Active Versus Passive Meaning
Many reflexive verbs are produced from non-reflexive verbs by adding the particle -sia. This transformation slightly changes the meaning of the verb—the non-reflexive verb maintains an active meaning, the meaning of an action performed by the subject of the sentence. On the other hand, a corresponding reflexive verb conveys a passive meaning—an action applied onto the subject of the sentence.
For example, the verb zakryvat' means “to close,” as in Direktor zakryl magazin. (The manager closed the store.) The reflexive verb zakryvat'sia also translates into English as “to close,”, but it can only be used when somebody else other than the subject of the sentence does the closing, e.g., Magazin zakryvaetsia v vosem' chasov. (The store closes at eight o'clock.) It is obvious that the store does not close itself; somebody else does the closing. That is why the reflexive verb can be used.
Exercise 4: Producing Reflexive Verbs
Translate the following non-reflexive verbs. Then produce reflexive verbs from them, and translate the verbs you have produced.
Exercise 5: Active or Passive?
Depending on whether the subject of the sentence or someone else is performing the action, choose either a reflexive or a non-reflexive verb to complete each sentence. Remember to put the verb in the appropriate form.
1. Apteka v shest' utra. (otkryvat', otkryvat'sia)
2. Lena okno. (otkryvat', otkryvat'sia)
3. Etot muzej Ermitazh. (nazyvat', nazyvat'sia)
4. Liudi Sankt Peterburg “Piter.” (nazyvat', nazyvat'sia)
5. Professor lektsiiu. (nachinat', nachinat'sia)
6. Fil'm v vosem' chasov. (nachinat', nachinat'sia)
7. Moia rabota v piat' chasov. (zakanchivat', zakanchivat'sia)
8. Pisatel' knigu. (zakanchivat', zakanchivat'sia)
Exercise 6: Paraphrasing Sentences
Paraphrase the sentences below using reflexive verbs. The first sentence has been done for you.
1. Nalogovaia politsiia zakryvaet restoran.
2. Lektor nachinaet doklad.
3. Devochka otkryvaet glaza.
4. Chitatel' zakanchivaet stat'iu.
5. On nazval svoj otel' “Mechta.”
6. Kompaniia “Dom” stroit eto zdanie uzhe desiat' let.
7. On otkroet novoe kafe zavtra.
8. My zakanchivaem etu banku kofe.