How to conjugate & use Spanish reflexive verbs in sentences

Spanish reflexive verbs are a special type of verbs in Spanish that are used to indicate an action that has a direct effect on the subject of the sentence. Spanish reflexive verbs are connected to reflexive pronouns, but there are some differences between them. In this lesson we will learn how to conjugate reflexive verbs in Spanish and when to use them in their different forms in questions and sentences.

What are reflexive verbs in Spanish? ¿Qué son los verbos reflexivos?

First, reflexive verbs in Spanish represent an action that affects the same subject of the sentence when they are conjugated. Sometimes they may be used to refer to some activities in general, for example: “ejercitarse” (to exercise) or “bañarse”. Spanish verbs usually end in “ar”, “er” and “ir” in their infinitive form, but reflexive verbs end in “se” in their basic form. Notice that “Se” is a reflexive pronoun in Spanish and this pronoun may change depending on what we are trying to say. We could transform any simple verb into a reflexive verb, but sometimes it would not make sense. The following picture shows how we can create reflexive verb in Spanish and two different ways to use them. Click on the picture to enlarge it.

How to conjugate reflexive verbs in Spanish

Reflexive verbs in Spanish

The rules to conjugate reflexive verbs in Spanish (chart, list + examples)

Conjugating Spanish reflexive verbs is very easy to do if we already know how to conjugate Spanish regular verbs. As we have explained in a different lesson, the ending of Spanish verbs changes depending on the subject of the sentence. Apart from changing the form of the verb, we add a Spanish reflexive pronoun before the conjugated verb. It is possible to omit the subject pronoun in the sentences, but not the reflexive pronoun or else they would sound awkward. The following table shows how we conjugate the verb “Bañarse” (to take a shower):

Subject pronoun Spanish reflexive pronoun Example Listen
Yo Me Yo me baño en la mañana
Tú, Vos Te te bañas muy rápido
Él, ella, usted Se ¿Ella se baña sola?
Nosotros Nos Nosotros nos bañamos en el río
Vosotros Os Vosotros os bañáis sin permiso
Ellos, ustedes Se Los niños se bañan juntos

Other important and common reflexive verbs in Spanish that can be conjugated like this verb are: “Vestirse” (to get dressed), “Dormirse” (to go to sleep), “Alistarse” (to get ready), “Irse” (to go), “Ponerse” (to put on), “Quitarse” (to take off), “encontrarse” (to meet), “mirarse” (to see), enojarse (to get angry), “meterse” (to get in), “salirse” (to get out), “gustar” (to like) and “Llamarse” (to be named). There are many other verbs and some of them are presented in other Spanish lessons.

Practicing the conjugations of reflexive verbs in Spanish

This is a quiz about reflexive verbs in Spanish and the way we conjugate them. Choose the best answer for each question in the quiz from the given options. You will receive a tip about “verbos reflexivos” every time you find a correct answer. Press Start to begin the quiz.
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When do you use reflexive verbs in Spanish?

Apart from using reflexive pronouns in simple sentences like the ones presented previously, we could use them by themselves without separating the verb and the reflexive pronoun.

1. We use Spanish reflexive verbs to talk about some activities that affect us directly in general, using the verb in infinitive plus “se”, for example: “Ejercitarse es bueno” (Exercising is good) and “Despertarse temprano es algo difícil para mi” (Waking up early is something difficult for me). Be careful because not all Spanish sentences begin with a reflexive verb. It always depends on what we are trying to say, for example “Bañar al perro es divertido” (Bathing my dog is fun) begins differently to “Es necesario bañarse todos los días” (It´s necessary to take a shower every day).

2. Reflexive verbs in Spanish may be used in Spanish commands like “¡Ya es hora! ¡Alístate!” or “¡Cómete toda la comida Alex!” where “Cómete” and “Alístate” are reflexive verbs in Spanish. In this case we conjugate the verb following the rules for Spanish regular verbs and then add the corresponding reflexive pronoun at the end, for example: “¡Karla, bañate!” (Karla, take a shower!), “¡Chicos, vistanse!” (Guys, get dressed!). Notice that the way we conjugate the verb for the pronoun “Ellos” is kind of different in this case because we do not say “vistense”, from “Ellos se visten”, but “vistanse”. Following this pattern, we would say “duermanse” not “duermense” and so on. Finally, some of these verbs are also stem changing verbs in Spanish or irregular verbs so be careful with the conjugations you use.

3. Spanish reflexive verbs may be used to talk about obligations in Spanish and to do this it is common to use the Spanish irregular verb “tener”, for example: “Yo tengo que alistarme” (I have to get ready), “Ellos tienen que irse” (They have to go) or “Tenemos que dormirnos”. 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.

Using reflexive verbs in Spanish sentences and questions

It’s time to practice a little more about reflexive verbs in Spanish with another quiz. Complete each of the following sentences or questions with the correct form of the Spanish reflexive verb. Again, you will receive a tip every time you find a correct answer. Press Start to begin the quiz.
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