Reflexive Verbs and Reflexive Pronouns
Reflexive Verbs and Their Pronouns
Reflexive verbs use reflexive pronouns to indicate that someone or something is performing an action on or for itself. These types of verbs are not very common in English, but are used frequently in Spanish. Many actions related to personal care or daily routines are reflexive, but other verbs can be reflexive as well.
|I shower every morning.|
|You brush your hair before going out.|
|He was talking to himself.|
|I see myself in the mirror.|
In these sentences, the subject performs the action on itself, and the subject and object of the verb refer to the same entity. Compare two sentences in which one is reflexive and one is not.
|Reflexive||I wash myself.||Yo (I) is the subject of of the verb lavar (wash) and me (myself) is the object.|
|Not Reflexive||I wash the dog.||Yo (I) is the subject of of the verb lavar (wash) and el perro (the dog) is the object.|
Match your Pronouns
When the object of the verb is the same entity as the subject, you will need to use a reflexive pronoun that matches the subject of the verb in both number (singular or plural) and person (1st, 2nd, 3rd).
|Number and Person||Spanish||English|
|Singular, First||I wash myself.|
|Singular, Second (Informal)||You wash yourself.|
|Singular, Third OR Singular, Second (Formal)||He washes himself./She washes herself./It washes itself./You wash yourself.|
|Plural, First||We wash ourselves.|
|Plural, Second (Informal)||You wash yourselves.|
|Plural, Third OR Plural, Second||They wash themselves./You wash yourselves.|
Reflexive pronouns have the same forms as indirect object pronouns, with the exception of se, which is used instead of le and les for the third person. The reflexive pronoun will always be the same number (singular or plural) and person (1st, 2nd, 3rd) as the subject of the sentence.
Reflexive Pronoun Forms
Reflexive Pronoun Uses
Reflexive verbs require the use of reflexive pronouns to indicate that the direct object of the verb is also the subject (in other words, the subject is performing the action on himself or herself). The reflexive pronoun has to be the same grammatical person as the verb ending.
As mentioned before, you can also add reflexive pronouns to verbs not regularly reflexive in order to make them reflexive.
Reflexive verbs can also be used to indicate an emotional response to something. When a person becomes angry, sad, happy, etc., you can express this by using reflexive verbs.
Reflexive pronouns can also be used to add emphasis to a seemingly regular situation. The pronouns are not normally translated directly into English, but the sense of something extra is there in Spanish.
Reflexive Pronoun Placement
Reflexive pronouns are placed immediately before simple conjugated verbs and negative commands.
Reflexive pronouns are attached to the end of affirmative commands and, in the case of compound verbs like the present progressive, the pronoun can either be attached to the end of the infinitive or present participle or go before the conjugated verb.
|Take off your hat.|
|Estoy duchándome. OR Me estoy duchando.||I am showering.|
|Voy a sentarme. OR Me voy a sentar.||I am going to sit (myself) down.|
Reflexive Verb Examples
Below is a list of common reflexive verbs. This is not a complete list, but rather a reference give you an idea of the kinds of verbs that are reflexive.