Spanish Reflexive Pronouns

Overview

Reflexive pronouns are used with a verb to indicate that a person performs an action to or for him/herself. In other words, the subject of the verb and the direct object of the verb are the same person. Therefore, reflexive pronouns match the subject of the verb.

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First of all, what are pronouns? Remember that pronouns are words that take the place of a noun.

In our previous lesson about Subject Pronouns we learned about the pronouns yo, tú, él, ella, usted, nosotros, vosotros, ellos, ellas and ustedes. In this lesson we will talk about a different type of pronoun – Reflexive Pronouns.

Reflexive Pronouns are used when talking about actions performed on, or to, oneself. These pronouns can be paired with the previously mentioned subject pronouns!

How do we know when to use reflexive pronouns? The great thing about reflexive pronouns is that they are always paired with a reflexive verb. We know a verb is a reflexive verb because it will have the ending “se” attached to the infinitive form of the verb. (ex: despertarse, levantarse, bañarse)

The reflexive pronouns are:

MENOS
TEOS
SESE

Notice how these pronouns “live” in the same boxes as the subject pronouns that we know? They also correlate with those subject pronouns. For example, “me” is used in place of “yo” (or in conjunction with it if you prefer). For example, you can say: me despierto (I wake up) or yo me despierto (I wake up).

NOTE: It is helpful to use a subject pronoun with a reflexive pronoun in the case of the reflexive pronoun “se”. Because “se” can refer to él, ella, usted, ellos, ellas or ustedes, it helps to use a subject pronoun to clarify about whom you are speaking. For example, if we were to just say “se ducha”, we would know someone is taking a shower, but it could be él, ella or usted! (*we know it’s not ellos, ellas or ustedes based on the ending of the verb – see how there is no “N” on the end?). So, to clarify we would add “ella se ducha” to say, “she takes a shower”. 

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Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

The CEFR is an international standard used to describe language ability. Here are specific details of the CEFR for this topic.

General Explanation:
Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type. Can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/she has. Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.
Specific Capabilities at this Level
Writing:
I can write a short, simple postcard, for example sending holiday greetings. I can fill in forms with personal details, for example entering my name, nationality and address on a hotel registration form.
Spoken Production:
I can use simple phrases and sentences to describe where I live and people I know.
Spoken Interaction:
I can interact in a simple way provided the other person is prepared to repeat or rephrase things at a slower rate of speech and help me formulate what I’m trying to say. I can ask and answer simple questions in areas of immediate need or on very familiar topics.
Reading:
I can understand familiar names, words and very simple sentences, for example on notices and posters or in catalogues.
Listening:
I can recognize familiar words and very basic phrases concerning myself, my family and immediate concrete surroundings when people speak slowly and clearly.