German speakers – watch out for reflexive verbs

We have plenty of reflexive verbs in English. You can talk to yourself, hurt yourself, be proud of yourself, or do any number of other things.

However, there are many verbs that are reflexive in German, but not in English. This sometimes causes problems for German speakers who are learning English, because they try to make the English verb reflexive too. Here are 12 examples of verbs that behave in this way with example sentences in English:

1. Sich entscheiden
I can’t decide which book to buy.

2. Sich für etwas interessieren
I’m interested in learning languages.

3. Sich leisten
I’d like to buy a new computer, but I can’t afford one at the moment.

4. Sich verlaufen
I thought I knew the way back to the hotel, but unfortunately I got lost.

5. Sich erkälten
I’ve caught a cold. I feel terrible!

6. Sich beeilen
You need to hurry up if you want to catch the train.

7. Sich entschuldigen
She apologised for being late, but she does it all the time.

8. Sich verbessern
The sales figures have improved dramatically this month

9. Sich auf etwas vorbereiten
We are preparing for the conference at the end of May.

10. Sich über etwas beschweren
I complained about the food because it was cold.

11. Sich auf etwas konzentrieren
I need to concentrate on getting this project finished. I don’t have time to start anything else at the moment.

12. Sich an etwas gewöhnen
I don’t think I’ll ever get used to these early shifts. I don’t like mornings!

So, the next time you come across a reflexive verb in something that you want to say, make sure that it is also a reflexive verb in English.

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