Spanish Reflexive Verbs

Learn and Practice Spanish Reflexive Verbs

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

Reflexive Verbs are those where the subject and object are the same. In other words, the subject does something “to himself”.

Two sentences with Spanish reflexive verbs
Two sentences with reflexive verbs

In this lesson we’ll explain how to conjugate and how to use Spanish Reflexive Verbs, providing example sentences.

At the end you’ll find a Quiz and Exercises for practice.

How to recognize reflexive verbs

Reflexive verbs are easy to recognize: we see the particle se attached at the end of their infinitive form.

The following table shows 3 reflexive verbs, and also 3 verbs that are not reflexive.

Notice the particle se at the end of reflexive verbs:

Reflexive VerbsNon-reflexive verbs
ducharsehablar
levantarsecomer
concentrarsetrabajar

List of reflexive verbs

Here is a list of common reflexive verbs:

SpanishEnglish
acercarseto get closer
acordarseto remember
acostarseto go to bed
alejarseto move away
afeitarseto shave
atreverseto dare
bañarseto bathe
casarseto get married
concentrarseto concentrate
desvestirseto get undressed
despertarseto wake up
dormirseto fall asleep
ducharseto shower
enamorarseto fall in love
enfadarseto get angry
enterarseto find out
expresarseto express oneself
imaginarseto imagine, to figure
irseto leave a place
lavarseto wash oneself
levantarseto get up
llamarseto be called
ponerseto put clothes on / to become
preocuparseto worry
preguntarseto wonder
quedarseto stay
quitarseto take clothes off
reunirseto get together
sentarseto sit down
sentirseto feel some way
volverseto become
vestirseto get dressed

As you may notice, we express many actions of our daily routine with reflexive verbs (“to get up”, “to shower”…).

Conjugation

In order to conjugate reflexive verbs, we need to learn a set of reflexive pronouns, one pronoun for each person:

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



When we conjugate a reflexive verb, in most tenses, we need to place the reflexive pronoun right before the verb.

For example, this is the conjugation of ducharse in Present Tense:

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


And here is the conjugation of ducharse in Preterite Tense:

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

Placement of reflexive pronouns in the sentence

For most tenses: right before the verb

As we just explained, for most tenses, we place reflexive pronouns right before the verb.

Examples:

Present Tense

Yo siempre me ducho por la mañana.
I always take a shower in the morning.

¿Cuántas veces te lavas los dientes?
How many times do you brush your teeth?

Ella se acuesta temprano.
She goes to bed early.

Nosotros nos cansamos muy rápido.
We get tired very fast.

¿Cómo os sentís?
How do guys feel?

Ellos se quedan casa hoy.
They stay home today.


Present Perfect

Marta se ha casado.
Marta has married.

Nosotros nos hemos levantado temprano.
We have gotten up early.


Preterite Tense

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

Mis amigos se emborracharon.
My friends got drunk.


Imperfect Tense

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

Me imaginaba algo diferente.
I imagined something different.


Future Tense

¿Te acordarás?
Will you remember?

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


Negative Commands

No te quejes.
Don’t complain.

No os preocupéis.
Don’t you guys worry.


In the Infinitive, Gerundio or Affirmative Commands: attached at the end of the verb


There are 3 cases where we attach reflexive pronouns at the end of the verb:

Infinitive

No puedo concentrarme.
I can’t concentrate.

Relajarse aquí es imposible.
Relaxing here is impossible.

Quiero acostarme.
I want to go to bed.

No podemos concentrarnos.
We can’t concentrate.

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


Gerundio

Estoy lavándome los dientes.
I am brushing my teeth.

Mis padres están vistiéndose.
My parents are getting dressed.

Estoy duchándome.
I’m taking a shower.

Estamos lavándonos las manos.
We are washing our hands.


Affirmative Commands

¡Dúchate!
Take a shower!

¡Levantaos!
Get up! (you guys)

Concentraos.
Concentrate. (you guys)

Ponte la ropa.
Put your clothes on.

Sentaos.
Sit down. (you guys)

Note: When we attach “os” at the end of an Affirmative Command, the command loses its final “d”. That’s why it is “levantaos“, and not levantados.


Placement with 2 verbs combined

In the case where we have 2 verbs combined as a “team”, with the second verb (the reflexive one) being in Infinitive or Gerundio, we have the freedom to choose:

We can either place the reflexive pronoun before the first verb, or attached at the end of the second verb.

Examples:

Me quiero duchar.
Quiero ducharme.
Both sentences mean “I want to take a shower”.


Te estás lavando los dientes.
Estás lavándote los dientes.
Both sentences mean “You are brushing your teeth”.

Practice

Quiz

Take this short Quiz about Spanish Reflexive Verbs!:


Exercise 1

Which of the following verbs are reflexive?

bailar
trabajar
relajarse
moverse
continuar

Solution: Only “relajarse” and “moverse” are reflexive, because “se” is attached at the end.


Exercise 2

Conjugate the following reflexive verbs for the specific person:

yo __ ___ 1.(relajarse)
__ ___ 2.(moverse)
él __ ___ 3.(sentarse)
nosotros __ ___ 4.(vestirse)
vosotros __ ___ 5.(concentrarse)
ellos __ ___ 6.(peinarse)

Solutions:
1) me relajo
2) tu mueves
3) se sienta
4) nos vestimos
5) os concentráis
6) se peinan


Exercise 3

In this exercise we practice sentences where the reflexive pronoun goes before the verb.

Fill the gaps conjugating the reflexive verbs in brackets in Present Tense:

Mis amigos siempre __ ___ 1.(lavarse) los dientes después de comer.
My friends always brush their teeth after eating.

Nosotros __ ___ 2.(reunirse) todos los viernes.
We meet every Friday.

A veces, tú __ ___ 3.(acostarse) tarde.
Sometimes you go to bed late.

María __ ___ 4.(sentirse) bien hoy.
Maria feels good today.

Solutions:
1) se lavan
2) nos reunimos
3) te acuestas
4) se siente


Exercise 4

In this exercise we practice sentences where the reflexive pronoun goes attached at the end of the verb:

No puedo ___ 1.(dormirse).
I can’t fall asleep.

Estamos ___ 2.(bañarse).
We are bathing.

Vosotros vais a ___ 3.(lavarse) la cara.
You are going to wash your face.

Antonio, ¡ ___ 4.(levantarse)!
Antonio, get up!

Solutions:
1) dormirme
2) bañándonos
3) lavaros
4) levántate


Exercise 5

A child talks about his family’s daily routine.

In this exercise we have included sentences where the reflexive pronoun goes before the verb, and others where it goes attached at the end:

Todos los días, mis padres __ ___ 1.(levantarse) a las seis.
Every day my parents get up at six.

Yo __ ___ 2.(levantarse) a las siete.
I get up at seven.

Yo __ ___ 3.(ducharse) con agua caliente.
I shower with hot water.

Mi hermano prefiere ___ 4. (ducharse) con agua fría.
My brother prefers to shower with cold water.

A las ocho, mi hermano y yo __ ___ 5.(irse) juntos al colegio.
At eight, my brother and I go to school together.

Por la noche, normalmente yo __ ___ 6.(acostarse) temprano.
At night, I usually go to bed early.

Pero hoy es diferente: hoy todos vamos a ___ 7.(acostarse) tarde, porque tenemos una cena familiar.
But today is different: today we are all going to bed late, because we have a family dinner.

Solutions:
1) se levantan
2) me levanto
3) me ducho
4) ducharse
5) nos vamos
6) me acuesto
7) acostarnos