Spanish Reflexive Verbs – The Ultimate Guide

Spanish Reflexive Verbs

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

Reflexive Verbs are verbs where the subject and object are the same. In other words, the subject does something “to himself”, rather than to something or someone else.

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

We will do all that in this lesson, and at the end you’ll find a Quiz and an Exercise for practice.

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.

The following table shows 3 reflexive verbs and 3 non-reflexive verbs. 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 English translation:

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

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

3. Conjugating Reflexive Verbs

In order to conjugate Reflexive Verbs, we need to learn a set of Reflexive Pronouns, one for each person. The pronouns are shown in the following table:

Reflexive Pronouns

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


For most tenses, you need to place these Reflexive Pronouns right before the conjugated 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

Following the same logic, 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

4. 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 conjugated verb.

Here are example sentences in several tenses, where we place the reflexive pronouns right before the verb:

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?

Ella se acuesta temprano.
She goes to bed early.

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

¿Cómo os sentís?
How do guys feel?

Hoy se quedan casa.
They stay home today.

Present Perfect:

Marta se ha casado.
Marta has got married.

Nos hemos levantado temprano.
We have got 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 figured something different.

Simple Future:

¿Te acordarás?
Will you remember?

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

Negative Commands:

No os preocupéis.
Don’t you guys worry.

No te quejes.
Don’t complain.


With Infinitive, Gerundio or Affirmative Commands: Attached at the end of the verb


There are only 3 tenses where we place the Reflexive Pronouns attached at the end of the verb: Infinitive, Gerundio and Affirmative commands.

Infinitive:

No puedo concentrarme.
I can’t concentrate.

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

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.

Gerundio:

Estoy lavándome los dientes.
I am washing my teeth.

Mis padres están vistiéndose.
My parents are getting dressed.

Estoy duchándome.
I am showering.

Estamos lavándonos las manos.
We are washing our hands.

Affirmative Commands (Imperative Mood):

¡Dúchate!
Go shower!

¡Levantaos!
Get up! (you guys)

Concentraos.
Concentrate yourselves.

Ponte la ropa.
Put on your clothes.

Sentaos.
Sit down. (you guys)

Note: When we attach “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. Practice Spanish Reflexive Verbs

Quiz

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

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 below.

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