Have you ever seen a Spanish verb that ended with “se” and not your typical “ar”, “er” or “ir ending? When seeing the verb “Sentar” then “Sentarse” does it have the same meaning? What are these types of endings? When do we use them? So many questions come instantly when students encounter these unusual endings. By the end of this article, you should be able to have a better understanding of what they are and how to use them.
Getting to Know These “se” Endings
The ending “se” that you may find at the end of infinitive verbs are called reflexive verbs. Reflexive verbs are to indicate that someone or something is performing an action on or for itself by using reflexive pronouns. Reflexive verbs are not a new tense, like the present, past or future. These verbs are actions, in a sense, that one would do ‘to themselves”.
Let me explain. In English, to indicate that “I bathe” I am going to use “myself” which is a reflexive pronoun in English. So I’ll more likely say “I bathe myself.” In Spanish, to bathe is “bañarse” so I will say “me baño.”. The ‘se’ will come off of the end and change into one of the following called “reflexive pronouns”
|Te (informal)||yourself||Os (informal)||yourselves|
|Se (él)||himself||Se (ellos)||themselves|
|Se (ella)||herself||Se (ellas)||themselves|
|Se (ud/polite)||yourself||Se (uds) (polite)||yourselves|
You can use either the present, past of future forms of the initial verbs and you will remove the “se” off of the end and move it before the conjugated verb.
|(Yo) me ducho cada mañana.||I shower every morning.|
|Te peinas antes de salir.||You brush your hair before going out.|
|Se hablaba mucho.||He was talking to himself a lot./She was talking to herself a lot./ You were talking to yourself a lot.|
|Nos vemos en el espejo.||We see ourselves in the mirror.|
|Os hablabais en el español.||You will spoke Spanish yourselves.|
|Se cantará con Luis Miguel.||He himself will be singing with Luis Miguel./ She herself will be singing with Luis Miguel./ You yourself will be singing with Luis Miguel|
We can also add reflexive pronouns to the verbs that are not regularly reflexive in order to make them reflexive. For example:
|ver(se)||to see one’s self|
|hablar(se)||to talk to one’s self|
|escribir(se)||to write to one’s self|
|comprar(se)||to buy (something) for one’s self|
Now, compare the two sentences in which one is reflexive and one is not. In the reflexive sentence, the subject and object refer to the same entity.
|Reflexive||Yo me lavo.||I wash myself.||Yo (I) is the subject of of the verb lavar (wash) and me (myself) is the object.|
|Not Reflexive||Yo lavo el perro.||I wash the dog.||Yo (I) is the subject of of the verb lavar (wash) and el perro (the dog) is the object.|
Now we know, reflexive verbs require the use of reflexive pronouns to indicate that the direct object of the verb is also the subject (in other words, the subject is performing the action on himself or herself). But there is another questios that has not been answered. In what situations are we really going to use this? To be honest we use the reflexive more in Spanish than English. So here are some situations where we would use Reflexive verbs.
- Reflexive pronouns can be used to add emphasis to a regular situation
- It can also be used to indicate an emotional response to something. Whether a person becomes angry, sad, happy, etc… you can express this by using reflexive verbs.
Here are common reflexive verbs that we use in Spanish on almost daily basis.
|levantarse||to get up||cepillarse los dientes||to brush your teeth|
|despertarse||to wake up||vestirse||to get dressed / to dress|
|ducharse||to take a shower / to shower||peinarse||to comb your hair|
|afeitarse||to shave||acostarse||to go to bed|
|lavarse||to wash (yourself)||bañarse||to bathe|
|dormirse||to go to sleep / fall asleep||maquillarse||to put on makeup|
|sentarse||to sit down||sentirse||to feel (an emotion)|
Now that you have the general knowledge on how Reflexive verbs work, how can we practice them? When teaching Reflexive verbs I assign a conversational practice to describe their daily routines. This is a great way to practice expressing your schedule. For example:
Me levanto a las 6 de la mañana. I wake up at 6 in the morning.
The sentence structure here would be relfexive verb (conjugated) + a la/las+ hour+ de la mañana/ de la tarde/de la noche)
In the comments below, why don’t you leave your own sentence using the reflexive verb?