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Reflexive Verbs A verb is reflexive if the subject and the object of a sentence are the same. Introduction In other words, if the subject of a sentence also receives the action of the verb, it will be reflexive. Consider these two sentences: Andrew lava el coche. Andrew se lava. Andrew washes the car. Andrew washes himself. Since Andrew is the person doing and receiving the action of the verb in the second sentence, the verb is reflexive. In the first example, the verb lavar is used. In the second sentence the reflexive verb lavarse is used. Reflexive Pronouns Reflexive verbs are always accompanied by a reflexive pronoun. To form a reflexive infinitive verb, you simply place the reflexive pronoun se at the end of the infinitive, like this: llamar llamarse to call (not reflexive) to call oneself (reflexive) When the verb is conjugated, however, the pronoun will change to match the subject of the sentence. The reflexive pronouns in Spanish are: Reflexive Pronouns me myself nos ourselves; each other te os yourself se him/her/yourself [formal] se yourselves [informal, Spain]; each other themselves; each other; yourselves [formal] Conjugating Reflexive Verbs When a reflexive verb is conjugated, the matching reflexive pronoun goes in front of the conjugated verb. Here are the present tense conjugations of the verb llamarse: © 2011 Middlebury Interactive Languages. All rights reserved. This material is intended for the exclusive use of registered users only. No portion of these materials may be reproduced or redistributed in any form without the express permission of Middlebury Interactive Languages. Llamarse me llamo I call myself nos llamamos we call ourselves/ we call each other te llamas you call yourself os llamáis you guys call yourselves/ you guys call each other se llama he calls himself/ she calls herself/ se llaman you (formal) call yourself they call themselves/ they call each other/ you guys (formal) call yourselves/ each other Body Parts In the case of body parts, reflexive verbs can be tricky. Consider the following sentence and its Spanish translation: Daniel washes his hands. Daniel se lava las manos. Even though the Spanish sentence literally means “Daniel washes himself the hands,” it is correct. It is understood in Spanish that “the hands” are his, since the verb is reflexive. (Remember that this is NOT the case when talking about an object that belongs to the subject, such as a car.) Word Order As is the case with object pronouns, reflexive pronouns generally come before the verb. However, just like object pronouns, reflexive pronouns can be directly attached to the end of an infinitive verb and a gerund. For example, the following sentence is acceptable: Daniel necesita lavarse las manos. Daniel está lavándose las manos. Daniel needs to wash his hands. Daniel is washing his hands. Change in Meaning Some verbs change slightly in meaning in their reflexive forms. Here are some examples: hacer to do, to make volver to return ir to go hacerse to become (literally to make oneself) volverse to become (literally to [re]turn oneself) irse to go away (literally to go oneself) © 2011 Middlebury Interactive Languages. All rights reserved. This material is intended for the exclusive use of registered users only. No portion of these materials may be reproduced or redistributed in any form without the express permission of Middlebury Interactive Languages. Emphasis Sometimes verbs can be reflexive just to emphasize the action or the person performing it: Puedes comer el helado. You can eat the ice cream. ¡Cómetelo! Eat it (up)! Here is a list of common reflexive verbs that you will see in Spanish. acostarse (o-ue) to go to bed lastimarse to hurt oneself afeitarse to shave lavarse to wash arreglarse to get ready llamarse to call oneself bañarse to take a bath, to bathe levantarse to get up cansarse (de) to get tired (of) peinarse to comb one's hair casarse (con) to get married (to) ponerse to get dressed cortarse to cut onself, to get cut (hair) quedarse to stay despedirse (e-i) to say goodbye to *quejarse to complain about despertarse (e-ie) to wake up quitarse to take off (clothing) *divertirse (e-ie) to have fun, to enjoy oneself secarse to dry ducharse to take a shower sentarse (e-ie) to sit down enfermarse to get sick sentirse (e-ie) to feel Note: Keep in mind that the majority of these verbs are not always reflexive. It depends on who is performing the action, who is receiving the action, as well as the actual meaning of the verb. If the subject of the sentence receives the action then it will be used reflexively. An asterisk has been placed next to the verbs that are always reflexive. © 2011 Middlebury Interactive Languages. All rights reserved. This material is intended for the exclusive use of registered users only. No portion of these materials may be reproduced or redistributed in any form without the express permission of Middlebury Interactive Languages.