Spanish reflexive pronouns are words that are used to indicate whom or what will be affected by a verb or action. These types of pronouns are very useful for lots of different topics in the language. They are not the same as reflexive verbs, but both of them are strongly related as we will soon see in this lesson. We have included a chart for reflexive pronouns in Spanish plus many examples and simple explanations on how to use them in real life. Let’s start…
The definition and placement of reflexive pronouns in Spanish
Spanish grammar is a little tricky to explain, so we will ask you to carefully analyse the following definition of Spanish reflexive pronouns:
Reflexive pronouns in Spanish are a special type of pronouns that unlike those such as “Yo, tú…”, do not refer to a subject but an object and indicate who is affected or will be affected by an action (verb), e.g. “(Yo) ME despierto temprano” where the reflexive pronoun “ME” indicates that I am the one waking up early.
In our lesson on reflexive verbs, we explained that reflexive verbs and pronouns are not the same thing. A reflexive verb is simply a verb in infinitive plus a reflexive pronoun, e.g. VERTIRSE, where the verb in infinitive is VESTIR and SE is a pronoun. Take a look at the examples in the following picture including some sentences with the reflexive verb BAÑARSE:
Spanish reflexive pronouns chart and placement
Let’s discuss a little about Spanish reflexive pronouns placement. They are normally placed before a conjugated form of a verb they are related to, just like ME and SE in these two examples: (Yo) me llamo Alex (My name is Alex) and “Ella se acostumbró a su trabajo” (she got used to her job). They will be placed after the ending of a verb to form a reflexive verb like “BAÑARSE” as we saw above. In addition, reflexive pronouns in Spanish will be matched to subject and person, so after a subject pronoun like YO, we will add ME, and after NOSOTROS we will add NOS. Here is a chart for Spanish reflexive pronouns with the person they belong to.
|Subject Pronoun||Reflexive Pronoun||Verb (bañar)|
Making sentences using Spanish reflexive pronouns: examples + audio
Reflexive pronouns in Spanish are used to make clear who is affected by the verb in a sentence. Let’s illustrate this with an example; in the sentence “Yo me baño todos los días“, I am saying that I myself take soap and other things to bathe, that is, the action of “bathing” affects me; On the other hand, if I said “Ellos se bañaron cuando llovía“, then it would mean that the activity of “bathing” affected them or that they did that themselves somehow.
It is important that you know that not all verbs in the language have a reflexive form, so this type of pronouns will not be used in all sentences. Also, note that each personal pronoun has its corresponding reflexive pronoun, as shown in the chart above. If we replace the reflexive pronoun with another that does not correspond to the personal pronoun, then the reflexive pronoun will become an indirect object pronoun, for example:
- “Yo me visto” (where ME is a reflexive pronoun)
- “Yo os ayudo” (where OS is an indirect object pronoun).
Spanish reflexive pronouns are particularly useful when talking about your daily routine, for actions like “Yo me baño” (I take a shower – by myself implicitly), “Tú te bañas” (You take a shower by yourself) and “Ellos se bañan” (They take a shower by themselves). Here are some examples of sentences using Spanish reflexive pronouns properly to talk about different topics. Check how each subject pronoun matches each reflexive pronoun.
Spanish reflexive pronouns examples
BAÑARSE – Yo me baño a las 7 de la mañana
BATHING – I bathe at 7 in the morning
DIVERTIRSE – Ella se divierte con sus amigos
HAVE FUN – She has fun with her friends
CONFUNDIRSE – Tú te confundes todo el tiempo.
CONFUSING – You get confused all the time.
OLVIDARSE – Nosotros nos olvidamos de la tarea
FORGET – We forgot about homework
DESPERTARSE – Vosotros os despertáis tarde siempre
TO WAKE UP – You wake up late always
ENOJARSE – Ellos se enojaron con el presidente
ENOJARSE – They got angry with the president
Grammar quiz: Spanish reflexive pronouns
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¡Hola!. It is quiz time! Now you will be able to practice Spanish reflexive pronouns with some simple exercises. This will help you evaluate if you understood the content of the lesson. Press START when you are ready.
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- Question 1 of 3
Match each subject pronoun with the correct Spanish reflexive pronoun
- Question 2 of 3
Complete these sentences with the correct Spanish reflexive pronoun
- Yo (me) levanto temprano todos los días.
- Él (se) viste rápidamente.
- ¿Vosotros (os) bañáis todos los días?
- Question 3 of 3
Select the sentences that use Spanish reflexive pronouns correctlyCorrectIncorrect
As a final note, we do not need to use reflexive pronouns for all verbs. In fact, knowing when to use them is a challenge for native speakers and we learn to master them as we grow up by making a lot of mistakes. Make sure to check the related lessons and good luck learning Spanish – ¡Hasta pronto!