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Spanish reflexive verbs

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In Spanish, reflexive verbs are very common. They are used in every day language. Reflexive verbs, in Spanish, have se attached to the end of it. The se stands for a reflexive pronoun, se has the following meanings: himself, herself, itself, yourself, themselves, yourselves and oneself. 

Here are some examples of reflexive verbs: 

  • acostarse (to go to bed)
  • dormirse (to go to sleep) 
  • ducharse (to have a shower)
  • lavarse (to wash)
  • sentarse (to sit down) 

Conjugation of reflexive verbs in Spanish

In order to use the reflexive verbs in Spanish, you need to know how to conjugate them. 

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Present tense of reflexive verbs

When conjugating a reflexive verb in Spanish you need to know which reflexive pronoun to use. The reflexive pronouns usually precede the conjugated verb and they are adapted to the subject of the sentence. In table you can see what the different reflexive pronouns are and what they mean. 

Subject PronounReflexive PronounMeaning
(yo)memyself
(tú)teyourself
(él), (ella), (usted)sehimself, herself, oneself, itself, yourself
(nosotros/nosotras)nosourselves
(vosotros/vosotras)osyourselves
(ellos), (ellas), (ustedes)sethemselves, yourselves

In the following table an example is given of the conjugation of a reflexive verb. 

Conjugation Present Tense LavarseMeaning
(yo) me lavoI wash (myself)
(tú) te lavasyou wash (yourself)

(el) se lava

(ella) se lava

(usted) se lava

he washes (himself)

she washes (herself)

you wash (yourself)

(nosotros/nosotras) nos lavamoswe wash (ourselves)
(vosotros/vosotras) os laváisyou wash (yourselves)

(ellos) se lavan

(ellas) se lavan

(ustedes) se lavan

they wash (themselves)

they wash (themselves)

you wash (yourselves) 

Position of reflexive pronouns in Spanish

The reflexive pronoun is not always on the same spot in the sentence, this can differ according to the tense the verb is conjugated in. 

Regular tenses

In ordinary tenses, the reflexive pronoun goes before the verb (for example with the present simple).

Examples: 

  • ¿Cómo te llamas?What is your name?
  • Después del desayuno, me ducho. - After breakfast, I take a shower.

Irregular tenses

In some tenses in Spanish, the reflexive pronoun has a different place in the sentence. 

When you are telling someone to do something, you put the reflexive pronoun on the end of the verb

Examples: 

  • ¡Siéntense! - Sit down! 
  • ¡Acostarse! - Go to bed! 

However, when you are telling someone not to do something, you put the reflexive pronoun before the verb.

Examples: 

  • ¡No os vayáis!Don't leave! 
  • ¡No te cases!Don't get married! 

Use of reflexive verbs in Spanish

In Spanish, we use reflexive verbs to talk about every day actions. Down below you can see some examples. 

Examples: 

  • ¿A qué hora te despiertas?At what time do you wake up? 
  • Me levanto a las seis y media.I get up at six thirty in the morning. 
  • A veces me baño los fines de semana.Sometimes I bathe on weekends. 

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