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 used very often in everyday conversations, which 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 these verbs, a conjugation chart and interactive quizzes to practice grammar. Comencemos…

Video introduction: Reflexive pronouns and verbs in Spanish

This video makes use of nice graphics and several examples to explain what Spanish reflexive pronouns are and their relationship with subject pronouns. It also explains how to conjugate reflexive verbs in the language to make sentences about daily routines and other topics. All the examples in the video will help you get the best out of this lesson.

The two parts of Spanish reflexive verbs – Los verbos reflexivos

As we mentioned in our lesson for regular verbs, Spanish verbs 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
I take a shower in the morning
Tú te/Vos te – Tú te bañas muy rápido
You bathe very fast
Él se/ Ella se / Usted se – ¿Ella se baña sola?
Does she bathe by herself?
Nosotros nos bañamos en el río
We go swimming in the river
Vosotros os bañáis sin permiso
You take a shower without permission
Los niños se bañan juntos
The children take a shower together

Interactive quiz

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 orthographic 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 infinitive and then just add the correct reflexive pronoun for the subject.

A list of common Spanish reflexive verbs

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

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:

1. 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.

2. 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 báñate, Usted báñese, Vos báñate, Ustedes báñense, Vosotros bañaos.

We can apply this rule with names instead of the pronouns so for Alex (he), we would say Alex báñate, Alex duérmete, 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 COME if we do not have the object LA COMIDA in the sentence: ¡Come Alex! or keeping the object ¡Cómete la comida Alex! Be careful

3. 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.

Interactive quiz

Related Spanish Worksheets:

2 thoughts on “Conjugating and Using Spanish Reflexive Verbs”

  1. This was quite an enjoyable expieience for me. I love to learn and be advantageous in my spanish adventures, and this website and short quiz… DID NOT DISSAPOINT my needs. To add on, I felt as if during this expireince on this website my talents and abilities were not tested, and what is not tested… IS FAILED. Furthermore, I felt as if there were too many flaws within the website, a classmate could simply give you the answers after they took the quiz (I did not do said action). THIS WAS A SATASFACTORY EXPIRIENCE AT BEST.

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