Spanish Reflexive Verbs

Spanish Reflexive Verbs - Part I: General Concepts

The purpose of this mini-lesson is to give you a general idea about Spanish reflexive verbs. Although the best way to understand any grammar concept is to practice as much as possible, you first need to understand some general ideas.

Spanish Reflexive Verbs

When the subject and direct object are the same in a sentence, the verb is reflexive. In other words, a reflexive verb is a verb in which the action both is performed by and occurs to the subject of the verb. Also, we could say that a reflexive verb expresses that the subject of the sentence carried out an action on itself.

An easy way to recognize these verbs is to pay attention to how it ends. The infinitive form of reflexive verbs always end in -se.

Example
  • Mirarse → To look at yourself. 

The equivalence of these verbs in English are sometimes expressed by words like: to myself, to yourself, to herself, to himself, to itself, to ourselves, to themselves or to each other.

Example
  • Me miro en el espejo. → I look myself at the mirror. 

COMMON SPANISH REFLEXIVE VERBS

SpanishEnglish
Acostarse
To go to bed
Bañarse
To bathe
Despertarse
To wake up
Dormirse
To fall asleep
Ducharse
To take a shower
Levantarse
To get up
Olvidarse
To forget
Peinarse
To brush one's hair
To comb
Vestirse
To get dressed

RECIPROCAL VERBS

Some of these reflexive verbs are reciprocal verbs. Such verbs express an action that is performed on one another or each other.

Example
  • ¿Ustedes se conocen/vosotros os conocéis? → Do you know each other? 

PRONOMINAL VERBS

In addition, some verbs are always conjugated with a reflexive pronoun, even if they do not have a reflexive meaning. They are called pronominal verbs.

Example
  • Atreverse  → To dare. 
  • Quejarse  → To complain.

Reflexive Pronouns

Abreviations: Reflexive pronouns (REFL. PRON.).

SUBJECTREFL. PRON.
Yo
Me (myself)
Te (yourself)
Él/ella/Ud.
Se (himself, herself, itself, yourself)
Nosotros/as
Nos (ourselves)
Vosotros/as
Os (yourselves, each other)
Ellos/as/Uds.
Se (themselves, yourselves, each other)

Placement of the Reflexive Pronouns

BEFORE THE CONJUGATED VERB

Example
  • Él se ducha. → He takes a shower. 

BEFORE OR AFTER THE IMPERATIVE

Example
  • ¡No te duches!  → (You) do not take a shower!  
  • ¡Dúchate! → (You) take a shower! 

BEFORE THE AUXILIARY VERBS OR ATTACHED TO THE END OF THE MAIN VERB

Example
  • Voy a ducharme. → I am going to take a shower. 
  • Me voy a duchar. → I am going to take a shower. 

Continue learning about Spanish reflexive verb, check a list of the most common ones with multiple meanings.


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