Conjugating and using Spanish Reflexive Verbs

Los verbos reflexivos or Spanish reflexive verbs are a special type of verbs whose action reflects back on the subject. They are very common in everyday conversations and that is why we decided to make a lesson that explains how they can be used to make grammatically correct sentences. This lesson includes a list of common verbs Spanish reflexive verbs, a conjugation chart and interactive quizzes to practice grammar. Comencemos…

The two parts of Spanish reflexive verbs – Los verbos reflexivos

As we mentioned in our lesson for Regular Verbs, verbs in Spanish normally end in -AR, -ER and -IR in their infinitive form, and all of them represent an action that usually affects an object. For a very basic sentence like ¨Yo barro el piso¨, YO (I) would be the subject, BARRER (sweep) the action or verb and EL PISO (the floor) the object.

Spanish reflexive verbs are somewhat different as they represent actions that affects the subject of the sentence not the object itself. Reflexive verbs will not end in -AR, -ER or -IR but in -SE. It is often a verb in infinitive (part 1) plus the -SE ending (part 2), for example: BAÑAR + SE = BAÑARSE. We could transform any simple verb into a reflexive verb, but it does not make sense to do so for a great deal of them. The picture below shows the structure and two different ways to use them in sentences.

The basic structure or parts of Spanish reflexive verbs
Los verbos reflexivos en español

Conjugating Spanish reflexive verbs: chart and examples

As shown in the picture, reflexive verbs in Spanish are formed by two parts: a verb in infinitive + a reflexive pronoun. The verb in infinite is conjugated following the rules for regular verbs so for a verb like BAÑARSE (BAÑAR + SE), we should apply the rules for –AR ending verbs and conjugate that part as (Yo) baño, (Tú) bañas, (Él) baña and so on. The reflexive pronoun -SE at the end of BAÑARSE will also change depending on the pronoun or subject in use, e.g. “Yo me baño”, where ME is the reflexive pronoun that corresponds to YO.

Putting all the pieces together, for the verb BAÑARSE we could say: “Yo me baño”, “Tú te bañas”, “Él se baña”… and so on. Leaving out the subject pronoun is totally fine, but do not omit the reflexive pronoun. Here is a chart with several examples of sentences using all the possible conjugations for the reflexive verb BAÑARSE. Click on PLAY to listen to the example.

Using Spanish reflexive verbs in sentences

Yo me baño en la mañana
Translation: I take a shower in the morning
Tú te/Vos te – Tú te bañas muy rápido
Translation: You bathe very fast
Él se/ Ella se / Usted se – ¿Ella se baña sola?
Translation:Does she bathe by herself?
Nosotros nos bañamos en el río
Translation: We go swimming in the river
Vosotros os bañáis sin permiso
Translation: You take a shower without permission
Los niños se bañan juntos
Translation: The children take a shower together

A list of common reflexive verbs in Spanish

There are many reflexive verbs in Spanish to choose from, but we selected some of them and created sentences for you to see their conjugation as well. For irregular verbs like IR (to go), that sometimes can be used in a reflexive form, make sure you conjugate the infinitive correctly as this verb do not follow regular verbs rules: Yo me voy, Tú te vas… and so on. Most are regular verbs, but some may need a stem change or an ortographic change, for example, SALIR is conjugated as SALGO for the pronoun YO so we should say Yo me salgo not Yo me salo.

Make sure you are familiar with all these rules for regular verbs and that you recognize a few basic irregular verbs as well. In order to use and conjugate Spanish reflexive verbs  properly, you really need to know how to conjugate the verb in infitinive and then just add the correct reflexive pronoun for the subject.

A list of common Spanish reflexive verbs

VESTIRSE – Yo me visto
Translation: I get dressed
DORMIRSE- Tú te duermes
Translation: You go to sleep
ALISTARSE – Él se alista
Translation: He gets ready
PONERSE – Ella se pone el sombrero
Translation: She puts on the hat
QUITARSE – Nosostros nos quitamos el brazalete
Translation: We take off the bracelet
ENCONTRARSE – ¿Ustedes se encontraron con ellos?
Translation: Did you meet with them?
DARSE CUENTA – ¿Ellos ya se dieron cuenta del accidente?
Translation: Did they realize about the accident?
FIJARSE – Yo siempre me fijo en los anuncios
Translation: I always pay attention to the adds
METERSE – Siempre nos metemos en problemas
Translation: We always get in trouble
ACORDARSE – ¿Tú te acuerdas de mi?
Translation: Do you remember me?
ENOJARSE – Él se enojó contigo
Translation: He got angry with you
IRSE – ¿Usted se va con nosotros?
Translation: Are you going with us?

Grammar Practice: Conjugating Spanish reflexive verbs

This short quiz was planned in order to help you practice Spanish reflexive verbs. Choose the best answer for each question in the quiz from the given options. You will receive a tip every time you find the right answer. Press Start to begin the quiz.
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When will you need to use reflexive verbs in Spanish?

Spanish Reflexive verbs can be used to say simple things such as “Yo me baño” or to talk about topics that are a little more complicated like daily routines and hobbies. Here are a few notes to learn how and when to use them:

Using Spanish reflexive verbs as the subject of sentences

This happens when we want to use a reflexive verb as the subject of the sentence, for example: Ejercitarse es bueno (Exercising is good) and Despertarse temprano es difícil. (Waking up early is difficult). Some verbs will not need a reflexive form such as COCINAR (to cook): Cocinar es mi pasatiempo (Cooking is my hobby). COCINAR is what we would call a non-reflexive verb in the language.

Using one or the other depends on what we are trying to say, for example the sentence Bañar al perro es divertido (Bathing my dog is fun) begins with BAÑAR not BAÑARSE because we want the verb to affect the object PERRO not everyone in general unlike Bañarse es divertido (Taking a shower is fun). In other words, when reflexive verbs are used as activities, if the action will affect a specific object then use the verb in infinitive form only.

Spanish reflexive verbs for commands

These verbs can also be used for commands or orders such as “¡Ya es hora! ¡Alístate!” or “¡Cómete toda la comida Alex!” where CÓMETE and ALÍSTATE are verbs in reflexive form. Here we only conjugate the verb following the rules for Spanish regular verbs and then add the corresponding reflexive pronoun at the end. Commands are often used for conjugations in the second person so for a verb like BAÑARSE, we would say Tú bañate, Usted bañese, Vos bañate, Ustedes bañense, Vosotros bañaos.

We can apply this rule with names instead of the pronouns so for Alex (he), we would say Alex bañate, Alex duermete, Alex vístete and so on, all of them ending in the reflexive pronoun -TE. It is important to mention that not all commands will need reflexive verbs, for example: ¡Alex estudia! (not Alex estudiate as it would mean Alex study yourself not Alex study!). The verb CÓMETE that we used in the first example, would be used only as CÓME if we do not have the object LA COMIDA in the sentence: ¡Cóme Alex! or keeping the object ¡Cómete la comida Alex! Be careful

Spanish Reflexive verbs for obligations

Finally, we may use reflexive verbs in Spanish to talk about obligations and chores and to do this it is common to use the irregular verb TENER as in: Yo tengo que alistarme (I have to get ready), Ellos tienen que irse (They have to go) or Tenemos que dormirnos (We have to go to sleep). The biggest difference in this case is that we keep the verb in infinitive form for all subject pronouns, but change the reflexive pronoun at the end depending on the subject of the sentence.

The different uses of Spanish reflexive verbs

Here is the last quiz to practice Spanish reflexive verbs. Complete each of the following sentences or questions with the correct form of the verb. Again, you will receive a tip every time you find a correct answer. Press Start to begin the quiz.
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