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Reflexive verbs

The point of a reflexive pronoun should be explained in comparison with an ordinary verb. When we use non-reflexive verb, we mean the action that is directed by subject to an object (or another subject). Using reflexive verbs, we exclude the first subject and imply that someone or something is making action directed to him/her/itself. I recommend you to read the topic on reflexive pronouns presented in another article, they are closely related.

Let's look at the following example:

Профессор научил студента высшей математике - A professor taught a student advanced mathematics.

Well, the first (active) subject is a professor, the second subject is a student; in this case the action is made by the subject "профессор" towards a student.

Студент научился высшей математике - A student learned advanced mathematics.

As we can see, the first subject (professor) is disappeared in the sentence but action, meanwhile, is remained. In this case, the second subject - a student - learns on his own. That is the difference in meaning between reflexive and non-reflexive verbs. Pay your attention to prepositions, the usage of auxiliary words (in the following examples) and to a grammatical aspect - more specifically, the way the endings of verbs are changing (-ть à -ся). But we can use not all verbs in reflexive form.

You can "учить" [uchit'] (learn) «что», but «учиться [uchit'sya] «чему» or «на кого».
You can "готовить" [gatavit'] «что», but "готовиться" [gatovit'sya] «к чему-то».
You can "причесывать" [prichyosyvat'] «кого», but "причесываться" [prichyosyvat'sya] by yourself.

Examples.

Тренер готовит спортсменов к соревнованиям - A coach trains sportsmen for competitions.
Спортсмены готовятся к соревнованиям - Sportsmen train for competitions.
Солдаты защищают свою страну - Soldiers protect their country.
Страна защищается от врага - A country is protected from an enemy.


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