Spanish Reflexive Verbs


A verb is reflexive when the subject and the object are the same.. Another way to think of it is when the subject is doing something to itself, it is reflexive. When the subject is doing something to someone or something else, it is not reflexive.

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We have learned about regular verbs in Spanish and how to conjugate them in our previous module Regular -AR Verbs, but today we will go one step further as we learn about Reflexive Verbs in Spanish and how to conjugate them!

  • First, what is a reflexive verb?
    A reflexive verb is used when an action is done to oneself. For example: to shower oneself, to wake oneself up.
  • How do you know if a verb is a Reflexive Verb?
    In Spanish, every reflexive verb will end in “se” in its infinitive form. For example: acostarse, peinarse, estirarse.
  • Now, how do we conjugate these reflexive verbs?

Conjugating reflexive verbs is very similar to conjugating regular Spanish verbs but we will add just two easy steps.

  1. Determine the subject of the sentence
  2. “Chop” off the “se” from the end of the verb and move it to the front
  3. Adjust the reflexive pronoun “se” to match the subject of the sentence (see our previous lesson for a review on how to do this LINK LESSON HERE)
  4. “Chop” off the infinitive ending (-ar, -er, -ir)
  5. Add back the appropriate ending based on the subject (see our previous lesson about conjugating verbs in the present tense HERE)

See these steps in action here:
Example sentence: Yo __________ (ducharse) todos los días.

  1. Subject: Yo
  2. Ducharse –> Se duchar
  3. Se duchar –>  Me duchar
  4. Me duchar –>  Me duch__
  5. Me duch__ –>  Me ducho

Watch this verb transform again here:
(yo) ducharse
(yo) se duchar
(yo) me duchar
(yo) me ducho

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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.
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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.
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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.
I can understand familiar names, words and very simple sentences, for example on notices and posters or in catalogues.
I can recognize familiar words and very basic phrases concerning myself, my family and immediate concrete surroundings when people speak slowly and clearly.