Verbs with and without si

Reminder: reflexive verbs are verbs that you “do to yourself”. They are used with a reflexive pronoun (the equivalent of “myself”, “yourself”, etc.) and generally refer to the same action as their non-reflexive counterparts.

Francesca ha lavato il bambino. lavare, passato prossimo 

Francesca has washed the child.

Francesca si è lavata. lavarsi, passato prossimo

Francesca has washed (herself).

Luca ha svegliato suo figlio. svegliare, passato prossimo 

Luca has woken up his son.

Luca si è svegliato. svegliarsi, passato prossimo 

Luca has woken up (himself).

There is a group of verbs that mean something different if you add in the reflexive si (the equivalent of “oneself”). The most common examples are:

Abbandonare means “to leave”, whereas the reflexive verb abbandonarsi means “to lose yourself, to let yourself go”.

Giulio ha abbandonato la partita. abbandonare, passato prossimo 

Giulio left/quit the game.

Mirella si è abbandonata ai ricordi. abbandonarsi, passato prossimo

Mirella lost herself in her memories.

Riflettere means “to reflect”, whereas riflettersi means “to look at oneself”, such as in a mirror, for example.

Anna riflette sul da farsi riguardo all’hotel. riflettere, presente 

Anna reflects upon what to do about the hotel.

Magda si riflette nello specchio. riflettersi, presente 

Magda looks at herself in the mirror.

Trovare means “to find” whereas trovarsi means “to be somewhere” or “to be located”.

Francesca ha finalmente trovato le chiavi che aveva perso. trovare, passato prossimo 

Francesca has finally found the keys she had lost.

Mattia si trova a Milano questo fine settimana. trovarsi, presente

Mattia is in Milan this weekend (literally, “Mattia finds himself in Milan this weekend”).

Trattare means “to treat” or “to deal (with)”, whereas trattarsi means “to concern” or "to be".

Il libro tratta di attualità. trattare, passato prossimo 

The book deals with current affairs.

Forse si tratta di un errore.

trattarsi, presente

Maybe it's a mistake.

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