Welcome to our post about Reflexive Verbs in Spanish (“Verbos reflexivos”).
In this post, we will go through the following points:
- What are Reflexive Verbs?
- How to recognize Reflexive Verbs in Spanish
- List of frequent Reflexive Verbs
- Conjugating Reflexive Verbs
- Placement of Reflexive Pronouns in the sentence
- 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 Verbs Non-reflexive verbs
3. List of frequent reflexive verbs
Here is a list of frequent Reflexive Verbs and their translation to English:
Acordarse to remember
Acostarse to go to bed
Bañarse to bathe
Casarse to get married
Despertarse to wake up
Dormirse to fall asleep
Enterarse to find out
Imaginarse to imagine
Irse to leave
Lavarse to wash oneself
Levantarse to get up
Llamarse to be called
Ponerse to put on
Quedarse to stay
Reunirse to get together
Sentarse to sit down
Sentirse to feel
Volverse to 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:
Person Reflexive Pronoun
él, ella, usted se
ellos, ellas, ustedes se
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:
Person Ducharse (Present Tense)
yo me ducho
tú te duchas
él, ella, usted se ducha
nosotros nos duchamos
vosotros os ducháis
ellos, ellas, ustedes se 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:
Person Ducharse (Preterite Tense)
yo me duché
tú te duchaste
él, ella, usted se duchó
nosotros nos duchamos
vosotros os duchasteis
ellos, ellas, ustedes se 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:
¡Dúchate! = Go shower yourself!
¡Levántate! = Get up!
No puedo concentrarme. = I can’t concentrate
Relajarse aquí es imposible. = It’s impossible to relax here
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.
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
Marta se ha casado = Marta has got married.
Nos hemos levantado temprano = We have got up early
Yo me fui de la fiesta = I left the party
Mis amigos se emborracharon = My friends got drunk
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
¿Te acordarás? = Will you remember?
Os enteraréis de algo increíble = You guys will find out about something incredible.
Concéntrate = Concentrate yourself
Poneos la ropa = Put on your clothes (you guys)
Sentaos = Sit down (you guys)
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