Reflexive Verbs in Spanish

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

We will study 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. I introduce someone, and that someone is… myself.

 

2. How to recognize Reflexive Verbs in Spanish

Reflexive Verbs are easy to recognize: Their infinitive form has the particle “se” attached at the end.

In the following table we have 3 verbs that are reflexive, and 3 verbs that are not reflexive. Notice the particle “se” attached at the end of 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

Many actions of our daily routine are reflexive (“to get up”, “to shower”…).  Click here if you wish to learn more verbs and phrases about daily routine.

 

4. Conjugating reflexive verbs

In order to conjugate Reflexive Verbs, we first need to learn a Reflexive Pronoun for each person:

Reflexive Pronouns

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

For almost all the tenses, you need to place these Reflexive Pronouns right before the conjugated verb.

 

For example, let’s conjugate «ducharse» in Present tense.

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

Following the same logic, here is the conjugation of «ducharse» 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 we have explained, the placement of Reflexive Pronouns is, for most tenses, right before the conjugated verb. 

However, there are exceptions where the Reflexive Pronoun goes after the verb, attached to it. These exceptions are:

 

Infinitive:

No puedo concentrarme. = I can’t concentrate

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

 

Gerundio:

Estoy lavándome los dientes = I am washing my teeth

Mis padres están vistiéndose = My parents are getting dressed

 

Affirmative Commands in Imperative Mood:

¡Dúchate! = Go shower yourself!

¡Levantaos! = Get up! (you guys)

Note: When attaching the Reflexive Pronouns «os« at the end of an Affirmative Command, the verb form loses the final «d». That’s why it is «levantaos«, and not «levantados«.

If you wish to explore the Placement of Personal Pronouns more in detail, click here to read our lesson about Personal Pronouns Placement.

 

6. More examples in many tenses

Here are more examples of Sentences which include Reflexive Verbs conjugated in different tenses:

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.

Affirmative Commands in Imperative Mood

Concéntrate = Concentrate yourself

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

Sentaos = Sit down (you guys)

Negative Commands in Imperative Mood

No os preocupéis = Don’t you guys worry

No te quejes = Don’t complain

Sentences containing a Gerundio

Estoy duchándome = I am showering

Estamos lavándonos las manos = We are washing our hands

Sentences 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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