You’ve learned how to conjugate reflexive verbs in the present tense (you clever student, you) and now you’re ready to tackle the past tense.
Which, lucky for you, won’t be so complicated since you’ve got the fundamentals down.
BUT, before we get started, I must be honest and tell you that reflexive verbs aren’t the only ones you’re learning about today. There are actually two types here — reciprocal and reflexive verbs.
Reflexive verbs are actions that you do to yourself, like “divertirsi,” which means “ to have fun.”
Reciprocal verbs are verbs that require some kind of reciprocal action, like “we met each other,” which can be translated as “incontrarsi.”
The latter is typically lumped into the same camp as the former, which is fair because they’re structured the same way in the past tense.
Ooookay, I hear you. Enough grammar explanation. How is this stuff done?
How to Conjugate Reflexive & Reciprocal Verbs in the Past Tense
To do this, you need to know the following:
— How to conjugate verbs in the past tense
— How to conjugate the verb “essere – to be”
Let’s take a romantic reflexive verb as an example: baciarsi – to kiss each other
The sentence we’ll translate is: They kissed each other right away. It was love at first sight.
Step 1. What’s the reflexive pronoun you need? Since it’s “they” as the subject, you use “si.”
Step 2. What’s the conjugation of “essere” that you need? Since it’s “they,” you use “sono.”
Step 3. How does the ending of “baciato” change? Since it’s plural and masculine, it ends in a -i.
Si sono baciati subito. È stato un colpo di fulmine.
Here’s what the verb chart would look like.
— Mi sono baciato/a
— Ti sei baciato/a
— Si è baciato/a
— Ci siamo baciati/e
— Vi siete baciati/e
— Si sono baciati/e
— Mi sono baciata con un mio amico! – I kissed my friend!
— Ti sei baciato con il tuo professore? È uno scandalo! – You kissed your professor? It’s so scandalous!
— Non ci siamo baciati fino al terzo appuntamento. – We didn’t kiss until our third date.
Let’s go again (because more examples equals more fun, right?)
Verb: Mettersi – To put on (oneself), to wear
Sentence: I wore that red dress, you know it, the long one.
Step 1. What reflexive pronoun do you need? Since it’s first person and singular, you would use “mi.”
Step 2. How is “essere” conjugated? First person & singular = Sono
Step 3. What’s the ending for the past participle “messo?” Assuming this is a girl, we’ll end “messo” with an -a.
Mi sono messa quel vestito, lo sai, quello lungo.
Here’s the verb chart.
— Mi sono messo/a
— Ti sei messo/a
— Si è messo/a
— Ci siamo messi/e
— Vi siete messi/e
— Si sono messi/e
— Ti sei messo quella giacca? Non ti rende affatto attraente. – You wore that jacket? It doesn’t look good on you at all.
— Si sono messi le loro divise. – They wore their uniforms.
— Si è messa una gonna moltooooo aderente. – She wore a realllly tight skirt.
There are other fun ways to use the verb “mettersi.” Read about them here.
Now I could go on & on with lots of other verbs, which would be entertaining for me but not as useful for you in terms of putting this stuff into practice.
Instead, here’s an exercise where you can fill in the blanks. The answers are at the end. (No peeking. Well, I mean, I can’t stop you. But it’s probably better for learning not to look.)
1 – A che ora _____ _____ alzato stamattina? – What time did you wake up this morning?
2 – _____ _____ fermata al bar per un caffè. – I stopped at the bar for a coffee.
3 – Dove _____ _____ incontrati? – Where did you all meet?
4 – Si _____ _____ al Colosseo? – Did she have fun at the Coliseum?
5 – Ieri sera mi _____ _____ male. – I felt sick last night.
SHOW ME THE ANSWERS
1 – A che ora ti sei alzato/a stamattina? – What time did you wake up this morning?
2 – Mi sono fermata al bar per un caffè. – I stopped at the bar for a coffee.
3 – Dove vi siete incontrati/e? – Where did you all meet?
4 – Si è divertita al Colosseo? – Did she have fun at the Coliseum?
5 – Ieri sera mi sono sentito/a male. – I felt sick last night.
Have questions? Leave a comment below!