Overview

Reflexive verbs are used when the direct or indirect object of a sentence is the same as the subject. Reflexive verbs require the use of a reflexive pronoun to indicate who the subject/object is. These types of verbs are not very common in English, but are used frequently in Spanish to describe actions that a person does to, for, from, or off him or herself. Many verbs that express actions related to personal care or daily routines are reflexive and do not translate easily into English as "myself," "yourself," etc.

Reflexive Verbs

Reflexive verbs are made up of an infinitive and a reflexive pronoun. You can always tell which verbs are reflexive when you look them up in the infinitive form because they will have se attached to the end of the verb.

Some Common Reflexive Verbs

aburrirse (de) (to get bored with) despertarse (to wake up) enojarse (con) (to get mad about) quitarse (to take off)
acordarse (de) (to remember) destaparse (to uncover) irse (to leave) reponerse (to get better)
acostarse (to go to bed) desvestirse (to get undressed) limarse (las uñas) (to file) secarse (to dry off)
afeitarse (to shave) disgustarse (de) (to become upset about) maquillarse (to put on makeup) sentarse (to sit down)
alegrarse (de) (to be glad about) distraerse (to distract oneself) mirarse (to look at oneself) sostenerse (to support)
bañarse (to bathe) divertirse (con) (to enjoy oneself with) olvidarse (de) (to forget about) subirse (to get up)
cepillarse (to brush) dormirse (to go to sleep) peinarse (to comb one´s hair) taparse (to cover)
convertirse (en) (to become) ducharse (to shower) pintarse (los labios) (to put on lipstick) torcerse (to twist)
desayunarse (to eat breakfast) enfermarse (to become ill) probarse (to try on) vestirse (to get dressed)
despedirse (to say good-bye) enloquecerse (to go crazy) ponerse (to put on) volverse (to become)

Reflexive Pronouns

Reflexive pronouns have almost the same forms as indirect object pronouns except se is used in place of le and les for the third person. The reflexive pronoun will always be the same person (1st, 2nd, 3rd) and number (singular, plural) as the subject of the sentence.

Reflexive Pronouns

Singular Plural
1st person me (to, for, from, or off myself) nos (to, for, from, or off ourselves)
2nd person te (to, for, from, or off yourself) os (to, for, from, or off yourselves)
3rd person se (to, for, from, or off himself, herself, itself, yourself) se (to, for, from, or off themselves, yourselves)

Examples

Below you will find examples of how and when to use reflexive pronouns in context. In addition to an English translation for each phrase, you will see the infinitive form of the reflexive verb.

Reflexive Pronoun Placement

Reflexive pronouns are placed immediately before simple conjugated verbs and negative commands.

  • Yo me saco los guantes. (sacarse) I take off my gloves.
  • Tu te lavas la cara. (lavarse) You wash your face.
  • Ellas se maquillan. (maquillarse) They put makeup on.
  • No se escriba notas. (escribir) Don´t write notes to yourself.

Reflexive Pronouns are Attached to...

affirmative commands, gerunds, and infinitives.

  • Estoy duchandóme. (ducharse) I am showering.
  • Quítate el sombrero. (quitarse) Take off your hat.
  • Voy a afeitarme. (afeitarse) I am going to shave.

Exercises

1) Write sentences using the subject and verb provided. Verb tense does not matter.

Example: Yo/quitarse/la bufanda. -> Yo me quito la bufanda. (I take off my scarf.)

  1. Gabriela/mirarse/en el espejo.
  2. Mi padre/ducharse/temprano por la mañana.
  3. Yo/pintarse/los labios.
  4. Tú/peinarse/el pelo.
  5. ¿Estás/lavarse/las manos?

Answers

  1. Gabriela se mira en el espejo.
  2. Mi padre se ducha temprano por la mañana.
  3. Yo me pinto los labios.
  4. Tú te peinas el pelo.
  5. ¿Estás lavándote las manos?
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