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When it comes to reflexive verbs, I always thought that they were only used with actions that make the subject an object, too. Anyway, there are some exceptions to that rule, e.g. se regaler or s'abonner.

While the former comes quite easy to me (the german form is quite similar) and might be related to a passive subject (the food or whatever is the subject in the sentence, but it's not acting actively) I do not understand the latter.

It's "Je m'abonne le chaîne de XY", but I am the subject of the sentence and the channel is the object. Hence there is neither an passive subject (I am doing something actively), nor is the subject identical to the object ("le chaîne" is clearly not identical to me).

I acknowledge that there might be more to reflexive verby than I know, but to me it just does not make sense in that case. Could anybody explain it to me?

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    A good way to think about the pronominal verbs (they're more than reflexive, so that term is problematic) is that they form a class in which the subject is both performing the action and affected by it or performing the action in response of an external stimulus. As the answers indicate, s'abonner is of the first type, while se régaler is of the second – Eau qui dort Mar 5 at 14:44
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    Since you know German, it might help to think of "s'abonner" as analogous to the reflexive form "sich einschreiben". – Andreas Blass Mar 5 at 20:33
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Your reasoning is exact in what concerns « se régaler », as it means "to enjoy oneself doing something" (the English seems to confirm the principle here!); there is no action performed on the subject, which makes things rather annoying; again, this verb means "Au fig. Éprouver une vive satisfaction d'ordre esthétique ou intellectuel." (TLFi); this is the description of a state of mind, not an action; if there is an action it is that of food on your palate, or of pictures on your mind when watching a film; you are then just the recipient of an action; therefore we are in the domain of the idiomatism and not anymore that of functional construction of forms; it is an exception to the principle.

The second instance is not correct; it does involve an action, but the object of the action really is the person doing it; the construction is "s'abonner à" (Je m'abonne à la chaîne X.); "chaîne" is a COI, not a COD.

"S'abonner" means "to impose to yourself certain ties according to the rules of a given organism in such a way as to be the beneficiary of given advantages from that organism". You are, then, performing an action on the "administrative" part of your life, at large, yourself; that's the way to conceive this action upon yourself (the subject).

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Complément à l'autre excellente réponse.

Voir la différence :

"S’abonner à un journal" contre "Je vous ai abonné à ce journal".

Dans le premier c'est moi qui m'y suis abonné; dans le seconde c'est moi qui vous y ai abonné.

http://www.cnrtl.fr/definition/abonner

Voici quelques sources en anglais :

https://www.frenchtoday.com/blog/french-verb-conjugation/french-pronominal-verbs-french-reflexive-reciprocal-verbs-a-summary

https://www.lawlessfrench.com/grammar/pronominal-verbs/

https://www.lawlessfrench.com/grammar/idiomatic-pronominal-verbs/

https://www.lawlessfrench.com/grammar/reflexive-verbs/

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