Pronominal verbs are verbs that include pronouns. These pronouns are me, te, se, nous, and vous and are used as either direct objects or indirect objects, depending on the verb that they modify. When pronominal verbs are conjugated in perfect tenses, être is used as the auxiliary verb.
The following table shows which reflexive pronoun to use with each form of the verb:
il, elle, on
Reflexive verbs reflect the action on the subject.
Je me lave. - I wash myself.
Nous nous lavons. - We wash ourselves.
Ils se lavent. - They wash themselves.
Reflexive verbs can also be used as infinitives.
Je vais me laver. - I'm going to wash myself.
Either the conjugated verb or the infinitive can be negated each with slightly different meanings.
Je ne vais pas me laver. - I'm not going to wash myself.
Je vais ne pas me laver. - I'm going to not wash myself (for some period of time, e.g.).
In perfect tenses, the past participles agree with the direct object pronoun, but not the indirect object pronoun, in gender and plurality. Therefore it would only agree when the reflexive pronoun is the direct object. Also remember that the past participle does not agree with the direct object if it goes after the verb.
Elle s'est lavée. - She washed herself.
Nous nous sommes lavé(e)s. - We washed ourselves.
Elle s'est lavé les mains. - She washed her hands.
Nous nous sommes lavé les mains. - We washed our hands.
Here is an example conjugation of a reflexive verb:
^1. The futur simple, passé simple, imperfect, conditional and subjunctive are all conjugated with the reflexive pronoun in the same position as in the present.
^2. All reflexive verbs take être in the passé composé and therefore have an e added to the past participle for females and an s for plural.
^3. When a reflexive verb is put as an infinitive behind any other verb (e.g. vouloir, pouvoir, aller...) it still takes the appropriate reflexive pronoun.
With reciprocal verbs, people perform actions to each other.
Nous nous aimons. - We like each other.
Like reflexive verbs, the past participle of reciprocal verbs agrees in number and gender with the direct object if it goes before the verb. It therefore agrees with all reciprocal pronouns that function as direct objects.
Nous nous sommes aimé(e)s. - We liked each other.
The reciprocal pronoun can also function as an indirect object without a direct object pronoun.
Nous nous sommes parlé. - We spoke to each other.
Elles se sont téléphoné. - They telephoned one another.
Vous vous êtes écrit souvent? - You wrote to each other often?
Naturally pronominal verbs
Some verbs are pronominal without performing a reflexive or reciprocal action.
Tu te souviens? - Do you remember?
In perfect tenses, these verbs agree with the direct object if it goes before the verb. Otherwise, the past participle agrees with the subject.
Elle s'est souvenue. - She remembered.
Some verbs have different meanings as pronominal verbs.