Reflexive Verbs

You have already learned that verbs in Spanish only have one of three possible endings; -ar, -er, or -ir. However, there is one exception to this rule. Reflexive verbs still have one of the three normal endings, but they also have the pronoun se added to the end. The se is usually there to show that the doer of the action is doing something to itself.

bañar (to bathe) → Yo baño al perro. I wash the dog.
bañarse (to bathe oneself) → Yo me baño. I bathe myself.

When conjugating the reflexive verb, the pronoun se changes to match who you are conjugating the verb for. Remember to place the pronoun in the right place.It always goes before the conjugated verb (except for infinitives, positive commands, and progressive participles).








Él, Ella, Usted


Ellos, Ellas, Ustedes


To conjugate the verb bañarse in the present indicative tense, see the chart below. Notice how the pronoun changes with each conjugation.

Yo me baño Nosotros nos bañamos
te bañas Vosotros os bañáis
Él, Ella, Usted se baña Ellos, Ellas, Ustedes se bañan

Sometimes the difference between a verb and a its reflexive form are pretty obvious:

aburrir – to bore aburrirse – to get bored
acostar – to put to bed acostarse – to go to bed
bañar – to bathe (someone) bañarse – to take a bath
cansar – to tire cansarse – to get tired
colocar – to place (something) colocarse – to place oneself, to get a job
engañar – to deceive   engañarse – to deceive oneself, to be mistaken
esconder – to hide (something) esconderse – to hide (oneself)
parar – to stop (something) pararse – to stop (oneself)
sentar – to seat sentarse – to sit down


Sometimes the difference is not so obvious:

abonar – to pay money abonarse – to subscribe
abrir – to open   abrirse – to open up (emotionally)
acordar – to agree acordarse – to remember
acusar – to accuse acusarse – to confess
callar – to be be quiet callarse – to become quiet
cerrar – to close cerrarse – to clam up (emotionally)
combinar – to combine combinarse – to take turns
dormir – to sleep dormirse – to fall asleep
ir – to go irse – to go away
salir – to leave salirse – to leave unexpectedly
poner – to place, to put ponerse – to become


And sometimes there are verbs that are only used reflexively in Spanish, but would not be reflexive in English.

apoderarse (de) – to take possession of
apresurarse (a) – to hurry
aprovecharse (de) – to take advantage of
arrepentirse (de) – to repent
atreverse (a) – to dare (to)
burlarse (de) – to make fun of
desayunarse – to have breakfast
desmayarse – to faint
escaparse (de) – to escape (from)
fiarse (de) – to trust
fijarse (en) – to stare (at)
negarse (a) – to refuse (to)
olvidarse (de) – to forget
parecerse (a) – to resemble
quejarse (de) – to complain
empeñarse (en) – to insist (on)
enterarse (de) – to find out about
reírse (de) – to laugh (at)


Practice 1

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