Posso essermi sbagliato.

English Translation

I may have been wrong.

Could someone help explain the construction here?

I do see what it literally means (“I can to/for myself to be wrong”), but I would have thought it would instead have been “potrei avuto essere sbagliato.” Is this a common usage – turning essere into essentially a reflexive verb?

Clearly I am completely flummoxed by this one…

I read this as “I may have been wrong” but I could be wrong;-)

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That’s the given translation, yes. I am trying to better understand the grammar, and si + essere.

Perhaps it is “may” or “might”?

Posso essermi sbagliato = I may have been wrong.

Potrei essermi sbagliato = I might have been wrong.

Plus, using sbagliarsi instead of sbagliare. Perhaps the choice is optional? Maybe more emphatic?

Correct. I understand the translation, and why it might be so. I don’t follow the grammar.

I think the point mentioned by @David755502 is correct.
I don’t think the mi really belongs to essere - or as you put it in your original post, turning essere into a reflexive verb.
I believe that the mi is from sbagliarsi, where that is the reflexive verb.

So the sentence would then be made up of -
Posso esser(e) + mi sbagliato
Then the mi throws itself into the loving arms of essere who willingly sacrifices an “e” in order to make the sound more beautiful.

If the sentence were instead to have used the intransitive form of sbagliare, then it would likely have been translated as Posso aver sbagliato (N.B. the original sentence needs essere to act as the auxiliary for the perfect tense of a reflexive verb).

I’m not sure about the reason for the choice of tense for potere here, and whether the present indicative has some significance instead of using the conditional (for example whether that implies a greater degree of certainty).


Thanks, that makes perfect sense. I was thinking of “sbagliato” as an adjective not a reflexive verb.