Forum Rocket Italian Italian Grammar Are reflexive verbs necessary?

Are reflexive verbs necessary?

JackK15

JackK15

I've been working through lesson 6.10 and as I become more frustrated, I'm asking why do reflexive verbs exist. 
For example:
Si sono svegliati in ritardo.   - They woke themselves up late
Sono hanno svegliato in ritardo -- The woke up late
Does "themselves" add anything to the meaning of the sentence? If they woke up with an alarm clock, the first sentence might be technically incorrect, since it was the alarm and not themselves that did the waking. 
Can I assume that unless I want to practice law in Italy or become the next great Italian novelist, there is no reason to know the reflexive forms of verbs?

Thanks for your advice,

Jack Korpi

 
JackK15

JackK15

And translation in Lesson 6.10 add to the confusion. 

From Flash Cards

They have known each other for many years
 I thought the translation might be:  Loro si sono conosciuti da molti anni or
Loro si conosceranno da molti anni. 

But instead it  is simple present tense: Loro si conoscono da molti anni. 
Which has the intended meaning without the complication of past tenses!
caterina-rocket-italian-tutor

caterina-rocket-italian-tutor

Hi Jack, 

Thank you for your questions and observations!

Concerning the use of reflexive verbs, they are used very often in common/standard Italian language. However, I definitely see how their use is not as straightforward.
Reflexive verbs are (usually) used when the subject of the verb is also the object.

For instance: "Io mi vesto per andare a scuola" = "I dress (myself) to go to school"
In this case, the speaker is both the subject of the action (I dress) and the object (myself). 
Another example: "Io mi sveglio presto la mattina" = "I wake (myself) early in the morning"
In this case, again, the speaker is both the subject (I wake) and the object (myself).

If we were not using the reflexive verb, the meaning would change (or the sentence would not be clear): 
"Io mi vesto per andare a scuola" = "I dress (who? what?) to go to school" --> the object of the action is not specified, the sentence is not clear.
"Io mi sveglio presto la mattina" = "I wake (who?what?) early in the morning" --> the object of the action is not specified, the sentence is not clear.

Hope this clarifies, don't hesitate to let me know if I can help further :)
 

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