Reflexive Verbs: Konjugation and Usage
Reflexive verbs refer to the subject performing the action. They function in Spanish with a reflexive pronoun (se = oneself). In English, you add a reflexive pronoun too, but it is not seen as part of the verb.
To wash (oneself)
Conjugation with an Example
|yo me levanto|
|tú te levantas|
|él / ella se levanta|
|nosotros / nosotras nos levantamos|
|vosotros / vosotras os levantáis|
|ellos / ellas se levantan|
Rule 1: The verb "levantarse" (to get up) is reflexive and therefore must be accompanied by the respective reflexive pronoun in each conjugation. Reflexive pronouns are similar to object pronouns except for the third person ("se").
The Reflexive Pronouns at a Glance:
Rule 2: In the sentence, reflexive pronouns come directly before the verb. If the subject is mentioned, the pronoun of the reflexive verb stands between the subject and the verb.
Juan se levanta a las 7:30.
Juan gets up at 7:30 a.m.
Reflexive and Non-Reflexive Verbs
Some verbs have a reflexive and a non-reflexive form. Sometimes the meaning is similar, while in other cases it can be very different.
to wash (oneself) / shower
The example shows that the verb retains its meaning. In the second case, only the self-reference is added by the reflexive pronoun.
to meet / find
to be (located)
In this case, the meaning of the reflexive verb already deviates a bit more and the omission of the reflexive pronoun could change the context of the sentence.
Juan encuentra la plaza.
Juan finds the marketplace.
Juan se encuentra en la plaza.
Juan is at the marketplace.
Rule 3: There are also verbs that completely change their meaning with a reflexive pronoun.
We go (somewhere).
Nosotros nos vamos.
to go away (leave)
We go away (leave).
Position in the Sentence
Rule 4: In most cases, the reflexive verb is placed after the subject together with its pronoun. However, it can also appear in its infinitive form in combination with other conjugated verbs (e.g.: levantarse).
Juan quiere levantarse a las 8.
Juan wants to get up at 8 o'clock.
As you can see, the reflexive pronoun is attached to the infinitive of the verb.
Rule 5: Something similar happens with reflexive verbs in the gerund or imperative:
Los chicos están duchandose.
The boys are taking a shower.
Go shower! (Shower yourself!)
What is the correct sentence order?