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Spanish Two Verb Reflexives

If you’ve taken our Level I course, you learned how to put together sentences in Spanish using two verbs. You learned how to say phrases like, “I want to go”, “She needs to eat” and so forth. Now, we’ll learn how put together two-verb phrases using reflexive verbs.

Do you remember what a reflexive pronoun is? It is the “me, se, te, or nos” that goes along with a reflexive verb. Now, we’ll talk about where the pronoun goes if we use two verbs. You’ve already learned that with one reflexive verb, the pronoun goes before the verb. Some examples are “I get dressed” or “Me visto” and “I brush my hair” or “me cepillo el pelo”. With two-verb phrases, the reflexive pronoun can go either before or after both verbs. Putting the reflexive pronoun after the verb is neither more common nor more correct than putting it before. You can do it either way correctly, and native speakers will also vary the way they do it seemingly according to how they feel or by habit. Let me show you what I mean with a few examples:

The phrase “They need to sit down” can either be:

Se necesitan sentar

Or

Necesitan sentarse

Notice that the “se” can either go before or after the two verbs. Also notice that if the “se” goes after both verbs, it connects or hooks directly onto the second verb.

Let’s look at a few more.

The phrase “She has to stay here” can either be:

Se tiene que quedar aquí

Or

Tiene que quedarse aquí

The phrase “I don’t want to get sick” can either be:

No me quiero enfermar

Or

No quiero enfermarme



Take just a minute to absorb this rule for learning Spanish, and notice where the reflexive pronouns can be placed. Remember, they can either go before a 2-verb phrase or after a 2-verb phrase but never between both verbs. Even though they can either go before or after both verbs, and both are equally correct. Just to simplify, we’ll practice with them afterwards in the following lessons.

The only exception to this rule is using the verb “gustar”.

The phrase “They like to complain” can only be:

Les gusta quejarse

The “se” can only come after both verbs.

And now the phrase “He doesn’t like to get up.” Or

No le gusta levantarse

Again, like the last one, the “se” can only come after both verbs when you use “gustar”.


Even though most reflexive pronouns can come before or after a 2-verb phrase (except with “gustar”), as I mentioned before, throughout this course, to simplify we’ll always put them after both verbs.

Now we’ll have a verbal quiz on this concept using the reflexive verbs you have learned. Read the English phrase then say aloud the Spanish translation.

I want  to stay here.

Quiero quedarme aquí

(Juanita) You need to shower

Necesitas ducharte

He can’t break his arm

No puede romperse el brazo

She doesn’t like to get sick    

No le gusta enfermarse

(Dr. Olivares) You ought to brush your hair  

Debe cepillarse el pelo

She hopes to get married to Alberto

Espera casarse con Alberto

They prefer to bathe every day

Prefieren bañarse todos los días

We must get (ourselves) ready

Debemos arreglarnos

I desire to meet with them today                   

Deseo reunirme con ellos hoy

I want to complain     

Quiero quejarme

(Juanita) You need to say goodbye

Necesitas despedirte

He can to have fun there        

Puede divertirse allí

We like to sit down    

Nos gusta sentarnos

(Mrs. Olivares) You ought to wake up                      

Debe despertarse


If you feel comfortable with this section, please feel free to move on to the next lesson.  Otherwise, you can repeat this one until you are ready.

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