Reciprocal Verbs

Verbes pronominaux réciproques

French reciprocal verbs
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Reciprocal verbs are a type of pronominal verb, meaning they have both a subject pronoun and a reflexive pronoun. In the case of reciprocal verbs, the reflexive pronoun indicates that the action of the verb is exchanged between two or more subjects acting upon each other.

Par exemple…

Les aigles se regardent.   The eagles are looking at each other.
Nous nous connaissons.   We know each other.
Ils se parlent souvent.   They often talk to one another.

Most common French reciprocal verbs

s’adorer to adore one another / each other
s’aimer to love one another
s’apercevoir to see one another
s’appeler to call one another
se battre to fight with one another
se chercher to look for one another
se comprendre to understand one another
se connaître to know one another
se croiser to cross, pass one another
se détester to hate one another
se dire to tell one another
se disputer to argue with one another over/about
s’écrire to write to one another
s’embrasser to kiss one another
s’entendre to get along, agree with one another
se nuire to harm one another
se parler to talk to one another
se promettre to promise one another
se quereller to quarrel with one another
se quitter to leave one another
se regarder to look at one another
se rencontrer to meet one another
se sourire to smile at one another
se suffire to suffice, be enough for one another
se téléphoner to call one another
se voir to see one another

  Note that most of these verbs can also be reflexive. To stress the reciprocal nature of the verb, you can include something like

  • l’un l’autre – one another
  • mutuellement – mutually
  • réciproquement – reciprocally
  • entre nous/vous/eux – between us/you/them

All of the above verbs require a reflexive pronoun when they indicate that the subjects are acting upon one another. But remember than they can also be used non-reflexively, to express the verb’s action directed at someone or something else (or nothing, in the case of intransitive verbs).

 En comparaison…

Ils se regardent. vs Ils regardent la télé.
They’re looking at each other.
 
  They’re looking at the TV.
 
Vous vous souriez. vs Vous souriez.
You’re smiling at each other.   You’re smiling.

 Reciprocal verbs are just one type of pronominal verb. See the main lesson on pronominal verbs for details on using reciprocal verbs in different tenses and moods.

 Related lessons

Learn Spanish En español

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French reciprocal verbs

 

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