reflexive verbs spanish

Reflexive Verbs Spanish: The Ultimate Guide (+ Tons of Examples)

Reflexive verbs are way more common in Spanish than in English. They’re used when you do something yourself, to yourself, when some sort of change happens and many other situations where native English speakers wouldn’t expect a reflexive verb.

In this article, you’re going to learn some of the most common reflexive verbs, how to conjugate them, and (most importantly) tons of examples that’ll show reflexive verbs in action in conversations!

¡Prepárate! (Prepare!)

What are the 10 most common reflexive verbs Spanish?

Before learning how to use reflexive verbs, let’s build your toolbox with 10 reflexive verbs you will definitely use almost every day. They are used by native speakers all the time and will help you not only to communicate with Spanish speakers but will also help you describe common tasks.

Let’s take a look at the following table.

SpanishEnglish
IrseTo leave
AcordarseTo remember
SentirseTo feel
DarseTo give (oneself)
EncontrarseTo find (oneself)
QuedarseTo stay
PonerseTo put on
ImaginarseTo imagine
HacerseTo make yourself
VerseTo see oneself

The first thing that might look interesting to you is that all reflexive verbs end in “-se”: a reflexive pronoun.

This specific pronoun is used when you talk about the verb itself in the infinitive or you use it as a noun: in other words, when you talk about the activity itself. There are other reflexive pronouns too; more about that in a second.

Let’s see some chunks below.

SpanishEnglish
Verse al espejo, a veces, no es tarea facilLooking at yourself in the mirror is, sometimes, not an easy task.
Hacerse el tontoPlaying yourself the dumb
Irse de casa no es facilLeaving home isn’t easy
Encontrarse a uno mismoFinding yourself
Ponerse la mejor pintaPutting on the best outfit

All of the phrases above are pretty common expressions among native speakers. Let’s take for example “ponerse la mejor pinta”. You can use it to express that you are a well-dressed individual. Or, just to talk about the action of getting well dressed. Let’s see an example below.

Ponerse la mejor pinta para ir de fiesta es la mejor decision que puedes tomar. (Putting on the best outfit to go partying is the best decision you can make.)

Reflexive Pronouns

Reflexive verbs are reflexive because they’re with reflexive pronouns. Let’s take a look at the table below to understand what reflexive pronouns are.

Personal PronounsReflexive Pronouns
Yome
te
El/Ella/ Ustedse
Nosotros/ Nosotrasnos
Vosotrosos
Ellos/Ellas/ Ustedesse

So how do you combine these pronouns together with the verbs?

Let’s take a look at some Spanish phrases.

SpanishEnglish
Me mordí la lenguaI bit my tongue
Te vas caminando a casaYou walk home
Se dió cuenta de muchas cosasHe/ She realized many things
Nos encontramos en el centro comercialWe are/meet at the mall
Se pusieron tristes al despedirseThey were sad to say goodbye

As you may see, in most cases, the reflexive pronoun goes before the verb. In some scenarios, the reflexive pronoun will go after and together with the verb.

Let’s take a look at a specific example.

Conjugating reflexive verbs – comerse

Now, the time has come. Let’s learn how to conjugate reflexive verbs using Spanish chunks using the verb comerse (to eat).

The reflexive form of I eat, in Spanish, is “Comerse”.

But, to conjugate it, we have to remove the reflexive pronoun -se and put it before the verb. Then, we would have “Yo se comer”.

Comer, on the other hand, is the infinitive form of the verb. To build a correct sentence, you must change it to match the personal pronoun “yo”: “Yo se como”.

Almost there, but not quite. To conjugate correctly, you not only need to change the verb, but also the reflexive pronoun to match the personal pronoun.  “I eat” would be “Yo me como” and that’s it!

For example:

Yo me como una hamburguesa. (I eat a hamburger.)

Please note that saying in English “I eat a hamburger myself” would be redundant and, for that reason, English speakers don’t do it. In Spanish, it’s very common, though.

I’ve explained the conjugation process step by step above, but of course, if you have to think through all the steps every time you’re in a Spanish conversation, it’ll take you ages to build sentences.

That’s why I recommend you learn chunks instead: word combinations native speakers use all the time and that you can imprint on your brain as a whole.

Learning chunks is the cornerstone of my language learning method, Conversation Based Chunking™. It has helped me learn 6 languages and I’ve taught the method to hundreds of thousands of language students so far (at conferences, in webinars, and through my language learning book).

If you’d like to learn more about Conversation Based Chunking™, don’t hesitate to request your free Spanish Chunking Starter Pack with a chunking walkthrough video, examples of Spanish chunks, lists of recommended resources, and more.

More chunks with Reflexive Verbs Spanish

SpanishEnglish
¿Te ves más alto?Do you see yourself taller?
Ellos se meten con todo el mundo.They annoy everyone.
Vamonos de aquí.Let’s get out of here.
Se volvió muy divertido.It became pretty fun.

Please note that in the second reflexive chunk above, there’s the verb “meter” which often means “to put inside”. However, when used as a reflexive, its meaning changes and can be the Spanish equivalent to “annoy”. So, it’s not surprising that many verbs change their meaning when used in a reflexive way.

How do you know if a Spanish verb is reflexive?

This probably has been a question you have kept in your head the whole explanation. Let’s answer it in a simple way. Reflexive verbs are the ones that you can use to indicate that you or someone is performing an action on yourself, himself or herself. As you have seen they go together with reflexive pronouns. Always. You can't have one without the other.

Alright then. Let’s have a look at a few more Spanish reflexive sentences.

SpanishEnglish
Me lavo la cara antes de dormirI wash my face before bed
Nos bañamos en la piscina ayerWe swam in the pool yesterday
Se durmieron muy tardeThey went to bed very late

Conclusion

There are several ways to conjugate reflexive verbs in Spanish. You can either use the reflexive pronoun before the verb or use it right after (and together) the verb. Reflexive verbs are everywhere and can indeed help you express your thoughts in a better way.

Learning Spanish chunks with reflexive verbs (and learning chunks in general) is essential if you seek to speak like a native. Make sure to request your free Spanish Chunking Starter Pack to start your journey of learning Spanish with chunks today!

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