When you hear the phrase “Spanish reflexive verbs,” what comes to mind? Do you have an immediate example in mind? Or you don’t like thinking about this topic? There’s no need to panic, no matter how you react. Because reflexive verbs are so common in everyday Spanish, chances are you already know some.

Verbs are action-expressing words. They end in -ar, er, or -ir in Spanish before being conjugated to match the subject. The person, place, or thing doing something is the subject of a sentence. In Spanish, identifying the subject is especially important because the verb conjugation changes depending on the subject.

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Pronouns are words that replace nouns in sentences. In the example below, ella replaces “Maria” in the second sentence:

– Maria tiene que ir a la escuela hoy. Ella se olvidó sus libros en el aula

All you need to know about reflexive verbs are those three parts of speech. Reflexive verbs in Spanish are a type of verb that refers back to the subject. The name itself provides an explanation: reflexive verbs and pronouns reflect back to the subject who is performing the action. As a result, the conjugation always corresponds to the subject of the sentence: We left early from the concert. (We had to leave the concert early.)

In Spanish, there are five reflexive pronouns:

– me

– te

– se

– nos

– os

The most common Spanish reflexive verbs

Below are the most common Spanish reflexive verbs:

– Irse (to leave)

– Acordarse (to remember)

– Olvidarse (to forget)

– Sentirse (to feel)

– Darse (to give oneself)

– Encontrarse (to find oneself)

– Preocuparse (to worry)

– Fijarse (to take notice)

– Casarse (to marry)

– Sentarse (to sit down)

– Levantarse (to get up)

– Despertarse (to wake up oneself)

– Preguntarse (to wonder)

– Llamarse (to call oneself)

– Creerse (to believe)

– Reunirse (to meet up or reunite)

– Cuidarse (to take care)

When to use Spanish reflexive verbs?

There are five types of reflexive verbs: routines, motion, emotions, reciprocals, and verbs that are always reflexive.

Routine: These verbs include despertarse, peinarse, and levantarse, which describe daily routines such as getting up and getting ready.

Motion: Some verbs, like irse, describe motion or movement.

Emotions: Many emotions, such as aburrirse, preocuparse, and crearse, have reflexive forms.

Reciprocals: Reciprocals are only reflexive in their plural forms, implying that two or more people are doing something together or to each other, as in casarse or encontrarse.

Always reflexive: A few Spanish verbs, such as quejarse de (to complain about), darse cuenta de (to realise), and arrepentirse (to repent), are always reflexive.

The best way to learn Spanish is to practice with examples. We recommend you explore the examples carrying such verbs. They will give you more clarity and command of Spanish reflexive verbs.

Where do you place Spanish reflexive pronouns?

In most cases, the reflexive pronouns are placed directly in front of the reflexive verb. But, that’s not for all cases:

In reality, you have two options for pronoun placement.

Option 1: Before the verb

Except for affirmative commands, reflexive pronouns come before the verb, compound tense, or construction in all tenses or moods.

In these examples, the reflexive pronoun comes before the entire verb phrase when estar or haber form the full conjugation:

– In the subjunctive: Quiero que te diviertas. (I want you to have fun.)

– In the progressive: Se están quedando aquí. (They are staying here.)

– In the perfect tense: Ya me había mudado. (I had already moved.)

– In negative commands: No te preocupes. (Don’t worry.)

– In the popular future: Nos vamos a casar. (We are going to get married.)

Option 2: After the verb

In a few cases, the reflexive pronoun is attached to the end of the reflexive verb:

– In affirmative commands: ¡Cálmate! (Calm down!)

– With gerunds: Están quedándose aquí. (They are staying here.)

– With the infinitive: Vamos a casarnos. (We are going to get married)

You may have noticed that the last two examples, the gerund, and infinitive, are variations on sentences from Option 1. That’s because gerunds and infinitives allow you to use either placement option.

How to master Spanish reflexive verbs?

Knowing the difference between reflexive and non-reflexive versions of the same verb is essential for truly mastering reflexive verbs in Spanish.

Because the phrase “get bored” does not exist in Spanish, aburrir/aburrirse is a good example to consider:

– Te aburrirías con las clases. (You would get bored with these classes.)

Boredom reflects back on you in this case. Because you are becoming bored, the reflexive verb (aburrirse) is appropriate. However, if you want to say that the class is boring, you do not need to use the reflexive form of the pronoun:

– La clase te aburriría. (The class would bore you.)

In this case, the class is the subject, and no pronoun is required to reflect back to the subject. Here are some more examples to help you decide whether or not to use the reflexive form:

– Juan y Tatiana se acordaron de la primera vez que fueron al restaurante. (Juan and Tatiana remembered the first time they went to the restaurant.)

– Juan y Tatiana acordaron el restaurante para la fiesta. (Juan and Tatiana agreed on the restaurant for the party.)

The meaning of acordar and acordarse changes completely depending on whether the reflexive form of the verb is used. Acordar is a verb that means to agree. In contrast, acordarse means to recall.

Here are a few more verbs whose reflexive forms have completely different meanings:

– dormir (to sleep)/dormirse (to fall asleep)

– poner (to put)/ponerse (to put on)

– probar (to try)/probarse (to try on)

– quitar (to take away)/quitarse (to take off)

– llevar (to carry)/llevarse (to take)

– volver (to return)/volverse (to turn around)

It is also important for you to learn Spanish grammar as grammar is the backbone of every language. You may feel grammar confusing and difficult at first but you need to learn it if you truly want to master the language.

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Frequently asked questions

Q. What are the rules in Spanish for reflexive verbs?

A. In Spanish, reflexive verbs are used when a person performs an action to or for himself/herself. For example, I wake up (myself), he gets dressed (himself), and she showers (herself), and so on. In other words, the reflexive verb’s subject and direct object are the same.

Q. What are the two steps to using reflexive verbs?

A. Reflexive verbs are formed with two main parts. The main verb is who is performing the action, and the reflexive pronoun is who the action is directed at.

Q. What is one method for identifying reflexive verbs?

A. A reflexive verb is easily identified when its infinitive form has the ending -se attached to it, for example, despertarse (to wake oneself up), and they are generally used to describe the subject’s daily routines.


Mastering Spanish reflexive verbs take time and practice. We have mentioned a few examples in this guide to help you understand these verbs. Look for similar examples to master reflexive verbs.

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