Grammar: Verbs - Reflexive Constructions

Grammar: Verbs - Reflexive Constructions

Reflexive Verbs and Their Conjugation

  • Reflexive verbs in Spanish usually show actions performed by the subject upon themselves. They end in -se in their infinitive form, e.g., peinarse (to comb oneself).

  • To conjugate reflexive verbs, drop off the -se and conjugate the verb as you would usually, then add the appropriate reflexive pronoun (me, te, se, nos, or os), which corresponds to the subject of the sentence.

  • For example, ‘yo me peino’ (I brush myself) or ‘ella se peina’ (she brushes herself).

  • Remember that the reflexive pronoun goes before the conjugated verb in normal statements and negative commands - e.g., ‘Yo no me afeito’ (I don’t shave).

  • However, in affirmative commands and when using gerunds or infinitives, it attaches to the end of these - e.g., ‘¡Ándate!’ (Go away!) or ‘Me estoy lavándome’ (I am washing myself).

Meaning and Usage of Reflexive Constructions

  • Some reflexive verbs have different meanings compared to their non-reflexive pairs. For instance, ‘ir’ means ‘to go’ but ‘irse’ means ‘to leave.’

  • Reflexive constructions can also be used to express reciprocal actions between two or more people. Example: Ellos se abrazan (They hug each other).

  • There are also specific verbs, like ‘gustar,’ that always use reflexive pronouns but do not represent an action done onto oneself. In these cases, the reflexive pronoun acts as an indirect object, for example, ‘Me gusta el libro’ (I like the book).

  • Be aware of daily routine and self-care actions, as a vast majority of them use reflexive verbs in Spanish. For example, ‘levantarse’ (to wake/get up), ‘ducharse’ (to shower), ‘vestirse’ (to dress), etc.

Importance of Reflexive Constructions

  • Ensure you have a solid understanding of the reflexive constructions as they are a vital part of Spanish grammar and are frequently used in both oral and written communication.

  • Practice regularly by writing sentences, doing exercises and speaking out loud.