Spanish 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.

Spanish mini-course

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.