1. Reflexive Se
  2. Reciprocal Se
  3. Indirect Object Pronoun Se
  4. Impersonal Se
  5. Passive Se

You have probably seen the pronoun se before if you studied reflexive verbs at the beginning of your Spanish learning journey. However, se has many functions in Spanish that can be very easy to confuse. In this introduction to se, you will briefly look at its most common uses and how to tell them apart.



Se ve que se quieren porque se abrazan mucho.

One can tell they love each other because they hug a lot.

Reflexive Se

Rule 1. One of the most common uses of se is to accompany third-person singular (él, ella, usted) and plural (ellos, ellas, ustedes) when using reflexive verbs. Remember that reflexive verbs are those where the action affects the person who is performing it. Therefore, it is very common for daily routine verbs to be reflexive.



Él se lava los dientes todos los días por las mañanas.

He brushes his teeth every day in the morning.

Ellas se cepillan el cabello diario.

They brush their hair daily.

Reciprocal Se

Rule 2. As its name implies, reciprocal refers to an action affecting or taking place between two or more persons. In English, one could add each other to identify that the action is performed in this way.



Ellos se miran.

They look at each other.

In this case, the action of looking at each other is reciprocal, because both people are doing it.

Let's see another example.



Ana y Pedro se conocieron en la fiesta.

Ana and Pedro met (each other) at the party.

Indirect Object Pronoun Se

Thinking back a bit, indirect object pronouns are used to substitute a noun to or for which an action is being performed. Do you remember what the third person object pronoun is? If you said le and les, you got them right!



Le compré este libro a Ana.

I bought this book for Ana.

Rule 3. When these pronouns are accompanied by a direct object pronoun — that is, when working as double object pronounsle and les should be changed to se to avoid the repeated sound that le + lo, la, los, las would make. Here is an example comparing the correct form with the incorrect one.


-¿A quién le compraste ese libro?

- <strong>Le</strong> lo compré a Ana.


-¿A quién le compraste ese libro?

- Se lo compré a Ana.

Impersonal Se

Rule 4. In Spanish, it is common to use se to talk about situations without explicitly expressing who performed the action, because the subject is not relevant in this case. Impersonal se is always singular.



En México se come bien.

Mexico is a good place to eat.

Se puede perder peso con ejercicio.

You can lose weight with exercise.

Who sells or rents the apartment? An unspecified identity.

Sometimes, it can be translated into English as one does something.



Se vive bien en esta ciudad.

One lives well in this city.

Passive Se

Rule 5. Finally, we have the passive se. With this one, it is also irrelevant who is performing the action. For this reason, it can be confused with the impersonal se; however, three things must be taken into account:

1. The passive se is a construction of Spanish and other languages, so it cannot be translated directly to English, as is sometimes possible to do with impersonal constructions.

2. The passive se only works with transitive verbs — that is, verbs that require an object to receive the action.

3. Finally, passive se does vary in number and gender, because it must agree with the direct object of the active expression, which became the grammatical subject of the passive expression.



Se analizaron los datos.

The data was analyzed.



Ana se baña en las noches.


correct answers.