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Reflexive verbs express that the subject of the sentence does the action to himself/herself (e.g., I introduced myself to the class.) In Spanish, -se at the end of an infinitive indicates that the verb is reflexive (levantarse/ to get up). When conjugated, the verb is followed by a reflexive pronoun.

Note that each subject of the verb has a corresponding reflexive pronoun as follows:

Yo me visto./I get dressed, I dress myself.
te vistes./ You get dressed, you dress yourself.
Usted se viste./ You get dressed, you dress yourself.
Él se viste./ He gets dressed, he dresses himself.
Ella se viste./ She gets dressed, she dresses herself.
Nosotros nos vestimos./ We get dressed, we dress ourselves.
Vosotros os vestís./ You get dressed, you dress yourselves.
Ellos se visten./ They get dressed, they dress themselves.
Uds. se visten./ You get dressed, you dress yourselves.


I. Reflexive pronouns are positioned in a sentence in the following manners; keep in mind that in English, many verbs have reflexive meanings that are not expressed, but understood:

1. Before a conjugated verb

  • Juan se queda en la reunión./ Juan stays in the meeting.

2. Before a verb in negative command

  • No te quedes en la reunión./ Don't stay in the meeting.

3. After a gerund or before the verb estar

  • Juan está comiéndose una manzana./ Juan is eating an apple.
  • Juan se está comiendo una manzana./ Juan is eating an apple.

4. After an infinitive or before the main verb

  • No quería levantarme esta mañana./ I didn't want to get up this morning.
  • No me quería levantar esta mañana./ I didn't want to get up this morning.

5. At the end of the verb in an affirmative command

  • Siéntense, niños./ Children, sit down.

NOTE: In commands addressed to nosotros, the final -s is omitted and -nos is added.

  • Alegrémonos./ Let's rejoice.
  • No nos alegremos./ Let's not rejoice.

6. Before a direct object pronoun:

  • Te lavaste las manos? Sí, me las lavé./ Did you wash your hands? Yes, I did wash them.

LESSONS: Insurance I & Insurance Ia.

II. In a reflexive construction, since the reflexive pronoun identifies who does the action, possession is understood; therefore, the definitive article is used rather than the possessive adjective, which is the case in English.


  • Tienes que cortarte el pelo./ You need to get cut your hair (You need a haircut).
  • Mi esposo se baña y se lave la cara./ My husband bathes (himself) and washes his face.

III. Sentir (se)/ to feel is reflexive when used with an adjective and non-reflexive when used with a noun.


  • Mi madre se siente aburrida./ My mother feels bored.
  • Mi madre siente aburrimiento./ My mother feel boredom.
LESSONS: Insurance II & Insurance IIa.

IV. The following verbs are typically used in a reflexive construction:

Acostarse/ to go to bed
Afeitarse o rasurarse/ to shave
Bañarse/ to bathe
Callarse/ to stop talking
Despertarse/ to wake up

Ducharse/ to take a shower

Levantarse/ to get up
Peinarse/ to comb one's hair
Ponerse/ to put on
Probarse/ to try on
Quedarse/ to remain, to stay
Quitarse o sacarse/ to take off
Sentarse/ to sit down

V. The following verbs have slightly different meanings when used in their reflexive form:

Abonar/ to pay abonarse/to subscribe
Acordar/ to agree to acordarse/ to remember
Acostar/ to put, to bed acostarse/ to go to bed
Alegrar/ to cheer up alegrarse/ to be glad, to rejoice
Burlar/ to deceive burlarse/ to make fun of
Casar/ to marry casarse/ to get married
Conducir/ to drive conducirse/ to behave
Despedir/ to dismiss despedirse/ to say goodbye
Detener/ to detain detenerse/ to stop
Dirigir/ to direct dirigirse/ to address
Dormir/ to sleep dormirse/ to fall asleep
Encontrar/ to find encontrarse/ to be located, to meet
Hacer/ to make hacerse/ to be
Ir/ to go irse/ to leave
Levantar/ to lift levantarse/ to get up
Llamar/ to call llamarse/ to be named
Llevar/ to carry, take llevarse/ to take away
Negar/ to deny negarse/ to refuse
Parecer/ to seem, appear parecerse/ to look like
Poner/ to place, to put ponerse/ to wear, to put on, to become
Probar/ to taste probarse/ to try on
Quitar/ to take away quitarse/ to take off
Volver/ to return volverse/ to become, to turn around

LESSONS: Insurance III & Insurance IIIa.

VI. The following verbs are used with a reflexive pronoun but do not have a reflexive meaning:

Arrepentirse (de)/ to repent
Asomarse / to look out of
Atreverse (a)/ to dare
Darse cuenta (de)/ to realize
Empeñarse (en)/ to insist on
Enterarse (de)/ to find out (about)
Equivocarse/ to make a mistake
Portarse bien/ to behave
Portarse mal/ to misbehave
Quejarse (de)/ to complain
Tratarse (de)/ to be related to an issue (This is only for the 3rd person)
Resignarse/ to resign

LESSONS: Insurance IV & Insurance IVa.

VII. In Spanish there are 3 different ways of expressing the English to become or to be.

1. Volverse/ to become is used to refer to a change in physical or emotional state, but it denotes a sudden change.


  • La madre se volvió loca cuando el hijo fue asesinado./ The mother (became) went crazy when her son was killed.
  • El cielo se volvió negro antes de llover./ The sky (became dark) darkened before raining.

    2. Ponerse / to be, to become is used refer to physical or emotional changes.


  • Nos pusimos contentos cuando ganamos el partido./ We (became) were happy when we won the game.
  • Sofía se puso triste cuando el novio se fue a la Argentina./ Sofía (became) was sad when her boyfriend left to Argentina.

    3. Hacerse/ to be, become is used to indicate personal effort.


  • Me haré famoso después de esta película./ I'll become famous after this movie.
  • Liliana se hará doctora después de tanto estudiar./ Liliana will (become) be a doctor after so much studying.

LESSONS: Insurance V & Insurance Va.


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