In the first sentence, it is me being happy and in other sentence, she is happy. "freuen" is self-reflexive verb. So using "mich" in first sentence is understandable. Why don't we use self-reflexive "sich" verb in second sentencec? Again, here why it is used, "dich" instead of "du" or "Sie"?

It makes me happy to see you in the party.

"Es freut mich, Sie auf der Party zu sehen."

It makes her happy to see you in the party.

"Es freut sie, dich auf der Party zu sehen."

  • Transitive meaning: to make happy; reflexive meaning: to be happy.
    – RDBury
    Commented Nov 21, 2020 at 14:15
  • @RDBury it's not clear to me what your comment helps to understand the problem.
    – Wolf
    Commented Nov 22, 2020 at 13:47
  • @Wolf -- I was trying to say that the two forms have different meanings which is why you'd use one form in some situations and the other form in others. That was, I think, part of the question even it wasn't the main issue.
    – RDBury
    Commented Nov 22, 2020 at 16:43

3 Answers 3


The verb is reflexive when used with the happy person as the subject, not when used with the cause for the happiness. In your examples, the subject is "es", later explained in the relative clause (seeing someone at a party).

So your examples are correct, but another version with a the verb reflexive would be:

Ich freue mich, ihn auf der Party zu sehen.

Sie freut sich, ihn auf der Party zu sehen.


The verb freuen can be used reflexive and transitive [1]

The way you are using it in both examples is transitive. As RalfFriedl already explained, es is the subject, whereas the person that is (or becomes) happy is the accusative object.

However the reflexive freuen still opens another option not already discussed, it is used with the preposition auf which demands an accusative object, and is used to express joyful expectation:

Ich freue mich auf das Ende der Epidemie.

In English:

I look forward to the end of the epidemic.

[1] See freuen - Wiktionary


In both cases you did not use a reflexive construction, but like in English, something made me or her happy, and both are simple Akkusativ objects:

Es freut mich, ...

Es freut sie, ...

It is a little more formal. Usually you would say, using the reflexive form »sich freuen«:

Ich freue mich, ...

Sie freut sich, ...

which translates to I'm happy to ... and She's happy to ...

Also note the difference between »sie« and »sich« in the two sentences concerning her.

  • 2
    so your second pair of examples show the reflexive usage. I think it could help to make this a bit more obvious (preferable by explicitly using the word reflexive).
    – Wolf
    Commented Nov 22, 2020 at 13:42

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