The Easiest Way to Learn Spanish Reflexive Verbs

by learn a language journalist

Spanish reflexive verbs are verbs that we use when talking about actions that we do to or for ourselves. Many of them are used in our daily routine, like getting dressed or taking a shower.  They are also used when talking about emotions, like getting upset or bored.

What Do Spanish Reflexive Verbs Look Like?

All reflexive verbs end in –se, like “lavarse”. To conjugate reflexive verbs, first we conjugate the –se into a pronoun to fit who we are talking about. This pronoun goes before the verb. Then we just conjugate the verb like normal. Here is a list of the pronouns:


Yo me (myself) Nosotros nos (ourselves)

te (yourself) Vosotros os (yourselves)

Él/Ella se (himself/herself) Ellos/Ellas/Ustedes se (themselves/yourselves)

Once you have the pronouns down, you just need to add the verb. Let’s look at a few common Spanish reflexive verbs that are sure to come up in everyday conversation.  

Common Reflexive Verbs

Bañarse – to bathe oneself  Lavarse – to wash oneself  

Levantarse – to get oneself up Acordarse – to remember

Quedarse – to stay Enojarse – to get angry

Volverse – to return Sentirse – to feel

Aburrirse – to get bored Sentarse – to sit oneself down

Despertarse – to wake oneself up Vestirse – to get oneself dressed

Irse – to leave Quejarse – to complain  


Now that you have the basic formula, let’s look at a few example sentences. Remember, the formula is:

Subject + pronoun + conjugated verb

Me baño. – I bathe (myself).

¿Te acuerdas? – Do you remember?

Ella se enojó mucho conmigo. – She got really mad at me.

No nos quejamos nunca. – We never complain.  

Vosotros os levantáis temprano. – You guys get up early.  

Ellos se quedan en la casa. – They stay at home.  

The pronoun always goes directly before the verb, whether it is a negative sentence or a question.

Difference Between Reflexive and Non-reflexive Verbs

I’m sure you noticed a lot of the verbs from the list and recognized them without the -se ending. Yes, many of these verbs don’t always have to be reflexive. But what is the difference? Let’s look at the verbs “ver” and “verse”.

“Veo la pared” means “I look at the wall”, while “me veo” means “I look at myself”. The same goes for “lavar” and “lavarse”. “Él lava el carro” means “he washes the car”, while “él se lava las manos” means “he washes his hands (himself)”. In both of the Spanish reflexive verb examples, the subject is performing an action on him or herself.  

A Few Things to Keep in Mind

Remember that if you are using a reflexive verb in a command, you must always include the pronoun. In positive commands, the pronoun goes after the verb and in negative commands it comes before.  

¡Lávate las manos!

¡No te laves las manos!

¡Quítense los zapatos!

¡No se quiten los zapatos!

It is also important to note that depending on country the usage and frequency of reflexive verbs can be different. In Mexico, for example, it is very common to use reflexive verbs on words that normally wouldn’t be reflexive. Take the verb “comer” for example. You can easily say the sentence “comí unos tacos” and be understood. But likewise you could say “me comí unos tacos.”

Usually adding a reflexive verb where it is not required adds emphasis. Like, “I ate up the tacos,” instead of “I ate the tacos,” but in some countries this conjugation is very common and widely used.


Now for some fun. Let’s have a look at those Spanish reflexive verbs in action with this song by Mexican pop singer Gloria Trevi. The song, “Me Siento Tan Sola,” is about a girl who finds herself unexpectedly pregnant and alone. Think Madonna’s “Papa Don’t Preach” but in Spanish.

Tuve miedo de estar

tan solos los dos.

Me puse a temblar

cuando él se acercó a mí.

Pude sentir que no tendría voluntad,

apenas y dije no

y él me empezó a desnudar.

Y me puse a llorar

poco después del final.

Sus ojos, su adiós

me dieron la verdad.

Pude saber que él no sería para mí

y yo si para él,

aunque nunca lo vuelva a ver,

aunque nunca lo vuelva a ver.

Poco tiempo después

tuve un nuevo temor,

mi cuerpo cambió

con una revolución.

Me cansé de esperar

lo que llega cada mes,

fue cuando comprendí

que algo crece adentro de mí.

Y quisiera llorar

y quisiera gritar

que me siento tan solaaaaaaaaa

que casi juro que mi ángel me abandonó,

que el sol me huye para no ver mi dolor

y mi mayor consuelo

me da tanto miedo,

se mueve y crece dentro de mi cuerpo…

Y la casa tembló cuando papá se enteró 

lo debes perder fue lo que él ordenó

pues la gran sociedad

no se debe enterar.

No me dolieron los golpes

tanto como mi soledad.

Ella también lo apoyo

en lo que él decidió

y me hicieron saber mil veces que les fallé.

Me cansé de escuchar

del honor que perdí,

lo que perdí fue un amor

más que más da si me siento mal,

qué más da si me siento mal…

If you want more practice there are two great songs by Colombian singer-songwriter Shakira that come to mind. Check out her classic song “Si Te Vas” and her newer hit “Me enamoré” for more Spanish reflexive verbs.


Nicole DeFuria is a language fanatic from Seattle, Washington. She is fluent in Spanish, having studied it for over ten years and lived abroad. She is also currently studying Italian and Nahuatl.

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