Welcome to our post about Reflexive Verbs in Spanish (“Verbos reflexivos”).

In this post, we will go through the following points:

  1. What are Reflexive Verbs?
  2. How to recognize Reflexive Verbs in Spanish
  3. List of frequent Reflexive Verbs
  4. Conjugating Reflexive Verbs
  5. Placement of Reflexive Pronouns in the sentence
  6. More examples in many Tenses

1. What are reflexive Verbs?

Reflexive Verbs are verbs whose subject and object are the same. In other words, the subject of the verb does something “to himself”, rather than to something or someone else.

For instance, take the English sentence “I introduce myself”. In that sentence, the person is both the subject and the object of the verb. He introduces something, and that something is… himself.



2. How to recognize reflexive verbs in Spanish

During your process of learning Spanish, at some point you start learning and incorporating Reflexive Verbs to your vocabulary.

Very quickly you realize that Reflexive Verbs are easy to recognize. How? Very easy: their impersonal infinitive form has the particle “se” attached to it at the end.

Look at the following table, where we have written 3 verbs that are reflexive, and then 3 verbs that are not reflexive. Notice the particle “se” in the Reflexive Verbs:

Reflexive VerbsNon-reflexive verbs
ducharsehablar
levantarsecomer
concentrarsetrabajar

3. List of frequent reflexive verbs

Here is a list of frequent Reflexive Verbs and their translation to English:

SpanishEnglish
Acordarseto remember
Acostarseto go to bed
Bañarseto bathe
Casarseto get married
Despertarseto wake up
Dormirseto fall asleep
Enterarseto find out
Imaginarseto imagine
Irseto leave
Lavarseto wash oneself
Levantarseto get up
Llamarseto be called
Ponerseto put on
Quedarseto stay
Reunirseto get together
Sentarseto sit down
Sentirseto feel
Volverseto become

You may have noticed that many actions of our daily routine are reflexive (“to get up”, “to shower”…). In our vocabulary section we have this post where you can learn more vocabulary about daily activities.

4. Conjugating reflexive verbs

To conjugate reflexive verbs, you need to learn the Reflexive Pronoun for each person. Here is the list:

Reflexive Pronouns

PersonReflexive Pronoun
yome
te
él, ella, ustedse
nosotrosnos
vosotrosos
ellos, ellas, ustedesse

Where do you have to place those Reflexive Pronouns? For almost all the tenses, you need to place them right before the verb (but not attached to it).

Take the verb “Ducharse” (to shower). This is how we conjugate it in Present Tense:

PersonDucharse (Present Tense)
yome ducho
te duchas
él, ella, ustedse ducha
nosotrosnos duchamos
vosotrosos ducháis
ellos, ellas, ustedesse duchan

See what we did? For each person, we wrote first its respective reflexive pronoun, and then we conjugated “duchar” like we would conjugate any other verb.

We would do the same for most tenses. For example, in Preterite Tense:

PersonDucharse (Preterite Tense)
yome duché
te duchaste
él, ella, ustedse duchó
nosotrosnos duchamos
vosotrosos duchasteis
ellos, ellas, ustedesse ducharon

5. Placement of reflexive pronouns in the sentence

As you have learned, the placement of Reflexive Pronouns is, for most tenses, right before the verb. 

However, there are exceptions where the pronoun goes after the verb, attached to it. They are:

Positive imperative:

¡Dúchate! = Go shower yourself!

¡Levántate! = Get up!

Infinitive:

No puedo concentrarme. = I can’t concentrate

Relajarse aquí es imposible. = It’s impossible to relax here

Gerund:

Estoy lavándome los dientes = I am washing my teeth

Mis padres están vistiéndose = My parents are getting dressed

Here is a post where you can learn more about the placement of these and other personal pronouns.

6. More examples in many tenses

Read these examples carefully, paying attention specially at the placement of the pronouns. As we said, for most tenses they go right before the verb.

Present Tense

Yo me canso muy rápido = I get tired very quickly.

¿Cómo te sientes? = How do you feel?

Hoy nos quedamos en casa = Today we stay home

Present Perfect

Marta se ha casado = Marta has got married.

Nos hemos levantado temprano = We have got up early

Preterite

Yo me fui de la fiesta = I left the party

Mis amigos se emborracharon = My friends got drunk

Imperfect

Cuando éramos jóvenes, nos acostábamos muy tarde = When we were young, we went to bed very late

Me imaginaba algo diferente = I figured something different

Simple future

¿Te acordarás? = Will you remember?

Os enteraréis de algo increíble = You guys will find out about something incredible.

Positive Imperative

Concéntrate = Concentrate yourself

Poneos la ropa = Put on your clothes (you guys)

Sentaos = Sit down (you guys)

Negative Imperative

No os preocupéis = Don’t you guys worry

No te quejes = Don’t complain

Containing a Gerund

Estoy duchándome = I am showering

Estamos lavándonos las manos = We are washing our hands

Containing an Infinitive

Quiero acostarme = I wanna go to bed

No podemos concentrarnos = We can’t concentrate 

Mis padres van a quejarse = My parents are going to complain

 

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Categorías: Spanish Grammar