Reflexive Verbs – Spanish Grammar
Written by tutor Jennifer H.
What is a reflexive verb?
A reflexive verb is a verb that is used
when the subject and object receiving the
action are the same.
Ex. I wash myself.
Both the subject and the object refer to the same person. I am doing the action to myself.
Since the subject and the object are the same the verb is reflexive.
When is it not reflexive?
Like stated before if the subject and object are not the same if the verb is not reflexive.
Ex. I wash the dog.
The subject and the object are different. I am doing the action to something else, NOT myself.
Because the subject and object are different, this verb is not reflexive.
How do I know if a verb is reflexive in Spanish?
Reflexive verbs in Spanish end in se when not conjugated.
|to wash (non-reflexive)||to wash oneself (reflexive)|
|despertar – to wake up||despertarse – to wake oneself up|
|maquillar – to put make-up on||maquillarse – to put make-up on oneself|
|vestir – to dress||vestirse – to dress oneself/to get dressed|
|poner – to put||ponerse – to put on|
When do I use reflexive verbs and pronouns in Spanish?
If the subject and the object of a verb are the same a reflexive pronoun can be used.
In Spanish the reflexive pronoun shows that the subject acts upon itself.
This is where that se comes into play…
How do I conjugate reflexive verbs?
When you conjugate, include the reflexive pronoun that agrees with the subject, but place it in front of the conjugated verb.
|yo||me lavo||nosotros||nos lavamos|
|tú||te lavas||vosotros||os lavaís|
|Usted, él, ella||se lava||Uds., ellos, ellas||se lavan|
Notice that the verbs are conjugated according to their subject and each subject has its own pronoun.
Other ways to use the reflexive pronoun
Reflexive pronouns can go before a conjugated verb or can be joined to the end of an infinitive.
Me lavo la cara.
I wash my face.
Voy a lavarme la cara.
I am going to wash my face.
Common Reflexive Verbs
afeitarse – to shave
levantarse – to get up
prepararse – to get ready
bañarse – to bathe
mantenerse – to maintain
quitarse – to take off
despertarse – to wake up
maquillarse – to put on make-up
relajarse – to relax
vestirse – to get dressed
Reflexive verbs practice quiz
Choose the correct translation.
I wash the car.
Lavo el auto.
Me lavo el auto.
I bathe myself.
Juan goes to bed at ten in the evening.
Juan acuesta a las diez de la noche.
Juan se acuesta a las diez de la noche.