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Sentarse Reflexive Conjugation: Preterite & Command

Instructor: Elena Sacramento

Elena teaches Spanish as a foreign language and has a PhD in linguistics.

It is useful to know the Spanish verb ''sentarse'' (to sit down), especially to invite others to take a seat. Learn how to use it properly in the preterite to describe past actions, to use the imperative, and to give commands or make suggestions.

Using the Verb Sentarse

In Spanish-speaking settings, whenever you have guests at home or you are required to take a seat while you are waiting for an appointment, you will need to understand and adequately use the verb sentarse (pronounced: sehn-TAHR-seh), meaning 'to sit down'.

In this lesson we'll study its conjugation in the preterite, which will allow you to describe where you or others sat down. We'll also examine the imperative, used to give commands or make suggestions.

Sentarse (to sit down)
sit

Where Do We Sit?

The verb sentarse can be used in several structures:

  • On its own, meaning 'to sit' or 'to sit down'.
  • Followed by the place where we sit. In this case, we normally use the preposition en (on), but it is also possible to use sobre (on, on top of).
    • Sentarse en una silla / en un banco ('to sit on a chair / on a bench').
    • Sentarse sobre la cama / sobre la toalla ('to sit on the bed / on the towel').
  • In the expression sentarse a la mesa, which means 'to sit down at the table', normally to eat. Notice that the preposition is different (a). If you wanted to say that someone sat literally ON the table, then you would use en or sobre.

Preterite of Sentarse

We use the preterite to talk about finished actions in the past. Sentarse is a regular verb, so just take its stem (sent-) and add the preterite endings as seen below.

Notice that sentarse is a reflexive verb, so we have to add the pronouns (me/te/se/nos/os/se) IN FRONT OF its conjugated forms:

VERB: sentarse (sehn-TAHR-seh) - to sit down

Subject Pronouns Sentarse Conjugation:
Preterite
Pronunciation Translation
yo me senté (meh sehn-TEH) I sat down
te sentaste (teh sehn-TAHS-teh) you sat down
él/ella/usted se sentó (seh sehn-TOH) he/she/you (formal)
sat down
nosotros/nosotras nos sentamos (nohs sehn-TAH-mohs) we sat down
vosotros/vosotras os sentasteis (ohs sehn-TAHS-tays) you all sat down
ellos/ellas/ustedes se sentaron (seh sehn-TAH-rohn) they/you all (formal)
sat down

Examples

Use the preterite forms to say where or when people sat down (or didn't sit). For example, Lara was extremely busy yesterday and didn't even have time to sit at the table and eat. She says:

  • Ayer estuve tan ocupada que no me senté en todo el día. ('Yesterday I was so busy that I didn't sit down at all during the day.')

Other people are luckier and have more time to relax, like Ana, who lives by the beach and goes there often:

  • Esta mañana se sentó en la arena a leer. ('This morning she sat on the sand to read.')

Translation: She sat on the sand.
reading

Last weekend, Ana was at a great Japanese restaurant with her friends. She says:

  • Fuimos a un restaurante japonés y nos sentamos en el suelo para comer. ('We went to a Japanese restaurant and sat on the floor to eat.')

Her children were playing all day long and by dinner time they were exhausted. Ana says:

  • Los niños se sentaron un rato a descansar. ('The children sat down for a while to rest.')

Imperative of Sentarse

We use the imperative to give orders or commands, but also to make suggestions.

In this case, we use the irregular stem (sient-), except for nosotros/as and vosotros/as, which keep the regular stem (sent-).

NOTE: When a verb is reflexive, its imperative forms have the pronouns ATTACHED at the end, forming a single word, and not in front, as in the rest of the tenses.

Take a look at the imperative forms of sentarse:

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