Updated: Jul 23
A verb is reflexive when the subject and the object are the same, and where the action “reflects back” on the subject.
I wash myself. subject: I verb: wash object: myself Since the subject and object are the same, the verb is reflexive. I wash the car. subject: I verb: wash object: car Since the subject and object are different, the verb is not reflexive.
They must be used with a reflexive pronoun such us myself, yourself and himself in English. Below you can see the Spanish reflexive pronouns:
How work reflexive verbs in Spanish
1. In Spanish, reflexive verbs are much more common than in English, and many are used in everyday language. The infinitive form of a reflexive verb has SE attached to the end of it, for example, secarse (meaning to dry oneself). This is the way reflexive verbs are shown in dictionaries. These are some common reflexive verbs in Spanish.
lavar to wash (non-reflexive) lavarse to wash oneself (reflexive) rascar to scratch (non-reflexive) rascarse to scratch oneself (reflexive)
Acostarse (to go to bed) Levantarse (to get up)
Llamarse (to be called) Dormirse (to go to sleep)
Ducharse (to have a shower) Enfadarse (to get angry)
Acordarse (to remember) Vestirse (to get dressed)
Divertise (to enjoy) Casarse (to get married)
2. Reflexive pronouns are normally written before the verb and they change depending on the subject:
Mi jefe se enfada mucho (My boss often gets angry).
Me levanto a las siete (I get up at seven o’clock).
¿A qué hora os acostáis? (What time do you go to bed?).
¿Cómo te llamas? (What’s your name?)
Nos vestimos (We are getting dressed).
3. Very often, Spanish verbs can be used both as reflexive verbs and as ordinary verbs (without the reflexive pronouns). When they are used as ordinary verbs, the person or thing doing the action is not the same as the person or thing receiving the action, so the meaning is different.
Me lavo (I wash myself).
Lavo la ropa a mano (I wash the clothes by hand).
Me llamo Santiago (I am called Santiago).
¡Llama a la policía! (Call the police).
Lavo las manos a mi hijo. (I wash my son's hands)
Me lavo las manos (I wash my hands).
4. The pronouns of the reflexive verbs and the pronouns of CI (indirect complement) that appear in some verbs, like gustar, are the same. Only the 3rd person is different.
me gusta –me levanto
te gusta –te levantas
le gusta –se levanta
nos gusta –nos levantamos
os gusta –os levantáis
les gusta –se levantan
Listening activity No. 1: The reflexive verbs
In this video you will learn the reflexive verbs and how they are conjugated, when do we use the reflexive pronouns and some examples. Take notes of the information you consider important and listen carefully to identify the phrases presented above plus a few new ones. Press PLAY when you are ready.
Listening Activity No. 2: "Verbos reflexivos"
Learn the vocabulary about daily life in the context. In this video we are going to see Cristina's daily activities. Take notes of the information you consider important and listen carefully to identify the phrases presented above plus a few new ones. Press PLAY when you are ready.
Audiovisual comprehension to practice oral and written expression. No. 2: "Patrick Hughes - Signs".
This 12 minutes speechless film is about a lonely boy who start communicating with a cute girl in next building using written signs and eventually they met each other. Love doesn't always talk, sometimes might be expressed even from a piece of paper. In a world of social networking and cellphone, signs are still powerful as long as they mean a lot. We hope you find it very useful.
This resource includes a comprehension activity in Spanish for students to complete after reading and watching the video, as well as an activity to reinforce routines vocabulary and the reflexive pronouns. Available in our store.
Remember you can contact your tutor with any question have. Don’t you have a Spanish tutor yet? Please, leave a message if you want we prepare more activities about this topic. Thanks for helping us to improve.
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The Español Latino Team