Spanish Reflexive Verbs: Uses & Conjugation

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  • 0:02 What Are Reflexive Verbs?
  • 1:29 Conjugating Reflexive Verbs
  • 5:32 Practice
  • 7:09 Review
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Ashley Garcias-Casas
A lot goes into your daily routine: You wake up, take a shower, comb your hair, get dressed, etc. In Spanish, we use reflexive verbs to express many of these actions. In this lesson, we will look at reflexive verbs and their conjugations.

What Are Reflexive Verbs

Have you ever stopped to think about your daily routine? You actually do a lot of things from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed at night. In Spanish, we express a lot of these actions with reflexive verbs. In English, reflexive verbs are roughly the equivalent of 'self' and 'selves.' For example, he dresses himself, we wake ourselves up, etc.

Let's first have a look at some of the reflexive verbs in Spanish. You'll see that each of the infinitive forms has a 'se' at the end, letting us know that it is a reflexive verb.

despertarse - to wake up

levantarse - to get up

lavarse - to wash (some part of your body)

cepillarse - to brush

peinarse - to comb

bañarse - to take a bath

ducharse - to take shower

maquillarse - to put on makeup

afeitarse - to shave

arreglarse - to get ready

vestirse - to get dressed

ponerse - to put on

quitarse - to take off

acostarse - to go to bed

Here are a few more reflexive verbs that aren't related to your daily routine:

llamarse - to be called

enojarse - to get angry

enfermarse - to get sick

casarse - to get married

Of course, there are many more reflexive verbs, but these are the most common and will be the focus for this lesson.

How to Conjugate Reflexive Verbs

So now we can recognize a reflexive verb, but how do we conjugate it? Easy! Just think of it as a regular -ar, -er, and -ir verb with an additional component. Let's first group them into -ar, -er, and -ir verbs.

lavarse ponerse* vestirse*

You'll notice that we have more -ar verbs than any other, so we'll start with those.

Let's look at llamarse since you will probably already recognize its conjugations. Reflexive verbs have two parts that need to be conjugated, the infinitive (llamar) and the reflexive pronoun 'se.' In this form, llamarse means 'to call oneself.'

We conjugate llamar as we would any other -ar verb.

yo llamo nosotros llamamos
llamas vosotros llamáis
él, ella, Ud. llama ellos, ellas, Uds. llaman

We would be finished if we were conjugating the verb llamar - to call. But we are conjugating llamarSE - to call oneself. We also need to include the reflexive pronouns. These are:

me nos
te os
se se

These pronouns come before the conjugated base form.

yo me llamo nosotros nos llamamos
te llamas vosotros os llamáis
él, ella, Ud. se llama ellos, ellas, Uds. se llaman

So when you are introducing yourself, you are literally saying, 'I call myself…' then, you call yourself, he calls himself, we call ourselves, they call themselves, etc.

Let's look at another - maquillarse. Again, we have the infinitive maquillar and the reflexive pronoun 'se.'

yo me maquillo nosotros nos maquillamos
te maquillas vosotros os maquilláis
él, ella, Ud. se maquilla ellos, ellas, Uds. se maquillan

Bien! You would follow this same pattern for all of the other regular -ar verbs.

Did you happen to notice the asterisk next to despertarse and acostarse? That's because these are stem-changing reflexive verbs. Remember the stem change only applies to the verbs inside the boot.

Desp(e)rtarse has a an 'e' to 'ie' stem change. The rest of the conjugations are made as usual.

yo me desp(ie)rto nosotros nos despertamos
te desp(ie)rtas vosotros os despertáis
él, ella, Ud. se desp(ie)rta ellos, ellas, Uds. se desp(ie)rtan

Ac(o)starse has an 'o' to 'ue' stem change.

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