I have been toiling to fully grasp the use of reflexive verbs in Spanish. So, I have decided to write this post in the hope that by explaining it here, the process of learning languages will be a little easier.

Hugo in Three Months: Spanish available from US and UK Amazon stores.

Flamenco Guitarist Learning Languages
Flamenco Guitarist

I have been studying Spanish for a number of years. Initially, because I harboured aspirations to retire to Spain, but, subsequently, because I have discovered that the process of learning a new language has enormous potential for overcoming the brain fog associated with multiple sclerosis.

Yes, I do have MS but, that is not relevant to this post. So, I shall mention it no more.

Learning languages with Reflexive Verbs

While reflexive verbs might seem like an unlikely topic for a blog post, it is a very useful topic for language understanding.

When the object of the verb is the same person or thing as its subject the verb is called reflexive. These are much more common in Spanish than in English.

Reflexive Pronouns

PronounEnglish Meaning
memyself
teyourself
sehimself, herself, itself, yourself (pol.)
nosourselves
osyourselves
sethemselves, themselves (pol. plu.}

The third person of the reflexive pronoun se , is attached to the infinitive of verbs which are reflexive.

Verb InfinitiveEnglish Meaning
lavarseto wash oneself
sentarse (ie)to sit down (to sit oneself)
dormirseto go to sleep (to sleep oneself)

present tense of lavarse:

me lavo (myself I wash)
te lavas (yourself you wash)
se lava (himself he washes)
nos lavamos (ourselves we wash)
os lavais (yourselves you wash)
se lavan (themselves they wash)

Regarding their position, reflexive pronouns follow the same rules as object pronouns.

By presenting this information on a single page, it is hoped that cross-referencing the use of the reflexive pronouns is easier to follow. In the book Hugo in Three Months: Spanish this information was split across two sequential pages.

Me lavo I wash myself
Tengo que lavarme I have to wash myself
Estoy lav?ndome I am washing myself
L?vese usted Wash yourself
No se lave usted Don’t wash yourself

Some verbs change their meaning when used reflexively.

llamar to call
llamarse to call oneself, to be called
ir to go
irse to go away
dormir to sleep
dormirse to go to sleep
llevar to carry, to wear
llevarse to take away

With some verbs the reflexive pronoun may be used to give emphasis or finality to he action of the verb.

Reflexive VerbEnglish Meaning
decidir, decidirse ato decide
morir, morirse (ue)to die
parar, pararseto stop

Reciprocal Form

The reflexive pronoun is also used in reciprocal verbs such as:

Reciprocal UseEnglish Meaning
quererse (ie)to love each other
comprenderseto understand each other
verseto see each other

Mi hermano y yo no nos comprendemos
My brother and I don’t understand each other

Sense can be made of reflexive verbs with reference to the reflexive pronouns table at the start of this post.

However, a good understanding of when to use these expressions can only be ascertained by working diligently through the supplied exercise entries.

With that object in mind, I have provided the full exercise list from this section of Hugo in Three Months: Spanish

While learning languages can be a lot of fun, it can also be immensely frustrating. So, any method of smoothing the language road is a boon to the intellectually challenged.

The English expression is followed by the Spanish translation and a further literal translation back to English to illustrate the grammatical construction.

Exercise 25
  1. Pedro and Anita write to each other every day
    Pedro y Anita se escriben todos los dias
    Pedro and Anita themselves they write every day
  2. The car is going to stop
    el coche va a pararse
    The car is going to stop itself
  3. We are going to get married
    vamos a casarnos
    We are going to get married ourselves
  4. The children go to bed at eight o’clock
    los ni?os se acuestan a las ocho
    The children themselves they go to bed at eight o’clock
  5. We have to wash ourselves
    tenemos que lavarnos
    We have to wash ourselves
  6. The two men hate each other
    los dos hombres se odian
    The two men themselves they hate
  7. He always asks me for money
    siempre me pide dinero
    Always, me he asks for money
  8. They never help each other
    nunca se ayudan
    Never themselves they help
  9. Carlos returns from the office at half past six
    carlos vuelve de la oficina a las seis y media
    Carlos he returns from the office at six and a half
  10. I must go to sleep
    tengo que dormirme
    I have to sleep myself
  11. Take away these cups
    ll?vese usted estas tazas
    Take away yourself these cups
  12. The street is called Baeza
    la calle se llama Baeza
    The street itself is called Baeza
  13. I am going to sit here
    voy a sentarme aqu?
    I am going to sit myself here
  14. We are going away tomorrow
    nos vamos ma?ana
    Ourselves we are going tomorrow
  15. I have decided to live in Spain
    me he decidido a vivir en espa?a
    Myself I have decided to live in Spain

In Summary

This concludes this particular lesson. I could continue to publish my language learning adventures, I have many more lesons to become acqainted with. But, for the moment, I don’t think that this blog is the place for my learning languages exploits. I am trying to streamline my blogging activioties and I should start by staying on topic.

Footnote: I use Yoast SEO to help analyse this post for keyword placement and readability. Now, given that over half of the text is in the Spanish language, my readability score was never going to be very high.

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