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French Verb Conjugation

List of Difficult French Reflexive Verb Expressions + Exercises

Camille Chevalier-Karfis By Camille Chevalier-Karfis on November 6, 2017
List of Difficult Reflexive Verb Expressions + Exercises

French Reflexive verbs can be difficult to understand for students. Some don’t make any sense, such as “se sentir”, “s’ennuyer”, “s’occuper de”… So here is a list of difficult to understand or remember French pronominal verbs. Feel free to suggest more!

I’ve written a series of articles on French reflexive verbs, so in this article, I will only concentrate on these reflexive verbs that have an idiomatic meaning, or that are particularly difficult to understand or remember for English speakers, such as “se moquer de quelqu’un” – to taunt, mock, pick on, make fun of someone.

  • La jeune fille se moque de son petit-frère.
    The girl is picking on her little brother.

If you can think of more examples of difficult / idiomatic French reflexive verbs, please add them in the comment section below with the English translation, and I’ll add them up to the list.

Idiomatic / Difficult French Reflexive Verbs

  1. to go away = s’en aller (not followed by anything)
  2. to have fun = s’amuser
  3. to expect = s’attendre à
  4. to wonder whether = se demander si
  5. to manage, get by = se débrouiller
  6. to hurry up = se dépêcher
  7. to relax = se détendre
  8. to head toward= se diriger vers
  9. to have a hunch = se douter de/que
  10. to move on the side to let something go by = s’écarter
  11. to get (farther) away from something = s’éloigner de
  12. to be bored = s’embêter
  13. to be bored = s’ennuyer
  14. to get along with someone = s’entendre (bien /mal) avec qq’un
  15. to get angry at someone = se fâcher contre qq’un
  16. to get used to = s’habituer à
  17. to be interested in = s’intéresser à
  18. to worry = s’inquiéter
  19. to settle in (eg, a home) = s’installer dans
  20. to be wary of = se méfier
  21. to make fun of someone = se moquer de
  22. to begin to = se mettre à
  23. to take care of = s’occuper de
  24. to remember = se rappeler
  25. to find something delicious = se régaler
  26. to realize = se rendre compte de
  27. to gather together = se réunir
  28. to feel = se sentir
  29. to be located = se situer
  30. to remember = se souvenir de
  31. to be mistaken = se tromper
  32. to be located = se trouver

How can I Remember the Meaning of These French Reflexive Verbs?

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The best way to remember these tricky French reflexive verbs meaning is to learn them in the context of a sentence. Link them to a visual situation, not to English words, since sometimes, the French and English won’t match.

  1. Tromper quelqu’un = to cheat (on) someone
  2. Se tromper = to be mistaken.

So, if you apply the reflexive verb logic, se tromper = to cheat on oneself. It’s kind of far form to be mistaken… Translation won’t help. You have to consider these verbs like idioms, and learn them in context!

Beware of Cognate French Verbs

It’s like “se moquer”. The connection with “to mock” is not hard, it’s what we call “a cognate”, a word that is the same between French and English.

But why should it be reflexive? You don’t mock yourself someone…

Furthermore, how often to you use “to mock” in English? Most of the time, you’d say “to make fun of someone, or to pick on someone”… You may then have a hard time remembering the French translation is “se moquer de quelqu’un”…

So cognates are a double sword “friend” – you think you already know the word, and it’s easy to remember its meaning when you read it, but because you think you know it, you don’t spend time learning it, and when you need to use it yourself you often forget “it’s kind of the same as in English”… except that it’s not exactly the same… So at the end, you should spend more time learning cognates, not less!

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Idiomatic / Difficult French Pronominal Verbs Exercises

Now let’s train with these difficult French pronominal verbs. Even if you don’t do the exercises, I encourage you to read the answers since they make good “in context” examples for these reflexive verbs which are typically difficult to understand for students.

1) s’en aller (not followed by anything)
Le bateau _____________.
Le bateau s’en va.
The boat goes away.

2) s’attendre à
Chloé _____________ à recevoir des fleurs.
Chloé s’attend à recevoir des fleurs.
Chloé expects to receive flowers.

3) se demander si
Vous _____________ si vous avez raison.
Vous vous demandez si vous avez raison.
You wonder whether you are right.

4) se débrouiller
Je _____________ toute seule.
Je me débrouille toute seule.
I manage by myself.

5) se dépêcher
Pierre et toi _____________ de finir ce travail.
Pierre et toi vous dépêchez de finir ce travail.
You hurry up to finish this work.

6) se détendre
Ils _____________ le weekend.
Ils se détendent le weekend.
They relax during the weekend.

7) se diriger vers
Les étudiantes _____________ vers le musée.
Les étudiantes se dirigent vers le musée.
The students head toward the museum.

8) se douter de/que
Je _____________ de quelque chose.
Je me doute de quelque chose.
I have a hunch on something.

9) s’écarter
Mon ami et moi _____________ de ce chien.
Mon ami et moi nous écartons de ce chien.
We move away from that dog.

10) s’éloigner de
Vous _____________ de l’océan.
Vous vous éloignez de l’océan.
You get farther from the ocean.

11) s’embêter
Tu _____________ quand tu es tout seul.
Tu t’embêtes quand tu es tout seul.
You are bored when you are by yourself.

12) s’ennuyer
Il _____________ à l’école.
Il s’ennuie à l’école.
He is bored at school.

13) s’entendre (bien /mal) avec qq’un Arthur et moi _____________ très bien.
Arthur et moi nous entendons très bien.
Arthur and I get along very well.

14) se fâcher contre qq’un
Je _____________ contre les enfants.
Je me fâche contre les enfants.
I get angry at the children

15) s’habituer à
Tu _____________ à ta nouvelle vie.
Tu t’habitues à ta nouvelle vie.
You are getting used to your new life

16) s’interesser à
Nous _____________ au sport.
Nous nous intéressons au sport.
We are interested in sports

17) S’inquiéter
Je _____________ pour ma soeur.
Je m’inquiète pour ma soeur.
I worry about my sister.

18) s’installer dans
L’étudiant _____________ dans son nouvel appartement.
L’étudiant s’installe dans son nouvel appartement.
The student settles into his new apartment.

19) se méfier
Nous _____________ de lui.
Nous nous méfions de lui.
We are wary of him.

20) se moquer de
Les méchants enfants _____________ de la grosse fille
Les méchants enfants se moquent de la grosse fille.
The nasty children make fun of the big girl.

21) se mettre à
Soudainement il _____________ à pleuvoir.
Soudainement il se met à pleuvoir.
Suddenly it starts to rain.

22) s’occuper de
On _____________ du dîner.
On s’occupe du dîner.
We are taking care of dinner.

23) se rappeler
Je _____________ les vacances en Italie.
Je me rappelle les vacances en Italie.
I remember our vacation in Italy.

24) se régaler
Le chien _____________ avec les os frais.
Le chien se régale avec les os frais.
The dog finds the fresh bones delicious.

25) se rendre compte de
On _____________ se rend compte du froid.
On se rend compte du froid.
We realize how cold it is.

26) se reunir
La famille _____________ tous les dimanches.
La famille se réunit tous les dimanches.
The family gets together every sunday.

27) se sentir
Je _____________ bien avec toi.
Je me sens bien avec toi.
I feel good with you.

28) se situer
La poste _____________ à côté de la gare.
La poste se situe à côté de la gare.
The post office is next to the train station.

29) se souvenir de
Tu _____________ des vacances en Italie.
Tu te souviens des vacances en Italie.
You remember the vacations in Italy.

30) se tromper
Nous ne _____________ pas souvent.
Nous ne nous trompons pas souvent.
We’re not often mistaken.

31) se trouver
La poste _____________ à côté de la gare.
La poste se trouve à côté de la gare.
The post office is located next to the train station.

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