Spanish Reflexive Verbs

Common Spanish Reflexive Verbs – Easy Spanish Grammar for Beginners (A1)

Most Common Spanish Reflexive Verbs Table of Contents

List of Most Common Reflexive Verbs in Spanish:

Hola amigos! One of the first things I teach my Spanish students when going over verbs is reflexive verbs or ‘verbos reflexivos.’ After reading this post you will not only understand what these verbs are but also how you can use them in your day to day conversations!

MOST COMMON SPANISH REFLEXIVE VERBS WE TYPICALLY USE TO TALK ABOUT OUR DAY-TO-DAY ROUTINES:

  • acostarse – to lie down
  • bañarse – to bathe
  • cepillarse – to brush
  • ducharse – to shower
  • estirarse – to stretch
  • lavarse – to wash
  • levantarse – to get up
  • llamarse – to call oneself
  • maquillarse – to put make up on
  • mirarse – to look at oneself
  • peinarse – to comb
  • ponerse (la ropa) – to put on (clothes)
  • quitarse (la ropa) – to take off (clothes)
  • rasgarse – to tear (break)
  • secarse – to dry
  • sentarse – to sit
  • vestirse – to dress
  • desvestirse – to undress
  • despertarse – to wake up
  • dormirse – to fall asleep

SOME REFLEXIVE VERBS INDICATE ACTIONS THAT ARE RECIPROCAL AMONG THE SUBJECTS OF A SENTENCE:

  • amarse – to love each other
  • conocerse – to know each other
  • pelearse – to fight with each other
  • odiarse – to hate each other
  • quererse – to want/love each other
  • abrazarse – to hug each other

WE ALSO USE THESE REFLEXIVE VERBS TO EXPRESS ACTIONS THAT ARE NOT PLANNED OR SOMETHING WE INTENDED TO DO:

  • caerse – to fall down
  • confundirse – to be confused
  • olvidarse – to forget
  • perderse – to get lost
  • romperse – to break

ANOTHER COMMON USE OF REFLEXIVE VERBS IS TO INDICATE A CHANGE IN THE STATE OR POSITION OF THE PERSON PERFORMING THE ACTION:

  • acercarse (a) – to approach
  • alejarse (de) – to walk away
  • bajarse (de) – to get off (of something)
  • callarse – to shut up
  • cansarse – to be tired of
  • curarse – to be cured of
  • enfermarse – to get sick
  • envejecerse – to grow old
  • mojarse – to get wet
  • moverse – to move (make a movement)
  • mudarse (de casa) – to move (house)
  • subirse (a) – to get on/on top of

WE CAN ALSO USE REFLEXIVE VERBS TO EXPRESS A CHANGE IN HOW WE PERCEIVE THINGS:

  • acordarse (de) – to remember
  • acostumbrarse (a) – to get used to
  • asegurarse (de)  – to make sure of
  • darse cuenta (de) – to realize (something)
  • enterarse (de) – to find out (something)
  • interesarse (por) – to be interested in
  • fijarse (en) – to pay attention (to)
  • olvidarse (de) – to forget (about)

REFLEXIVE VERBS ALSO HELP EXPRESS CHANGES IN OUR STATE – WHETHER IT BE MENTAL, PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL, ETC.:

  • casarse (con) – to marry
  • divorciarse (de) – to get divorced
  • empobrecerse – to become impoverished/poor
  • enriquecerse – to become wealthy
  • graduarse (de) – to graduate (from)
  • acordarse (de) – to remember (something/someone)
  • calmarse – to calm down
  • cansarse (de) – to be tired (of)
  • divertirse – to have fun
  • enamorarse (de) – to fall in love (with)
  • enfurecerse – to be furious at
  • enloquecerse – to go crazy/insane
  • enojarse – to be upset
  • enorgullecerse – to feel proud
  • entristecerse – to feel sad
  • preocuparse (de) – to be worried about
  • sentirse + adj (de) – to feel (adjective)
  • tranquilizarse – to calm down

FINALLY, BEAR IN MIND THAT SOME VERBS CAN BE USED WITH REFLEXIVE PRONOUNS WHICH WILL CHANGE THE MEANING OF THE VERB:

  • despedir vs despedirse: to fire vs to say goodbye
  • dirigir vs dirigirse (a): to direct vs to go in a direction
  • encontrar vs encontrarse (con): to find vs to bump into someone
  • ir (a) vs irse (de): to go vs to leave
  • llevar vs llevarse bien/mal (con): to bring vs to get along with someone
  • meter vs meterse (con): to put in vs to put oneself in
  • parecer vs parecerse (a): seem vs to resemble
  • aburrir vs aburrirse – to bore vs to be boring
  • alegrar vs alegrarse (de) – to make someone happy vs to be happy about
  • asustar vs asustarse: to scare vs to feel scared
  • avergonzar vs avergonzarse – to embarrass vs to be embarrassed

 

What Are Reflexive Verbs?

These verbs are used to describe actions that often do, such as routines, personal hygiene and habits we may have. In English, it’s very evident that when we say things like ‘I am taking a bath’ that we mean to say we are bathing ourselves. In Spanish, saying ‘yo baño’ translates directly into ‘I bathe.’ Yet, who are you bathing? Yourself? Someone else? A pet? That’s precisely the role of the reflexive verb – to clarify who is performing the action.

In order to make that distinction, we use pronouns to indicate who the action is reflecting on to make sure we’re being clear. That being said, the construction of the sentence will also be a little different, but first, let’s talk about the pronouns we’ll need to know in order to use these.

What Are Reflexive Pronouns?

Normally, verbs in Spanish end in -AR, -ER or -IR. When a verb is reflexive, you will see it end in -ARSE, -ERSE or -IRSE. The ‘se’ represents the reflexive pronouns we will need to use. Bear in mind in Spanish a lot of pronouns may look the same, but their function is different. It’s important to know the difference so when you see a sentence you can understand what role the pronouns are playing and correctly interpret what the other person is trying to communicate. Don’t worry, it’s a lot simpler than it sounds!

Let’s start with one of the most important pieces of information you’ll need – the reflexive pronouns. Each subject pronoun has its own reflexive pronoun which means that, depending on the context of the conversation, you might not need the subject pronoun. Here are the reflexive pronouns that correspond to each subject pronoun:

Subject pronounReflexive pronounTranslation to English
Yomemyself
teyourself

Él
Ella
Uno

Usted

se

himself
herself
oneself / itself

yourself

Nosotros

Nosotras

nosourselves

Vosotros

Vosotras

osyourselves
Ellos
Ellas
Ustedes
se

themselves

yourselves

How Do You Conjugate Reflexive Verbs in Spanish?

For this example, I will use the present tense as a base. However, the structure of the reflexive pronouns will be the same regardless of which tense we are conjugating. When I conjugate a verb in the present, we remove the -AR, -ER, -IR  at the end of the verb and replace with the appropriate verb conjugation depending on the subject pronoun. In this case, are are also going to insert the correct pronoun before the verb. Here is an example:

Conjugation of  secarseMeaning
Yo me secoI dry (myself)
te secasyou dry (yourself)
Él se seca
Ella se seca
Uno se seca
Se seca
Usted se seca
he dries (himself)
she dries (herself)
one dries (oneself)
it dries (itself)
you dries (yourself)
Nosotros/nosotras nos secamoswe dry (ourselves)
Vosotros/vosotras os secáisyou dry (yourselves)
Ellos se secan
Ellas se secan
Ustedes se secan
they dry (themselves)
they dry (themselves)
you dry (yourselves

NOTE: As I mentioned above, because me seco only translates to ‘I dry myself,’ it is not necessary for you to say yo me seco each and every time you speak. Given the context of a conversation, it is very likely the person you are talking with will already understand what you mean!

Position of Reflexive Verbs in a Sentence

As described in the example above, the order of these reflexive pronouns is as follows:

  • In an affirmative sentence: SUBJECT PRONOUN + REFLEXIVE PRONOUN + VERB
    • Examples: Yo me afeito (I shave). Tú te bañas (You bathe). Ella se duerme (She goes to sleep).
  • In a negative sentence: SUBJECT PRONOUN + NO + REFLEXIVE PRONOUN + VERB
    • Examples: Nosotros no nos sentamos (We do not sit down). Ustedes no se duermen (You do not go to sleep). Vosotros no os laváis las manos (You all do not wash your hands).
  • A third and very important use of these would be the imperative – when we are using commands or giving people instructions of things we DO want them to do. In these instances, the reflexive pronoun will be placed at the end of the verb: SUBJECT PRONOUN + VERB + REFLEXIVE PRONOUNThe same applies whether it’s a negative command: SUBJECT PRONOUN + NO + VERB + REFLEXIVE PRONOUN.
    • Examples: ¡Tú siéntate(You sit down!). ¡Cállate! (Be quiet!)

 

For more information on Spanish Reflexive Verbs and Spanish verbs in general, make sure to check out this resource.
 

We hope you enjoyed this post about Reflexive Verbs people use in Spanish! Check out more of our posts for Spanish grammar here.

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