How to master reflexive verbs in Spanish
If you are reading this it’s because you have probably been struggling trying to learn and understand how reflexive verbs work in Spanish. If so, I hope I can make this simpler for you. So, let’s start from the beginning. What is a reflexive verb?
In grammar, a reflexive verb is a verb whose direct object is the same as the subject. For example, when you take a shower, you are performing this action for yourself, same as when you brush your teeth or get ready for school or work.
So, let’s say that you are the producer and the recipient of these actions:
“Me ducho, me cepillo los dientes, me arreglo para el trabajo.”
These reflexive verbs indicate that the action is performed by the subject to or for the same subject. Also we need the reflexive pronouns "me, te, se, nos, os, se" when using these verbs:
"Tú te duchas, él se cepilla los dientes, nosotros nos arreglamos para el trabajo."
These pronouns are always located before the conjugated verb. But you probably already know this and the real struggle starts when you are reading a passage in Spanish or talking with a Spanish speaker and you come across with reflexive verbs that you had no idea they were reflexive and you can't understand why. well, here is the hack! A good way to learn and understand the most common Spanish reflexive verbs is by organizing them into groups. For example:
- Reflexive verbs that indicate actions performed by the subject to or for the subject itself such as: Ducharse,secarse, peinarse, maquillarse, vestirse, etc.
- Reflexive verbs that indicate a change in social status such as: graduarse, casarse, divorciarse,jubilarse, etc.
- Reflexive verbs that indicate a change in physical condition or body posture such as: Levantarse, acostarse, sentarse, moverse, etc.
- Reflexive verbs that indicate unexpected actions such as: caerse or romperse.
- Reflexive verbs that indicate a change in mental perception such as: acordarse, olvidarse, confundirse, darse cuenta, etc.
- Reflexive verbs that indicate an emotional reaction such as: aburrirse, divertirse, alegrarse, enojarse, etc.
- Verbs that change their meaning with the reflexive pronoun such as: despedir vs despedirse, dirigir vs dirigirse, etc.
- Verbs that are always reflexive such as: equivocarse or quejarse.
I hope you find this article helpful and If you have questions or would like to practice, please don't hesitate to book a lesson with me! I have great materials to share with you and help you master this topic and others!