Spanish Grammar: Reflexive Verbs

Spanish Grammar: Reflexive Verbs

Creative Commons Image via The LEAF Project

Identify:

Spanish Grammar: Reflexive Verbs
la gramática española: los verbos reflexivos

  • Communicates action in a sentence.
  • Directs an action back to its source.

Study:

Reflexive verbs are used when the subject and object of a sentence are the same!

In Spanish there are reflexive verbs, and normal verbs. Reflexive verbs are verbs with the standard AR, ER, and IR endings PLUS another ending, SE, attached to the end.

The SE part of reflexive verbs means “to oneself”.

lavar : to wash

Yo lavo el perro.
I wash the dog.

Note that the subject (I), action (WASH), and the object/recipient (DOG) are all different.

lavarse : to wash oneself

Yo me lavo.
I wash myself.

Note that the SE comes off the verb and becomes ME in order to indicate that the subject (I), and the action (WASH), is being done to myself (ME).

Here are some common reflexive verbs. See how they are all actions that you do to “yourself”. You are the originator and the recipient of the action! (Also note the non-reflexives, here for comparison!)

despertarse : to wake oneself up
despertar : to wake up

levantarse : to get oneself up
levantar : to get up

ducharse : to shower oneself
duchar : to shower

bañarse : to bathe oneself
bañar : to bathe

afeitarse : to shave oneself
afeitar : to shave

maquillarse : to put makeup on oneself
maquillar : to put makeup on

vestirse : to dress oneself
vestir : to dress

What about someone else, or a group of people? We use a group of REFLEXIVE PRONOUNS in order to identify “who” is doing “what” to “themselves”.

ME : to myself
TE : to yourself
SE : to him/her/yourself
NOS : to ourselves
OS : to yourselves (familiar)
SE : to themselves/yourselves

See the examples in the ADAPT section for more details.

Adapt:

¿A qué hora se levanta usted?
What time do you get up?

¿Dónde le gusta divertirse?
Where do you like to go to have fun?

¿Quién se baña por la noche?
Who bathes themselves at night?

¿Cómo se despierta ella tan temprano?
How does she wake up so early?

¿Cuándo se despiden ellos?
When will they say goodbye?

¿Por qué se toma tanto tiempo para arreglarse?
Why does it take so long to get ready?

¿Cuánto tiempo dura para maquillarse?
How long does it take to put on makeup?

¿Cuál es la mejor manera para estirarse?
What is the best way to stretch?

Explore: