes a list of the most common Luxembourgish reflexive verbs in both the dative case and the accusative case as well as the chart with the reflexive pronouns.

       Download NOW the complete lesson as a PDF document:
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