Spanish reflexive verbs and reflexive pronouns are two intrinsically related grammatical concepts. In this article, you will learn all about their relationship, uses, forms, and some examples.
Ready to start? Let’s dive into verbos and pronombres reflexivos!
According to the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language (Real Academia de la Lengua Española), the Castilian term ‘reflexivo’ comes from the Latin «reflectĕre», which means “to go back” (volver hacia atrás).
Therefore, as the name indicates, reflexive pronouns can be identified because they indicate that the expressed action looks backs to the subject.
These would be the equivalent of the English reflexive pronouns such as ‘myself’, ‘herself’, ‘itself’, ‘oneself’, ‘themselves’, and ‘yourselves’. These can be recognized by the endings –self and –selves!
Spanish reflexive pronouns are types of words that are used in conjunction with verbs to show that a person or something is performing an action for herself or itself in the same clause.
In this list, the Spanish reflexive pronouns are marked in BOLD. Remember that every time you use a reflexive pronoun it must match the number and gender of the person!
Reflexive pronouns are used with reflexive verbs to point out that the direct object is also the subject. As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, this means that the person is performing the action expressed by the verb on herself.
A simple affirmative statement sentence structure would look like this:
NOUN + REFLEXIVE PRONOUN + REFLEXIVE VERB
But sometimes the noun can be completely omitted.
Reflexive verbs always require a reflexive pronoun! Practice the conjugation with the reflexive verb ‘duchar’ (to shower).
|PERSONAL PRONOUN||REFLEXIVE PRONOUN||REFLEXIVE VERB|
Nonetheless, Castilian can be a bit tricky!
For instance, the sentence “She wanted to impress her boyfriend, so she cooked dinner herself.” could be translated to Spanish in several ways:
Here the last option being the most appropriate.
Notice how none of the above include the Spanish reflexive pronoun ‘se’ (pertaining the third person singular ‘ella’); if it had, the meaning would completely change.
‘Se preparó la cena’ means that she prepared dinner only for her, excluding the boyfriend from the equation, and making no sense!
The correct translation would be the expression ‘ella misma’.
Therefore, to avoid confusion, a reflexive pronoun in English is often translated to Spanish with the complement ‘a sí mismo’, but it only works when the subject is the one who actually performs the action.
In colloquial Spanish you can find the use of the phrase ‘ella sola’ or ‘él solo’ in substitution of ‘por sí mismo’, or even ‘por sí solo’.
Finally, it is also common to come across expressions with the reflexive form of ‘se’ before another reflexive pronoun such as ‘me’.
The correct grammar would be:
And you can even find this kind of mistaken combinations:
The right way of using a reflexive pronoun and a reflexive verb in this sentence is:
Spanish reflexive verbs in their impersonal form are constructed with the addition of the suffix –se. Many of which form part of our daily routine!
Personal Vs. Impersonal:
In some instances, emotions can be converted into reflexive verbs.
In Spanish a reflexive pronoun can vary its position in the sentence in the following scenarios:
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