Spanish Grammar Explained /

Reflexive verbs

Reflexive verbs in Spanish (verbos reflexivos) are verbs that go together with reflexive pronouns- always. You can't have one without the other. A reflexive pronoun is used as part of a reflexive verb to indicate that someone is performing an action on himself or herself (mostly).
Here are some examples of reflexive verbs:
to wake up
to take a shower
to comb one's hair
lavarse las manos
to wash one's hands
If you conjugate reflexive verbs, note that:
  • the subject and object of the verb (both the blue and the black parts) refer to the same entity
  • reflexive pronouns are placed before the verb
Me ducho.
Te duchas.
Se ducha.
Nos duchamos.
ustedes vosotros
→ →
Se duchan. (Latin.) Os ducháis. (Spain)
Se duchan.
Avoid this very common mistake:
Me lavo mis manos. → Me lavo las manos.
Since the reflexive pronoun me expresses that the person performing the action is the same as the recipient or target object of the action, saying mis manos (my hands) is redundant.
Many actions related to personal care or daily routines are reflexive, because... duh... you do them to yourself. However. Other important verbs can be reflexive as well:
  • acordarse → to remember
  • olvidarse → to forget
  • divertirse → to have fun/to enjoy oneself
No me acuerdo.
I don't remember.
Siempre me olvido de llamar.
I always forget to call.
Me divierto en el trabajo.
I have fun at work.
And for grammar geeks: You can also add reflexive pronouns to verbs that are not regularly reflexive in order to make them reflexive.
Me compro un vestido.
I buy a dress for myself.
Me veo en el espejo.
I look at myself in the mirror.
And in case you haven't noticed, one of the very first verbs we learned is reflexive.
¿Cómo se llama ese verbo?