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Spanish Reflexive Verbs for Your Daily Routine

What are reflexive verbs in Spanish? A reflexive verb is a verb in which the subject (person or thing that completes the action) and object (person or thing that receives the action) are one in the same. In other words, the action "reflects back" onto the subject, or entails something one does to or for him or herself. It is no wonder then, that many of the things we "do to ourselves" in our daily routines (e.g. shaving ourselves, washing ourselves, etc.) fall into the category of reflexive Spanish verbs. 

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Recognizing Spanish Reflexive Verbs 

 

How can we recognize Spanish reflexive verbs? The main way to distinguish reflexive verbs in Spanish is by the fact that they all end in the pronoun se in their infinitive form. To take a very simple example, while the verb hablar means "to talk," hablarse is a reflexive verb meaning "to talk to oneself." However, the translations for reflexive verbs in Spanish aren't always so straight-forward. 

 

As we often say just "I shave" or "I wash" in lieu of "I shave/wash myself," the English translations of Spanish reflexive verbs won't always include pronouns like "myself," "yourself," etc. In other cases, the meanings of verbs like parecer (to seem) completely change in their reflexive forms (parecerse means "to look like"). And so, as there are a lot more reflexive verbs in Spanish than in English, many of which may not "seem" reflexive, with increased exposure to Spanish, we will learn which English concepts are expressed with Spanish reflexive verbs.

 

Conjugating Spanish Reflexive Verbs: Reflexive Pronouns

 

To conjugate reflexive verbs in Spanish, we must memorize the reflexive pronouns that correspond to each personal pronoun: yo (I), tú (you), etc.). Reflexive pronouns are most often placed before the verb, which is conjugated "as usual" (in the same way as its non-reflexive form). To demonstrate this, let's take a look at the reflexive pronouns and the simple present conjugation of the regular verb hablar. We will then show you the conjugation of its reflexive form (hablarse).

 

Personal Pronoun Reflexive Pronoun Hablar Hablarse
yo me hablo me hablo
te hablas te hablas
él, ella, usted se habla se habla
nosotros/as nos hablamos nos hablamos
vosotros/as os habláis os habláis
ellos/as, ustedes se hablar se hablan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Reflexive Verbs in Spanish for Your Daily Routine

 

Now that you know the Spanish reflexive pronouns and how to conjugate reflexive Spanish verbs, let's take a look at some examples of reflexive verbs in Spanish for describing things that many of us do on a daily basis, with lots of instances from our Yabla video library as always! Here is our list of Spanish reflexive verbs for your daily routine: 

 

1. Despertarse

 

The Spanish reflexive verb despertarse means "to wake up":

 

y por la mañana me despierto entre seis y cuarenta y cinco a siete y cuarto. 

and in the morning I wake up between six forty-five and seven fifteen.

Caption 62, Los médicos explican Diagnóstico: nervios y estrés

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2. Levantarse

 

After waking up, the next step might be levantarse ("to get up" or "get out of bed"):

 

Se levanta muy temprano. 

She gets up very early.

Caption 51, El Aula Azul Las Profesiones - Part 1

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In other contexts, the reflexive Spanish verb levantarse could also mean, among other things, "to stand up" or "get up," as from a seat, or even "to rise up against," as in a rebellion. 

 

3. Bañarse

 

The Spanish noun baño means "bath," and the verb bañarse can mean "to take a bath" as well. However, as bañarse can also be the more general "to bathe," a person might even use this verb to express the fact that they are taking a shower! Let's look at an example of this reflexive Spanish verb: 

 

Uno se baña todos los días, mijita.

One bathes every day, my girl.

Caption 41, Muñeca Brava 33 El partido - Part 2

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On the other hand, if a person at the beach expresses their desire to bañarse, rather than wanting to wash the sand off of themselves, they are letting you know they would like to take a dip! The Spanish reflexive verb bañarse can also mean "to go swimming," a translation that often comes as a surprise to English speakers:

 

No hay muchas olas grandes como en Atacames. Es más tranquilo para bañarse.

There aren't many big waves like in Atacames. It's more peaceful to go swimming.

Captions 62-63, Pipo Un paseo por la playa de Atacames

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4. Ducharse

 

In the morning, at night, or after the beach, indeed, one might need to ducharse (to take a shower):

 

¿Qué está haciendo Silvia? Silvia se está duchando.

What is Silvia doing? Silvia is taking a shower.

Captions 11-12, El Aula Azul Actividades diarias: En casa con Silvia

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Note that, in this example, the verb ducharse is conjugated in the present progressive tense. As with the present indicative and all other tenses, verbs are conjugated in the exact same way as they would be were they non-reflexive, with the addition of the appropriate reflexive pronoun. 

 

5. Lavarse

 

The reflexive verb in Spanish lavarse generally means "to wash (oneself)." Let's look at an example: 

 

Por ejemplo, "Yo me lavo". La acción recae sobre la persona que realiza la acción. Pero, "Yo lavo los platos".

For example, "Yo me lavo" [I wash myself]. The action falls back upon the person who carries out the action. But, "Yo lavo los platos" [I wash the dishes].

Captions 45-48, Lecciones con Carolina Verbos reflexivos

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In this informative video about Spanish reflexive verbs, Yabla fan favorite Carolina explains the difference between reflexive and non-reflexive verbs, in this case the verbs lavar (to wash) and lavarse (to wash oneself). Let's look at an additional example: 

 

Yo me lavo las manos. Tú te lavas las manos.

I wash my hands. You wash your hands.

Captions 19-20, Fundamentos del Español 9 - Verbos Reflexivos

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Unlike in English, where we express the idea of washing one's hands or some other body part with a possessive pronoun (my, your, etc.), this is not the case in Spanish. Instead, we use the definite article for the noun in question, manos (hands), in this case, las (the). Because the reflexive pronoun already indicates that the action is something we do to ourselves, it would be redundant in Spanish to say: Yo me lavo mis manos. As the correct way to express this is "Yo me lavo las manos," it might help you to remember the literal but non-sensical translation: "I wash myself the hands."

 

That said, let's move on to something else that's expressed with the notion of "washing" in Spanish: lavarse los dientes (to brush one's teeth). 

 

6. Lavarse/cepillarse los dientes

 

Lavarse los dientes (literally "to wash one's teeth") is one of saying "to brush one's teeth" in Spanish: 

 

Después, ehm... suelo lavarme los dientes en el baño,

After that, um... I usually brush my teeth in the bathroom,

Caption 3, El Aula Azul Actividades Diarias

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Different countries, regions, or individuals might instead use cepillarse los dientes, which also means "to brush one's teeth." Let's check out an example in the preterite tense: 

 

Se cepilló los dientes,

He brushed his teeth,

Caption 20, Aprendiendo con Carlos El microrrelato - Part 2

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7. Cepillarse el pelo/cabello

 

By extension, the noun el cepillo means "the brush," and we might have a cepillo de dientes (toothbrush) as well as a cepillo de pelo/cabello (hair brush), as in the following caption:

 

Sí... -¿Qué necesitamos para ir allí? El cepillo de dientes. El cepillo del pelo.

Yes... -What do we need to go there? A toothbrush. A hair brush.

Captions 49-51, Un Viaje a Mallorca Planificando el viaje

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So, you've probably surmised by now that the verb cepillarse el pelo/cabello means "to brush one's hair."

 

8. Peinarse

 

The verb peinarse can mean "to comb one's hair" with a comb (un peine), "to brush one's hair," or "to do" or "style" one's hair in general:

 

Por eso paró en la playa para mirarse en el espejo y peinarse.

That's why she stopped on the beach to look at herself in the mirror and comb her hair.

Captions 21-22, Guillermina y Candelario Mi Amiga la Sirena

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9. Afeitarse

 

Afeitarse is the verb for "to shave" (oneself, of course)!

 

Vos sabés lo que es todas las mañanas... mirarse en el espejo cuando uno se afeita

Do you know what it's like every morning... to look at oneself in the mirror when one's shaving,

Captions 30-31, Muñeca Brava 8 Trampas - Part 13

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10. Maquillarse

 

The next step in one's morning routine might be maquillarse (to put on makeup):

 

Aquí, siempre me maquillo para mis conciertos.

Here, I always put on makeup for my concerts.

Caption 47, Ariana Mi Casa

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Alternatively, one might say Aquí, siempre me pinto para mis conciertos, as pintarse (literally "to paint oneself") also means "to put on makeup." 

 

11. Vestirse

 

Vestirse is the way to say "to get dressed" in Spanish. 

 

Yo salgo y... y te vistes.

I'll leave and... and you get dressed.

Caption 30, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 2 - Part 8

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Another way to say this might be ponerse la ropa (to put on one's clothes). 

 

12. Sacarse la ropa

 

Although sacarse la ropa is one manner of saying "to get undressed" or "take off one's clothes," there are many other examples of reflexive verbs in Spanish that mean the same thing, including: quitarse la ropa, desvestirse, and desnudarse. Let's look at a couple of examples: 

 

Si "Libertinaje" te saca... te invita a sacarte la ropa,

If "Libertinaje" takes off your..... invites you to take off your clothes,

Captions 4-5, Bersuit Vergarabat EPK - Part 1

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Y se desnuda poco a poco y se convierte en tu piel

And she gets naked little by little and she becomes your skin

Caption 6, Reik Inolvidable

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As you can see, the more literal "to get naked" might be an alternate translation for desnudarse. 

 

13. Acostarse 

 

We're finally getting to the end of our daily routine, when it's time for us to acostarnos (go to bed): 

 

Tranquilícese, vaya a acostarse y deje de pensar en imposibles.

Calm down, go to bed, and stop thinking about impossible things.

Caption 31, Muñeca Brava 48 - Soluciones - Part 5

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14. Dormirse

 

And finally, once in bed, it's time to fall asleep! While the non-reflexive dormir means "to sleep," dormirse means "to fall asleep." 

 

Me dormí pensando en ti; pensando en ti, me desperté

I fell asleep thinking about you; thinking about you, I woke up

Caption 10, 75 minutos Del campo a la mesa - Part 13

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More Reflexive Verbs in Spanish 

 

Of course, this is just a partial list of reflexive verbs in Spanish that might be applicable to our daily routines. There are a lot more common reflexive verbs in Spanish that describe things one might do on a daily basis, including secarse (to dry oneself off), sentarse (to sit down), sentirse (to feel), emocionarse (to get excited), encontrarse con alguien (to meet with someone), acordarse de (to remember), olvidarse (to forget), sonreírse (to smile), reírse (to laugh), despedirse (to say goodbye), irse (to leave), and many, many more! 

 

For additional information on Spanish reflexive verbs, check out this video from the series Fundamentos del Español. And don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments.

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