Los verbos reflexivos


  • Recognize reflexive verbs that refer a daily routine or habitual actions
  • Use the correct reflexive pronouns

Sign reads: "¿Qué te motiva a levantarte en la mañana?"Reflexive verbs are special in Spanish because they signal actions that are done by the subject to him/her/themself. In other words the subject and the object of the sentence is doing and receiving the action at the same time. You can recognize reflexive verbs by the “se” attached to the infinitive.

Verbos reflexivos

get up Play Audiodespertarse (wake up)
wake up Play Audiolevantarse (get up)

arreglarse (to get ready/ready oneself)

bath Play Audiobañarse

shower Play Audioducharse

soap Play Audiolavarse

to cleanPlay Audiolimpiarse

brush teeth Play Audiocepillarse los dientes

brush hair Play Audiocepillarse el pelo

comb hair Play Audiopeinarse

shave Play Audioafeitarse

get dressed Play Audiovestirse (to get dressed), Play Audioponerse (to put on), Play Audioprobarse (to try on)

put on makeup Play Audiomaquillarse

Otros  verbos reflexivos

relaxing in a hammock Play Audioacostarse (lie down), Play Audiorelajarse (to relax)

person falling Play Audiocaerse (to fall down)

icon of person going up stairs and getting tiredcansarse (to get tired)

to leave Play Audioirse (to go away, to leave)

To hurt oneself Play Audiolastimarse (to hurt oneself)

forgetolvidarse (to forget)

remove, take off Play Audioquitarse (to remove, take away)

sit down Play Audiosentarse

The following are some more common reflexive verbs and their non-reflexive equivalents:

Forma reflexiva Forma no reflexiva
Play Audioafeitarse  (to shave oneself) afeitar (to shave someone or something)
Play Audioarreglarse (to get ready/ready oneself) Play Audioarreglar (to arrange someone or something)
Play Audiocaerse (to fall down) Play Audiocaer (to fall, go down)
cansarse (to get tired) cansar (to tire out)
cepillarse (to brush oneself) Play Audiocepillar (to brush someone or something)
Play Audioducharse (to shower oneself/take a shower) Play Audioduchar (to shower/give someone a shower)
Play Audioirse (to go away, to leave) Play Audioir (to go)
Play Audiolastimarse (to hurt oneself) Play Audiolastimar (to hurt someone or something)
Play Audiolavarse (to wash oneself) Play Audiolavar (to wash someone or something)
Play Audiolevantarse (to get up) Play Audiolevantar (to lift someone or something)
Play Audiollamarse (to be called, named) Play Audiollamar (to call someone or something)
Play Audiomaquillarse (to put make-up on oneself) Play Audiomaquillar (to put make-up on someone else)
Play Audioponerse (to put on) Play Audioponer (to put)
Play Audioprobarse (to try on) Play Audioprobar (to try, to taste)
Play Audioquemarse (to burn oneself) Play Audioquemar (to burn someone or something)
Play Audioquitarse (to take off, e.g. clothing) Play Audioquitar (to take away from someone or something)
Play Audiorelajarse (to relax oneself) Play Audiorelajar (to relax someone or something)

Note that the meaning changes when the verb is reflexive or not.

¿Cómo se conjugan los verbos reflexivos?

To conjugate reflexive verbs, reflexive pronouns are used that match the verb ending; as usual in Spanish, you may specify the subject pronoun, especially for clarification, but subject pronouns may be left out of these sentences because the reflexive pronoun and verb ending should be clarification enough.

You probably noticed in the vocabulary list above that all reflexive infinitives end with the pronoun “se”.  This ending is a reflexive pronoun, and is placed *before* a conjugated verb. This indicates that the subject of the sentence is doing the action to him/herself. The ending of the verb matches the subject (and the reflexive pronoun) according to the tense, and in this case we are still in the present tense. See the table that follows:

Subject Pronoun Reflexive Pronoun Play Audiobañarse vestirse Play Audiocepillarse dormirse
yo me Play Audiome baño Play Audiome visto Play Audiome cepillo Play Audiome duermo
te Play Audiote bañas Play Audiote vistes Play Audiote cepillas Play Audiote duermes
él, ella, usted se Play Audiose baña Play Audiose viste Play Audiose cepilla Play Audiose duerme
nosotros, nosotras nos Play Audionos bañamos Play Audionos vestimos Play Audionos cepillamos Play Audionos dormimos
vosotros, vosotras os Play Audioos bañáis Play Audioos vestís Play Audioos cepilláis Play Audioos dormís
ellos, ellas, ustedes se Play Audiose bañan Play Audiose visten Play Audiose cepillan Play Audiose duermen

¡OJO! The reflexive pronoun “nos” and the subject pronoun “nosotros” are two different words, with different functions.  Never think that “nos” is an abbreviation of “nosotros”!

To recap, in reflexive verbs the subject is acting on itself: this is the most common use of the reflexive, though there are others. Essentially reflexives are verbs where the subject and object are the same. Here’s a summary table with the reflexive pronouns:

  Singular Plural
1a persona me (myself) nos (ourselves)
2a persona te (yourself – informal) os (yourself – formal)
3a persona  se (himself, herself, itself)  se (themselves)

Why is this so complicated for English speakers? Because there is no exact translation of the reflexive verbs into English. The reflexive usage is often translated in a non-reflexive way, as you have seen since the start of this course: “Ella se llama Carmen” literally translates to “She calls herself Carmen”, but it is translated into English as “Her name is Carmen.”

Pronoun placement

To make the reflexive form complete you must add the appropriate reflexive pronoun and put it in the appropriate place. When the reflexive verb is conjugated, the reflexive pronoun must agree with the subject and it must precede the conjugated verb.

  • Play AudioElla se levanta temprano. (She gets up early.)

As pointed out above, the reflexive pronoun must precede a conjugated verb. However, when the infinitive follows a conjugated verb or is part of a construct the reflexive pronoun may go either in front of the conjugated verb or attached to the infinitive at the end of the construct.

  • Play AudioElla se tiene que levantar temprano. (She has to get up early.)
  • Play AudioElla tiene que levantarse temprano. (She has to get up early.)

Similarly, in the present progressive the reflexive pronoun may go either in front of the conjugated verb “estar”, or attached to the gerund.  When attaching to the end of the gerund care must be taken to ensure that any required written accents are added.

  • Play AudioElla se está levantando temprano. (She is getting up early.)
  • Play AudioElla está levantándose temprano. (She is getting up early.)


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