The Spanish language has 69 reflexive verbs. An indicator for a reflexive verb is that the verb (the infinitive) always ends in -se.
What are reflexive verbs in Spanish?
A verb is reflexive when the subject and object are the same. Meaning when the person doing the action and the receiver of that action are the same. For example:
In the tables above you can easily see when a verb is used in a reflexive way. In the first table the subject and object are not the same, therefore the verb is non-reflexive. In the second table the subject and object are the same and therefore we use a reflexive verb.
In the example of washing there are two ways to conjugate the verb. The verb “to wash” is “lavar”. The verb “to wash itself”, the reflexive version is “lavarse”. All reflexive verbs have a non-reflexive version of the verb as well. You can tell them apart because a reflexive verb always ends in -se.
Master reflexive verbs in Spanish grammar:
Reflexive verbs are one of the most difficult verbs to conjugate. You most likely will need a lot of practice before it will start to feel natural to conjugate them. First you will need to know the reflexive object pronouns. This is the -se part of the verb that will tell what the object or receiver of the action is. Remember that when a verb is reflexive the subject and object are always the same.
The six reflexive pronouns:
Where to place reflexive pronouns
There are two places where you can place the reflexive pronouns: before or after the verb. Normally the pronoun is used directly in front of the conjugation verb. However, there are specific rules in place. To break it down. Follow the following rules when placing the reflexive pronoun:
|Place pronoun BEFORE the verb if:||Place pronoun AFTER the verb if:|
|you use simple conjugated verbs||the verb is not conjugated|
|a simple negative command is used||you are using the infinitive|
|you are using the gerund|
|it is used as a informal command|
Take as a rule of thumb that the pronoun is always placed before the verb and learn the exceptions in the column “AFTER” above.
How to conjugate reflexive verbs
When you conjugate a reflexive verb in Spanish you take off the last two letters which are always -se. Than conjugate the verb as normal.
Reflexive conjugation chart for regular verbs:
|Form||Conjugation blue print|
|Yo||me stem + o|
|Tú||te stem + as / es|
|Él/ella/usted||se stem + a / e|
|Nosotros||nos stem + amos / emos / imos|
|Vosotros||os stem + áis / éis / ís|
|Ellos/Ellas/Ustedes||se stem + an / en|
Examples of reflexive conjugation in Spanish
The way to conjugate in the present tense for the verb lavarse:
Yo me lavo
Tú te lavas
Él/ella/usted se lava
Nosotros nos lavamos
Vosotros os laváis
Ellos/Ellas/Ustedes se lavan
Yo me acuesto
Tú te acuestas
Él/ella/usted se acuesta
Nosotros nos acostamos
Vosotros os acostáis
Ellos/Ellas/Ustedes se acuestan
The 20 most common Spanish reflexive verbs:
Here is a short list of reflexive verbs used in daily life.
|Reflexive verb||English translation|
|Acostarse||to go to bed|
|Dormirse||to go/fall asleep|
|Levantarse||to get up (out of bed)|
|Sentarse||to sit down|
|Vestirse||to get dressed|
|Aburrirse||to get bored|
|Bañarse||to bathe oneself or go swimming in the pool|
|Callarse||to shut up / keep quite|
|Despertarse||to wake up|
|Irse||to go away|
|Preguntarse||to aks oneself|
|Casarse||to get married|
|Prepararse||to prepare oneself|
|Peinarse||to brush (your hair)|
|Dedicarse||to dedicate oneself|