Spanish Reflexive Verbs

Spanish Reflexive Verbs

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

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.

Learning about Spanish Reflexive Verbs requires learning a very easy set of Reflexive Pronouns, as well as their placement in the sentence.


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


1. 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 present 3 reflexive verbs, next to 3 verbs that are not reflexive. Notice the particle se attached at the end of Reflexive Verbs:

Reflexive VerbsNon-reflexive verbs
ducharsehablar
levantarsecomer
concentrarsetrabajar


2. 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.


3. Conjugating Spanish Reflexive Verbs

In order to conjugate Reflexive Verbs, we need to learn a set of Reflexive Pronouns, one for each person. Find them in the following blue box:

Reflexive Pronouns

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


In almost all 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


4. Where to place Reflexive Pronouns in the sentence

As we just explained, Reflexive Pronouns are placed, in most tenses, right before the conjugated verb. 

For example, here are some sentences in Present Tense:

Siempre me ducho por la mañana.
I always shower in the morning.

¿Cuántas veces al día te lavas los dientes?
How many times a day do you clean your teeth?

Ellos se acuestan temprano.
They go to bed early.


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

Infinitive Form:

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 (Imperative Mood):

¡Dúchate!
Go shower!

¡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.


5. More Example Sentences with Reflexive Verbs in many tenses

Next we will read more sentences which include Reflexive Verbs conjugated in different tenses:


Spanish Reflexive Verbs in 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.


In Present Perfect:

Marta se ha casado.
Marta has got married.

Nos hemos levantado temprano.
We have got up early.


In Preterite Tense:

Yo me fui de la fiesta.
I left the party.

Mis amigos se emborracharon.
My friends got drunk.


In Imperfect Tense:

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


In 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 form:

Estoy duchándome.
I am showering

Estamos lavándonos las manos.
We are washing our hands


Sentences containing an Infinitive form:

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.


6. Practice: A Quiz

Take this short Quiz to test your knowledge about Spanish Reflexive Verbs:


7. Practice: An Exercise

A child talks about the daily routine of him and his family. Fill the gaps in your mind or on a piece of paper using Reflexive Verbs in Present Tense. Then check the solutions at the end of this post.

Todos los días entre semana, mis padres _____ 1.(levantarse) a las seis y yo _____ 2.(levantarse) a las siete.
Yo _____ 3.(ducharse) con agua caliente. En cambio, mi hermano prefiere ______ 4. (ducharse) con agua fría. ¡Dice que le gusta más así!
A las ocho, mi hermano y yo _____ 5.(irse) juntos al colegio en autobús.
Por la noche, normalmente _____ 6.(acostarse, yo) bastante temprano, pero hoy es diferente: Hoy todos vamos a _____ 7.(acostarse) a las doce, porque tenemos una cena familiar. 

Solutions to the Exercise: 1 = se levantan, 2 = me levanto, 3 = me ducho, 4 = ducharse, 5 = nos vamos, 6 = me acuesto, 7 = acostarnos