Reflexive & Reciprocal Verbs

Beginner Spanish Grammar Lesson

Verbos reflexivos y reciprocales en español.

Reflexive verbs in Spanish are used to indicate actions that are performed on oneself. For example: "Me lavo", - I wash myself. Thus the verb "lavar" means "to wash" and the verb "lavarse" means "to wash oneself".

The form of the reflexive verb in Spanish is the personal pronoun + reflexive pronoun + verb in its correct conjugation. For example:

Personal Pronoun Reflexive Pronoun Verb Form Meaning
Yo me lavo I wash myself
te lavas Tu te lavas
El/Usted se lava El se lava
Nosotros nos lavamos
Vosotros os lavaís
Ellos/Ustedes se lavan

Reflexive pronouns in the infinitive

The reflexive verb in Spanish also has a different form when used in the infinitive. For example: "Voy a acostarME" - I am going to lie down. "Vamos a acostarNOS" - We are going to lie down.
In this situation the reflexive pronoun is attached to the end of the verb.

There can be two ways of saying the same thing using the reflexive form of a verb.

Me puedo vestir Puedo vestirme I can dress myself
¿Te quieres bañar? ¿Quieres bañarte? Do you want to bathe?

Reflexive pronouns in the imperative

With the imperative form, the reflexive pronoun is added to the end of the conjugated reflexive verb. For example:

¡Acuéstate! Lie down! (familiar form)
¡Vamonos! Let's go!
¡Vírense! Turn around! (plural form)

The most common reflexive verbs

Verb Meaning Verb Meaning
Aburrirse to be bored Reirse to laugh
Despertarse to wake up Afeitarse to shave
Callarse to be quiet Dedicarse to dedicate oneself
Enojarse to be annoyed Quitarse to take off
Acostarse to lie down Acordarse to remember
Despedirse to say goodbye Maquillarse to put on makeup
Bañarse to bathe Olvidarse to forget (about)
Taparse to cover oneself up Probarse to try (something) on
Ducharse to shower Ponerse to put on
Volverse to become Enfermarse to become ill
Peinarse to comb one's hair Mirarse to look at oneself
Colocarse to place oneself Presentarse to present oneself
Preguntarse to ask oneself Comprarse to buy (for oneself)
Subirse to go up Alegrarse to be happy about
Levantarse to get up Morirse to die
Sentirse to feel Conformarse to put up with

Some more examples of reflexive verbs in Spanish in use

Me llamo Miguel I am Miguel (literally "I call myself Miguel")
Me despierto a las 7 am. I wake up at 7 am.
Ellos se sienten incomodos. They feel uncomfortable.
Nos aburrimos esperando tanto tiempo. We get bored waiting for so long.
Se enojan por la demora They get annoyed because of the delay.
¿Ustedes no se acuerdan de mi? Don't you remember me?
Me alegro que estás aquí I am happy you are here.

Reciprocal Verbs in Spanish

The same form of verb construction is used for reciprocal verbs in Spanish. Reciprocal verbs imply a sharing or doing something together, with or for someone. Thus it is used in the plural forms "nosotros" "vosotros" "ellos/ellas". For example:

Nos vemos cada día en el colegio We see each other every day in college.
Ellos se llaman los fines de semana They call each other every weekend
La pareja se quiere mucho. The couple loves each other very much.
Vosotros dos se parecen mucho. You two look a lot like each other

Interactive Exercise 1

Ejercicio. Completa las oraciones con la forma correcta del verbo reflexivo.

1. Las muchachas (ponerse) de acuerdo para salir en la noche. quiz answer

2. El gato (limpiarse) con su lengua. quiz answer

3. ¡(Callarse - familiar form) mientras habla el profesor! quiz answer

4. Yo estoy seguro que no (sentirse) enfermo hoy. quiz answer

5. ¿Tu (acordarse) del nombre del señor alto? quiz answer

Interactive Exercise 2

Complete the sentences with the correct form of the reflexive or reciprocal verb.

Note: Try to use the correct written accents if you can e.g.: á, é, í, ó, ú, ñ, ü.

If you don't know the correct answer, type '?' to reveal it.

1. Yo  quiz answer (irse) al gimnasio esta noche.

2. ¿Tú  quiz answer (sentirse) bien hoy?

3. Él siempre  quiz answer (colocarse) en el primer puesto cada día.

4. Ella dice que  quiz answer (bañarse) dos veces por día.

5. Nosotras  quiz answer (mirarse) siempre en estos espejos.

6. Al estar listos para salir siempre decimos "  quiz answer ". (irse)

7. Vosotros  quiz answer (vestirse) siempre de la misma forma.

8. Ellas  quiz answer (despedirse) con un beso cada día.

9. Ellos  quiz answer (preguntarse) ¿porqué no hay clases hoy?

10. Por favor, ¡  quiz answer (quitarse) este sombrero ridiculo!

Topics covered in this lesson

Reflexive verbs in Spanish, reciprocal verbs in Spanish - common usage.



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