Spanish Reflexive Verbs – Learn and Practice

Welcome 😊 to our grammar lesson on Spanish reflexive verbs (“verbos reflexivos”).

Most 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

By the end of this lesson, you will be able to use reflexive verbs properly in sentences.

You will also find a Quiz and Exercises to practice. Let’s start!

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:

VerbMeaning
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

Notice that many actions of our daily routine are expressed 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 for each person:

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



Where do we place these reflexive pronouns? In most tenses, right before the verb.

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

 ducharse (Present Tense)

to shower

yome ducho
te duchas
él, ella, ustedse ducha
nosotrosnos duchamos
vosotrosos ducháis
ellos, ellas, ustedesse duchan

Notice that what we conjugate is duchar, which is the verb itself. The attached particle se simply indicates that the verb is reflexive, so we need to also place our reflexive pronouns.


And here is the conjugation of ducharse in Preterite Tense:

 ducharse (Preterite Tense)

to shower

yome duché
te duchaste
él, ella, ustedse duchó
nosotrosnos duchamos
vosotrosos duchasteis
ellos, ellas, ustedesse ducharon

Placement of reflexive pronouns in the sentence

In most tenses: right before the verb

As we just explained, in most tenses, we place the reflexive pronoun right before the verb. Examples:

Present Tense

Yo siempre me ducho por la mañana.
I always 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.

Ellos se quedan en casa hoy.
They stay home today.


Present Perfect

Marta se ha casado.
Marta has gotten married.

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


Preterite Tense

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

Los estudiantes se concentraron.
The students concentrated.


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 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 form:

No puedo concentrarme.
I can’t concentrate.

Relajarse aquí es imposible.
Relaxing here is impossible.

Quiero acostarme.
I want to go to bed.

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


Gerundio form:

Mis padres están vistiéndose.
My parents are getting dressed.

Estamos lavándonos las manos.
We are washing our hands.


Affirmative Commands

¡Dúchate!
Take a shower!

¡Levantaos!
Get up! (you guys)

Ponte la ropa.
Put your clothes on.

Sentaos.
Sit down. (you guys)


When we have 2 verbs combined

In the case where we have 2 verbs combined in the following way

  • The first verb a normal verb such as “querer, estar…”
  • The second verb a reflexive verb in Infinitive or Gerundio form

… then we have the freedom to place the reflexive pronoun either before the first verb, or attached at the end of the reflexive 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 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 in Present Tense for the given person. Click on the gray spaces to see the solutions:

1) yo me relajo (relajarse)
2) tú te mueves (moverse)
3) él se sienta (sentarse)
4) nosotros nos vestimos (vestirse)
5) vosotros os concentráis (concentrarse)
6) ellos se peinan (peinarse)

Exercise 3

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

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

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

2) Nosotros nos reunimos todos los viernes. (reunirse)
We meet every Friday.

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

4) María se siente bien hoy. (sentirse)
Maria is feeling good today.

Exercise 4

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

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

2) Estamos bañándonos . (bañarse)
We are taking a bath.

3) Vosotros vais a lavaros la cara. (lavarse)
You guys are going to wash your faces.

4) Antonio, ¡ levántate ! (levantarse)
Antonio, get up!

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:

1) Todos los días, mis padres se levantan a las seis. (levantarse)
Every day, my parents get up at six o’clock.

2) Yo me levanto a las siete. (levantarse)
I get up at seven.

3) Yo me ducho con agua caliente. (ducharse)
I shower with hot water.

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

5) A las ocho, mi hermano y yo nos vamos juntos al colegio. (irse)
At eight o’clock, my brother and I leave for school together.

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