Spanish Spanish Reflexive Verbs

Welcome to the Spanish Reflexive Verbs. To begin, learn some of the reflexive verbs with the audio flash cards, and test your knowledge with the Lingo Dingo review game. You'll be fluent in Spanish in no time!

Spanish mini-course

In English we don’t have reflexive verbs per say so this may be a relatively new concept if you’ve never had Spanish before. To give you an idea of how they work, first we’ll look at a non-reflexive phrase, then compare it to a reflexive phrase.

If I were to say “I look at the cars” in Spanish I would say “Miro los carros”. – This is not reflexive because the subject isn’t repeated twice.

If I were to say “I look at myself”, I would say “Me miro”. – which is reflexive. As stated before, “reflexive” basically means that the subject is repeated twice. For example, in the phrase “I look at myself(arrows to “I” and “myself”), the subject is “I” and it is repeated as “myself”. (arrows also on “me” and the “o” in miro).

Other reflexives would be:

I bathe myself - which in Spanish would be Me baño
I wash myself - which in Spanish would be Me lavo

Let’s see how we conjugate a complete reflexive verb. We’ll use the verb “to wash” or “lavarse”.

I wash myself would be: me lavo We wash ourselves would be: nos lavamos
María you wash yourself would be: te lavas With “vosotros” used only in Spain “You wash yourselves” would be: os laváis
He, she, or you (formal) wash yourself would be: se lava And finally, they or all of you wash yourselves would be:   se lavan

Notice that the conjugations or verb endings are the same, we just add what we call a reflexive pronoun before the verb. To help you memorize them, why don’t you repeat them: me, te, se, nos, se. Like the other verbs, we won’t actively practice with Vosotros but, we will show it so you have an idea of how it works if you are planning to go to Spain. Why don’t you repeat the reflexive pronouns aloud one more time: me, te, se, nos, se.

Just like with the verb “mirar” that we saw earlier that can either be reflexive or not, other verbs are similar. For example, if I said, “I brush her hair” (cepillo su pelo) it wouldn’t be reflexive because the subject “I” isn’t repeated. (arrow to “I” and “her”)  But, if I say “I brush my hair”, the subject (arrows) is repeated twice and it is reflexive.

Now, I’ll give you a few verbs and you try to figure out if they’re reflexive or not. Basically, in English if you can add “myself”, “herself” and so forth after the verb, even though it may not be written, it’s reflexive in Spanish. Are you ready?

I bathe I dry off
I eat I run
I read I shave

When I say “I bathe”, since I can add the phrase “myself”, it is reflexive and I in Spanish it would be “me baño”. When I say “I eat”, since I wouldn’t “eat myself”, it’s not a reflexive verb. What about the next one? “I read” I guess if you wrote all over your arms and read yourself, it would be considered a reflexive verb and you could say “me leo”) Under normal circumstances, I don’t read myself so it would not be a reflexive verb.

Now the next one, “I dry off”. Since you can say I dry “myself” off and it makes sense, it is a reflexive verb and in Spanish would be “me seco”.

Now look at “I run”, since I really couldn’t “run myself”, it is not a reflexive verbs.

Now the last one, “I shave”, since I can shave myself, it is reflexive and would be “me seco”. Remember, if I talk about shaving someone else, it is not reflexive. For example, if I talk about shaving someone in a rest home, I’d say “I shave him”. Since the subject isn’t repeated, (point to I and him), this is not reflexive and would be “afeito a él”. Remember, if I say “I shave”, or “she shaves”, they are reflexive since we can add “myself” or “herself”even though they aren’t said aloud.

Now, the tricky part, as you just saw, is that in English, we don’t always add the repeated subject, but if we can add “myself” or “herself” and it makes sense, then it is a reflexive verb in Spanish.