Guide to Reciprocal Verbs in French : s’aimer

reciprocal verbs in french (1)

If you are familiar with reflexive verbs in French, les verbes pronominaux, you may have run into reciprocal verbs on the way.

They are a type of pronominal verbs, that look similar, but have a few particularities you’ll learn in this post.

The trick about reflexive verbs, as well as reciprocal verbs, is that they require a reflexive pronoun se, and this is how you’ll be recognizing them easily.

Let’s get started.

What are Reciprocal Verbs?

Reciprocal verbs are a type of reflexive (pronominal) verb where people do something to each other.

A reciprocal verb is a form of the pronominal verb. It has both a subject pronoun and a reflexive pronoun. When a reciprocal verb is used, the reflexive pronoun indicates that the action is exchanged between subjects acting on each other.

S’aimer or détester are examples of reciprocal pronominal verbs:

Ils s’aiment depuis le lycée.

They’ve loved each other since high school.

Ils se detestent depuis leur divorce.

They’ve hated each other their divorce.

Reciprocal verbs, as opposed to pronominal verbs, use only certain forms. Because reciprocal verbs require two people, the only forms necessary are the plural forms and the third person pronoun (on).

Notice that only bolded forms are reciprocal verbs.

je me marie                nous nous marions
tu te maries                vous vous mariez
il/elle/on se marie     ils/elles se marient

It is interesting to note that divorcer (to divorce) is not pronominal, meaning it doesn’t have a pronominal pronoun.

Il divorce sa femme.

He divorces his wife.

A Reminder : What are Pronominal Verbs?

In grammar, pronominal verbs refer to pronouns. As you may already know, conjugated verbs always require a subject pronoun, but pronominal verbs require a reflexive pronoun as well.

A pronominal verb is a verb that is conjugated with a reflexive pronoun that refers to the same person as the subject.

Je me lève.

l am getting up.

Tu t’endors.

You’re falling asleep.

Ils se sont mariés.

They got married.

French Reflexive Pronouns

The reflexive pronoun se in French goes with reflexive verbs, standing in front of the conjugated verb. If the verb begins with the vowel (a,e,i,o,u,h) then the reflexive pronoun will get contracted.

( see examples in the brackets).

This is how the reflexive pronoun forms look like in French and English.

French  –  English

me (m’) – me, myself

te (t’) – you, yourself

se (s’) – him (self), her (self), it(self)

nous – us, ourselves

vous – you, yourself, yourselves

se (s’) – them, themselves

When do we Use Pronominal Verbs

•  Pronominal verbs are often used for daily activities, and describe actions ‘done’ to the self:

Je me lève à 7 heures, je se douche et je me brosse les dents.

l get up at 7am, l shower, and brush my teeth.

 In the negative form, the reflexive pronoun stays in front of the verb.

Je ne me lave pas souvent.

I don’t wash often.

Tu ne te trompes jamais.

You are never wrong.

The different types of pronominal verbs

1. Passive pronominal verbs
The subject undergoes the action but does not accomplish it.

Cette leçon se comprend bien. It’s not the lesson that understands, but a person studying.

This lesson is understandable.

2. Reflexive pronominal verbs
The subject undergoes the action he performs.

 La reine se regarde dans le miroir.

The queen looks at herself in the mirror.

3. Reciprocal pronominal verbs
The subjects undergo an interaction.

Ces deux frères se battent souvent. They fight each other.

These two brothers often fight.

4. Subjectif pronominal verbs (Les verbes pronominaux subjectifs ou irréfléchis)

The subject does not undergo the action he performs. These verbs are frequently followed by a preposition.

Marc se moque de son frère. Marc is not mocking himself.

Marc is mocking his brother.

Common Reciprocal Reflexive Verbs in French

Like Reflexive Verbs, a Reciprocal Reflexive Verb is identified by the reflexive pronoun SE that precedes it in its infinitive form.

Here are some common French Reciprocal Reflexive Verbs:

s’acheter : to buy (something for) each other
s’adorer : to adore each other
s’aider : to help each other
s’aimer : to love each other
se comprendre : to understand each other
se connaître : to know each other
se détester : to hate each other
se dire : to tell/say to each other
s’écrire : to write to each other
s’envoyer (des courriels) : to send each other (emails)
se mentir : to lie to each other
se parler : to speak/talk to each other
se plaire : to like each other
se poser des questions : to ask each other questions
se promettre : to promise each other
se regarder : to look at each other
se rencontrer : to meet
se ressembler : to look like each other
se téléphoner : to phone/call each other
se voir : to see each other

At Last

Reciprocal verbs are important when talking about things you do with others, or mutual feelings.

Make sure you make a difference between regular pronominal verbs and reciprocal verbs. They do look similar, but essentially are different.

The trick about reflexive verbs, as well as reciprocal verbs, is that they require a reflexive pronoun se, and this is how you’ll be recognizing them easily.

Related Posts

AP Spanish Language Practice

Looking to improve your Spanish skills to take your AP exam? Getting the highest score is just a click away! Find the best AP Spanish

English vs Spanish Language

Are you an English speaker and looking to learn Spanish? As siblings descended from Romance languages, they naturally share similarities. Check them out in our

French and Spanish Language Comparison

Do you wanna know how the two most passionate languages are similar? Let’s talk about the differences and similarities between these romance languages! Welcome to

When did Kobe Learn Spanish

Loving father, ideal husband, amazing man, successful Lakers player, businessman, and he also speaks Spanish! Do you know who he is? How could he do

ALTA Spanish Language Test Questions

Are you taking your ALTA language exam? Don’t let it catch you off guard. Check out the ALTA Spanish Language Test Questions for your high

I Hate the Spanish Language

Do you think Spanish is a beautiful and linguistically rich language? What about the negative opinions that hinder your choice to learn it as a

Get a Certificate in French Language

If you ask yourself why should you take the certification course in French, we’ll help you decide in which cases is useful and in which

What does “Doux” mean in French?

Discover the meaning of “doux” in French and its various uses. Learn how to use this common word in everyday conversation and improve your French

Need in French: Avoir Besoin

It’s in the human need to have needs, right? Learning how to express your needs in French is by all means an important step in

German riddles

Looking for some fun ways to practice your German language skills? Check out our collection of German riddles and tongue twisters! Test your wit and

Cheers in French: 8 happy ways to say it

Celebrate in French style! This blog showcases 8 happy ways to say “cheers” in French, perfect for impressing your French-speaking friends. Santé! How to say

Different Ways to Use Fois in French

Fois is a very common French word, used in different contexts. English speakers oftentimes confuse it with the word “temps”. In this lesson, you’ll learn

Funniest French jokes

In this article, we will share some of the funniest French jokes  that will have you laughing out loud. Let’s get started! Funniest French jokes

Funniest Spanish jokes

¡Hola! You’re in for a treat if you love to laugh and speak Spanish. We’ve compiled a list of the funniest Spanish jokes that will

Jokes about French

In this article, we’ll explore the humorous side of French culture through a collection of jokes about French. Let’s get started! Jokes about French Welcome

News in French: free resources

In this article, we will explore a variety of websites, podcasts, TV channels, and other resources that you can use to stay informed about news

Short German jokes

Laugh your way through language learning with our collection of short German jokes. Discover the funniest puns, one-liners, and more in our guide! German humor

The basic Spanish hand gestures

In this blog post, we will explore the most important Spanish hand gestures, and their meanings, providing a guide to effectively communicate with Spanish speakers

Beautiful French words with meaning

Discover the beauty of the French language by learning its meanings. Learn the beautiful French words and its meaning. Beautiful French words A lot of

How do you say “good” in French?

Learn how to say “good” in French with our easy guide. Perfect for beginners and travelers looking to improve their language skills. “Good” in French

How to say “Cat” in French

How to say cat in French? What’s the word for a kitten in French? Learn more about the basic terminologies of our favorite fur pet

Learn French with PDF resources

Do you know that you can learn French with PDF resources? In this article, we will explore the advantages of using PDF resources to learn

Funny French jokes

Welcome to our article on Funny French jokes! Are you ready to simultaneously laugh and learn a little bit about French culture? French humor can

Funny German jokes

Welcome to our article on Funny German jokes! Get ready to chuckle at some of the funniest German jokes. German jokes Germany has a rich

Quotes in France by famous people

In this article, we will explore some of the most memorable and inspiring quotes in France from French people that have been passed down through

Quotes in Spain by famous people

In today’s post, you’ll learn some famous quotes in Spain by famous people. Quotes in Spain Spain has a rich cultural history and has produced

Best German proverbs

This article will explore some of the most popular German proverbs and delve into their meanings and origins. Check this out! German proverbs German proverbs

French Riddles

Learning some French riddles and playing with a French-speaking friend are great ways to practice if you know a little French. French riddles A good

How to translate Good Evening in French

Welcome to our article on translating “Good Evening” into French! Suppose you’re planning a trip to a French-speaking country or want to impress your friends

Some facts about the French mafia

Let’s discover some facts about the French mafia. facts about the French mafia The French Mafia is one of the world’s most dangerous criminal organizations.

Some facts about the Spanish mafia

Let’s discover some facts about the Spanish mafia. Facts about the Spanish mafia The Spanish mafia is one of the most active and widespread criminal

Some facts about the German mafia

Let’s discover some facts about the German mafia.  Facts about the German mafia The German Mafia (; Maffia; from Italian mafiusi, “clan”) is a criminal