Reflexive Verbs and Pronouns

Understanding Reflexive Verbs and Pronouns

  • Reflexive Verbs and Pronouns in Spanish work differently from English. Here, the action of the verb is reflected back on the subject or doer.
  • In Spanish, reflexive verbs usually end in ‘se’ in their infinitive form, like peinarse (to comb oneself), lavarse (to wash oneself), despertarse (to wake up), etc.

Conjugating Reflexive Verbs

  • Each conjugated form of a reflexive verb requires a corresponding reflexive pronoun:
    • Yo - me (me)
    • Tú - te (you informal)
    • Él/ella/usted - se (he/she/you formal)
    • Nosotros/nosotras - nos (we/us)
    • Vosotros/vosotras - os (you all informal)
    • Ellos/ellas/ustedes - se (they, you all formal)

Placement of Reflexive Pronouns

  • Reflexive pronouns usually go before the verb. For example: “Yo me peino” translates to “I comb my hair”.
  • However, in the case of infinitives, gerunds, and affirmative commands, the reflexive pronoun attaches to the end of the verb – For example: “Voy a peinarme” (I’m going to comb my hair), “Estoy peinándome” (I’m combing my hair), “Peínate” (Comb your hair).

The Effect of Reflexive Usage on Meaning

  • Some verbs change meaning when they are reflexive. For instance, ‘ir’ generally means ‘to go’, but ‘irse’ can mean ‘to go away’ or ‘to leave’.
  • Using reflexive verbs correctly is important for conveying the right meaning and for clarity, as in Spanish much more is expressed through verb conjugation than in English.

Importance of Practice

Remember to practice conjugation and usage of reflexive verbs by writing, speaking, listening and reading in Spanish! The key to mastering them is frequent and varied practice.