Spanishexperto Free Spanish Lessons - Reflexive Verbs with The Present Simple Tense (2023)


The first part of the lesson seeks to introduce whatreflexive verbs are and why they exist. It also attempts to explain howreflexive verbs are used and formed in comparison to normal verbs in bothEnglish and Spanish.

What are reflexive verbs?

The best way to explain what reflexive verbs are, is by looking at an example.

Normal verbs

caminar to walk
comer to eat
vivir to live

Reflexive verbs





to be called





to fall down





to leave

All of the above verbs are shown in their infinitive forms.Normal verbs end in either AR, ER or IR but allreflexive verbs have ‘se’ added to the end of the verb.

Reflexive verbs exist in both English and Spanish so that averb can be used to describe actions that relate to ourselves.The following example uses the Spanish verb llamarse (tobe called), to illustrate this concept. At this stage the intention is not toexplain how Spanish reflexive verbs are formed, this is explained in part 2 ofthe lesson.

llamarse (to be called) reflexive translation more usual translation
me llamo I call myself I’m called
te llamas you call yourself your called
se llama he/she calls himself/herself he’s / she’s called

In English, reflexive verbs use the reflexive pronouns myself,yourself, himself, herself, ourselves, and themselveswith the verb to show which form of ourselves is being described. In Spanishthe concept is the same except the reflexive pronouns are different; me, te, se, nos,os se.

Making sense of translations

Much of the time verbs that are reflexive in Spanish are nottranslated into English in a reflexive way. With the verb llamarse(to be called), it is much easier to see how reflexive verbs are used in bothEnglish and Spanish. In reality however even the verb llamarseis not very often used reflexively in English. I’m called forexample is used much more frequently than I call myself!

(Video) Reflexive Verbs in Spanish | The Language Tutor *Lesson 37*

Often, the translation of Spanishreflexive verbs into English make no sense at all. Take the example usedabove; ponerse (to put on).

me caigo - I fall down NOT I fall down myself or I myself fall down

te caes - you fall down NOT You fall down yourself or you yourself fall down

The translation into English simply doesn’t make sense.Therefore, one of the most important things to remember when learning reflexiveverbs in Spanish is that there is a good chance they won’t be used reflexivelyin English!


This part of the lesson looks at how reflexive verbs areformed in the present simple tense. To form a reflexive present tense verb twothings are always needed.

1 - The present tense formation of the verb as per normalpresent tense formations.

2 - The reflexive pronoun which is used with the verbformation to make it reflexive.

Reflexive pronouns

The reflexive pronouns that are used with verb formations tomake them reflexive correspond to the normal personal pronouns that are usedwith verb formations.

personal pronoun reflexive pronoun translation
yo me myself
te yourself
él se himself / itself
ella se herself / itself
usted se yourself (polite)
nosotros/as nos ourselves
vosotros/as os yourselves
ellos se themselves
ellas se themselves
ustedes se yourselves (polite)

The next step is to position the reflexive pronoun with thenormal verb construction and the personal pronoun. The following example usesthe reflexive verb llamarse (to be called).

(Video) Spanish Reflexive Verbs

personal pronoun reflexive pronoun normal formation translation
yo me llamo to call myself
te llamas you call yourself
él se llama he calls himself / itself
ella se llama she calls herself / itself
usted se llama you call yourself (polite)
nosotros/as nos llamamos we call ourselves
vosotros/as os llamáis you (all) call yourselves
ellos se llaman they call themselves
ellas se llaman they call themselves
ustedes se llaman you (all) call yourselves (polite)

¿Cómo te llamas? - What do you callyourself? (What is your name?)

Me llamo Alex. - Icall myself Alex. (I’m called Alex.)

Things to note

<![if !supportLists]>1)<![endif]>The formation of the verb is nodifferent to the normal formation of the verb in the present simple tense.

<![if !supportLists]>2)<![endif]>It is the reflexive pronoun thatmakes the verb reflexive.

<![if !supportLists]>3)<![endif]>The position ofreflexive pronouns in present simple tense constructions are BEFORE theverb.

<![if !supportLists]>4)<![endif]>Take care when translating intoEnglish. Many Spanish reflexive verbs are not used reflexively in practice inEnglish.


The third part of this lesson takes a look at some of themost common reflexive verbs you will come across in Spanish and how they aretranslated into English.


to go to bed


to shave


to get ready


to get scared


to bathe


to fall (down)


to marry, get married


to say goodbye to


to wake up


to have a good time / enjoy oneself


to get angry


to go away, to leave


to retire


to hurt oneself (not always physically)


to get up


to be called


to interfer, to get into


to move (house), relocate


to put on (clothes) / to become


to wonder


to preoccupy, worry oneself


to break (a bone)


to stay, remain, be left with


to laugh


to dry oneself off


to sit down


to feel (illness, emotion)


to get dressed

For a more complete list of reflexive verbs take a look atthe ‘word lists’ section of this website.

Example sentences

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Cada mañana meafeito. - I shave every morning.

Siempre nos divertimos. - We always enjoyourselves.

Me pregunto sihará lluvia. - I wonder if it willrain.

¿Cómo te sientes? - How do youfeel?

Él se sienta a milado. - He sits next to me.


The last part of the lesson explains how most reflexiveverbs can also be used in a non reflexive way. This is illustrated as followsby looking at the verb llamarse (to be called).

1- llamarse - to be called

2 -llamar - to call (vocallyor by telephone)

The difference between the two verbs is that the reflexiveone always has ‘se’ added to the end of the verb in it’simperative form.

1 - ¿Cómo te llamas? - What do you call yourself?(What is your name?)

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2 - (Yo) le llamo a Renso cada día. - I call Renso every day.

Notice that in the second sentence a reflexive pronoun isnot used. Instead an indirect object referring to Rensois used (le).

To see how each of the reflexive verbs illustrated in part 2of the lesson can be used in a non reflexive way take a look at the words listsection of this website. Below is a short list of some of the most common verbsthat are used interchangeably in this way.

noraml verb meaning reflexive verb meaning
ir to go irse to go away, leave
arreglar to mend arreglarse to get ready
caer to fall caerse to fall down
poner to put ponerse to put on / to become
sentir to feel (physically) sentirse to feel ill (emotionally)
despedir to fire / sack despedirse to say goodbye

ir (to go)

(Yo) voy alcentro de deportes dos veces cada semana.

I go to thesports centre twice a week.

Irse (to go away, to leave)

(Yo) me voy a lascuatro cada tarde.

I leave at fourevery afternoon.

That concludes this lesson on reflexive verbs part 1. Ifyou have not done so already watch the actual video for this lesson and thentry one of the associated quizzes to test your understanding.


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