Reflexive se, si

The particle se with a verb can be assigned the following afuns: AuxT, Obj, AuxR.

The particle si with a verb can be assigned the following functors: AuxT, Obj, Adv, AuxO.

The assignment of these functions is determined by the verbs in question. With many verbs more than a single assignment is possible, and the final decision is to be made on the basis of the given context.

Both particles are suspended on the verb to which they belong, irrespective of the function they carry.

If a noun is derived from the given verb (snažit to trysnažení trying), the particles are always assigned afun Atr without regard to what kind of afun they would get if they were attached to the source verb.

Reflexive se

SE 1 This is a case of “reflexivum tantum”, AuxT: the verb does not occur without the particle or if the particle is taken away, the verb has a different meaning: bojí se s/he-is-afraid, snaží se s/he-tries, směje se s/he-laughs, setkali se they-met.

The same solution is accepted for some derivatives of the “manner of the action”: nadřel se he-drudged.

SE 2 The particle se is an object (Obj), sometimes this function is evident:

  1. vidí se (sebe, ne Jendu) v zrcadle he sees himself (not Jenda) in the mirror,

  2. myje se (sebe, ne děti) he washes himself (not the children), brání se (sebe, ne vlast) he defends himself (not his country),

  3. in a reciprocal meaning (mutually, each other): líbají se (navzájem) they kiss themselves, odloučili se (od sebe navzájem) they left each other.

If the construction corresponds to the condition under SE 1, the particle se is assigned afun AuxT and the possibility to assign it an Obj is not taken into account.

SE 3 This is the case of reflexive pasive, assigned AuxR, with both transitive and intransitive verbs:

  1. tancovalo se až do rána they/we danced until morning, šlo se cestou necestou they/we went through thick and thin,

  2. v novinách se píše o projevu in newspapers they write about the speech, diskutovalo se o objevu a discovery was discussed, přirozený jazyk se popisuje formálními prostředky natural language is described by formal means,

  3. a colloquial use: občané se vyzývají, aby se dostavili the citizens are asked to come (the subject is animate)

  4. a construction of “disposition” (medio-passive): matematika se mu studuje lehce mathematics is easy to study for him, v téhle troubě se dobře peče it is easy to bake in this oven, ta kniha se snadno prodává the book sells well,

  5. also causatives of the following type belong here: léčím se u prof. Myslivečka I undergo medical treatment at prof. Mysliveček, holí se/stříhá se v Šarmu he shaves (himself)/has his haircut in Šarm, obléká se u Nehery he dresses (himself) at Nehera.

SE 4 This particle has a similar function as a derivational suffix (in case of an unconscious action); a replacement by an object is less evident and a decision is to be made between Obj and AuxR:

  1. Obj with an unconscious action: zabil se he got killed, utopil se he got drowned,

  2. otherwise AuxR is assigned: dveře se otvírají the door opens, vlny se šíří všemi směry the waves propagate, napětí se snižuje the voltage drops down.

We use the codition (1) only if the situation is completely clear.

SE 5 If a noun is derived from the given verb (snažit to trysnažení trying), the particles are always assigned afun Atr: snažení se trying, mytí se washing, utopení se drowning.

Reflexive si

SI 1 This is an analogy to SE 1: AuxT is assigned only with the dative si: pospíšit si to hurry up, vážit si to respect something/somebody, postesknout si to complain, pamatovat si to remember.

SI 2 The reflexive pronoun is Obj:

  1. přečíst si (sobě) to read (for oneself), říkat si to ask for, stanovit si to prescribe (to oneself)

  2. reciprocal use: slibovali si (navzájem) they-promised to each other, posloužili si (navzájem) they helped (each other), přísahali si they swore (to each other).

SI 3 This is an analogy to SE 4, but we have decided to assign Adv in those cases in which si has the function of a free dative (dative of benefit); a paraphase by for oneself or by one's is possible: upevnit si (postavení) to strengthen one's position, upravovat si (vlasy) to set one's hair, brousit si (zuby) set one's heart upon, vydělat si (peníze) to earn money, uchovat si (postavení) to keep (one's position).

SI 4 In this function, si is assigned AuxO; it is somewhat superflous, and can be deleted without a loss of meaning or grammaticality: jít si na výlet to go for a trip, mazat si to domů to hurry home, počkat si na někoho to have to wait for somebody, už si odpracoval dvě hodiny he has already worked off two hours.

SI 5 In case of derivations from verbs, the derived nouns are assigned afun Atr: postesknutí si complaining, posloužení si serving (oneself), vydělání si earning (for oneself).