What Are the 5 Reflexive Pronouns in Spanish and How Are They Used?

Reflexive pronouns in Spanish are small, multipurpose phrases that work at the side of topic pronouns and verbs. They typically point out an motion {that a} topic is acting on itself—however not all the time! Generally they’re used as a part of naturally reflexive verbs, and different occasions they’re used to speak about mutual actions. 

Should you’re unclear about reflexive pronouns and their Spanish grammar guidelines, we’re right here that can assist you break down this advanced subject into easy-to-understand ideas. When you get accustomed to the essential concepts, it’s not troublesome to grasp the reflexive pronouns and study Spanish.

What’s a reflexive pronoun in Spanish?

One of many dictionary definitions of the phrase “reflexive” in English refers back to the relationship of one thing to itself. A straightforward technique to bear in mind that is by fascinated by what occurs whenever you look right into a lake on a sunny day: You see a mirrored image of your self. So, when you consider “reflexive,” assume “reflection.”

Reflexive pronouns in Spanish work equally to the lake picture by referring to the individual (or factor) doing the motion, however they don’t all the time straight replicate again with reference to the sentence. 

The right way to use Spanish reflexive pronouns with topic pronouns

Reflexive pronouns are generally used at the side of topic pronouns in Spanish. The topic pronouns in Spanish are yo, , él / ella / usted, nosotros, vosotros, and ellos / ustedes. As in English, use topic pronouns to consult with topics with out really utilizing a reputation. For instance, ella means “she.” You may use ella as a substitute of María to keep away from repeating María’s title quite a few occasions in a row.

You may also use topic pronouns to orient your self when studying reflexive pronouns as a result of they work collectively. That stated, it’s vital to keep in mind that topic pronouns are elective in Spanish. 

That will help you perceive the reflexive pronouns, you possibly can usually add “myself,” “your self,” “himself,” “herself,” “itself,” “ourselves,” and “yourselves” to the verb used with the reflexive pronoun to translate to English. Right here’s an instance sentence:

  • Yo me levanto. = I get (myself) up. 

Yo (I) is the topic pronoun, and me is the reflexive pronoun. Whereas the proper translation is “I rise up,” conceptually the phrase has the sense of “I get (myself) up” or “I elevate my physique up myself.” The topic pronoun yo is elective: It’s equally acceptable to say me levanto, and certainly extra widespread. However for studying functions, it’s greatest to make use of the topic pronouns.

Reflexive pronouns and their corresponding topic pronouns chart

Check out all 5 reflexive pronouns in Spanish with their corresponding topic pronouns in all their makes use of.

Topic pronoun Reflexive pronounInstance sentenceEnglish
yo meYo me levanto.I get (myself) up.
 (singular, casual)teTú te levantas.You get (your self) up.
él / ella / usted seElla se levanta.She will get (herself) up.
nosotros / asnosNosotros nos levantamos.We get (ourselves) up.
vosotros / as(plural, casual)osVosotros os levantáis.*You get (yourselves) up.
ustedes / ellos(plural, formal)se Ustedes se levantan.You get (yourselves) up.

*Notice that the vosotros kind is simply utilized in sure Spanish-speaking areas.

When to make use of reflexive pronouns in Spanish

As you possibly can see, reflexive pronouns in Spanish are utilized in some ways to speak about actions performed by a topic to itself. They’re usually used when speaking about each day routines or self-care. A great way to recollect that is that just about the whole lot most individuals do within the morning to get themselves prepared for work or faculty, from getting as much as getting dressed, wants a reflexive pronoun in Spanish. 

Use reflexive pronouns to speak a few topic performing upon itself

Reflexive pronouns make it easier to discuss conditions the place the topic is performing upon itself or propelling its personal physique.

  • Yo me baño. = I bathe (take a shower or bathe).
  • Yo me visto. = I dress.

Use reflexive pronouns to speak about an implied self-action

Nevertheless, there are extra subtleties to the difficulty. Take this instance:

  • Yo me peino. = I comb my hair.

Right here, there’s one thing implied: hair. It’s not fairly that the topic is combing him or herself; it’s that the topic is combing his or her hair (one a part of the physique). That is considerably completely different from the concept of getting up or sitting down (when the entire physique is acted upon or propelled).

Use reflexive pronouns with objects

Likewise, we generally use a reflexive pronoun with a grammatical object. Right here, the topic is brushing his or her personal tooth. There’s no implied physique half receiving the motion. Somewhat, it’s spelled out.

  • Yo me lavo los dientes. = I brush my tooth.

Notice, too, that in Spanish, you don’t say Yo me lavo mis dientes with the possessive. As a substitute, use the extra impersonal definitive pronoun los (the) as a result of the me already makes it clear to whom the tooth belong.

Equally, when the topic is plural and every individual owns one thing that’s singular, equivalent to hair, the item being acted upon is singular.

  • Nosotros nos lavamos la cara. = We wash our faces. 

The implication right here is that every individual washes his or her personal face.

The right way to use reflexive pronouns to kind reflexive verbs

Reflexive pronouns are additionally used with conjugated widespread Spanish verbs. Though it’s potential to create your personal reflexive assertion from many verbs, sure verbs are thought-about reflexive by nature—and never all of them are topics performing actions on themselves. Generally they’ve the sense of changing into. 

These verbs should all the time take the reflexive pronoun, and their that means is completely different from the identical verb with out the reflexive pronoun. 

VerbNon-reflexive instanceReflexive instance
irFui a la biblioteca.(I went to the library.)Me fui a la biblioteca.(I left for the library.)
llevarLlevo a Gabriela a la clínica.(I take Gabriela to the clinic.)Me llevo bien con Gabriela.(I get alongside effectively with Gabriela.)
ponerPongo la taza en la mesa.(I put the cup on the desk.)Me pongo los zápatos.(I placed on my sneakers.)

It’s vital to recollect the infinitive is the “to” type of the verb, that means the complete unconjugated kind, equivalent to ser (“to be”). 

Seeing a verb infinitive listed with se on the finish usually clues you into the truth that it’s a reflexive verb. However you’ll nonetheless use the reflexive pronouns listed above to conjugate the verbs. Let’s take a standard instance: the verb llamarse. Technically, it means to name oneself, however you should use it to speak about your title. Thus, Yo me llamo Paulo means “I’m Paulo.”

The place to position reflexive pronouns in a sentence

As you’ve seen, a reflexive pronoun in Spanish usually goes earlier than a conjugated verb but tacks onto the top of an infinitive. However there are extra ways in which reflexive pronouns will be positioned. 

Utilizing reflexive pronouns with infinitive verbs after a conjugated verb

Simply as you do in English, verbs that come after a conjugated verb are left within the infinitive.

  • Quiero comer sushi. = I would like to eat sushi.

In relation to reflexive verbs used after a conjugated verb, the identical factor applies.

  • Quiero bañarme. = I would like to wash.

Utilizing reflexive pronouns with the current participle

Reflexive pronouns can be utilized on the finish of a gift particle. The current participle is the “-ing” type of the verb. In Spanish, it’s expressed as -ando, like this:

  • Me estoy bañando. = I’m bathing.

With this type, it’s potential to position the reflexive pronoun on the finish of the current participle, too.

  • Estoy bañándome. = I’m bathing.

In that case, the current participle additionally takes an accent as a result of one other syllable—the reflexive pronoun—has been added to the top of the current participle.

Utilizing reflexive pronouns to emphasise an motion

Generally you need to emphasize an motion, particularly when speaking about ending one thing by your self. There’s a way of completion and generally even achievement on this case. You need to use reflexive pronouns in Spanish for this goal, too.

  • La ensalada se ve deliciosa. Me la como. = The salad appears scrumptious. I’m going to eat all of it up.
  • ¿Las tablas de multiplicación? Me las sé de memoria. = The multiplication tables? I’ve them memorized.

Utilizing reflexive pronouns for reciprocal actions

Por último (lastly), reflexive pronouns are used for reciprocal actions. This has the identical sense because the reflexive pronouns used for a topic that performs an motion on itself besides, on this case, there are two or extra topics performing the motion on one another. 

  • Las gatas se abrazan. = The (feminine) cats hug (one another).
  • Las gatas se lamen. = The (feminine) cats lick (one another).

Within the second instance, there’s a little bit of ambiguity. The cats could possibly be licking one another, however they is also every individually licking themselves to scrub their very own fur. On this case, you may want additional clarification from context to grasp precisely what is occurring.

Key takeaways about reflexive pronouns in Spanish

  • Reflexive pronouns are used when a topic aids itself in performing an motion.
  • They should be used with reflexive verbs that often have a that means completely different from the verb with out the pronoun.
  • Reflexive pronouns are positioned earlier than a conjugated verb or tacked onto the top of an infinitive or current participle.
  • Reflexive pronouns can be utilized to emphasise an motion, particularly a accomplished one.
  • These pronouns are used to speak about reciprocal actions being enacted by two or extra topics on one another.

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