Reflexive verbs in Spanish

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:

Non reflexive:

SubjectVerbObject
Iwashthe car
You washthe laundry

Reflexive:

SubjectVerbObject
Iwashmyself
Youwashyourself

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:

SubjectReflexive pronoun
yome
te
él/ella/ustedse
nosotros  nos
vostrosos
ellos/ustedesse

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 verbsthe verb is not conjugated
a simple negative command is usedyou 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:

FormConjugation blue print
Yome stem + o
te stem + as / es
Él/ella/ustedse stem + a / e
Nosotrosnos stem + amos / emos / imos
Vosotrosos stem + áis / éis / ís
Ellos/Ellas/Ustedesse stem + an / en

Examples of reflexive conjugation in Spanish

The way to conjugate in the present tense for the verb lavarse:

Yo me lavo
te lavas
Él/ella/usted se lava
Nosotros nos lavamos
Vosotros os laváis
Ellos/Ellas/Ustedes se lavan

Click here to see the full conjugation chart for the verb lavarse

The way to conjugate in the present tense for the verb acostarse:

Yo me acuesto
te acuestas
Él/ella/usted se acuesta
Nosotros nos acostamos
Vosotros os acostáis
Ellos/Ellas/Ustedes se acuestan

Click here to see the full conjugation chart for the verb acostarse

The 20 most common Spanish reflexive verbs:

Here is a short list of reflexive verbs used in daily life.

Reflexive verbEnglish translation
Acostarseto go to bed
Dormirseto go/fall asleep
Lavarseto wash
Levantarseto get up (out of bed)
Llamarseto call
Sentarseto sit down
Ducharseto shower
Quedarseto stay
Sentirseto feel
Vestirseto get dressed
Aburrirseto get bored
Bañarseto bathe oneself or go swimming in the pool
Callarseto shut up / keep quite
Despertarseto wake up
Irseto go away
Preguntarseto aks oneself
Casarseto get married
Prepararseto prepare oneself
Peinarseto brush (your hair)
Dedicarseto dedicate oneself
most commonly used reflexive verbs in Spanish