A Simple Guide to the 5 Spanish Reflexive Pronouns
Do you want to learn about the 5 Spanish reflexive pronouns? You’ve come to the right place!
In this post, we’ll explore the world dominated by me, te, se, nos, and os. These weird little words enable reflexive words to work.
Now, you might be asking, “what are reflexive verbs?” Keep reading to find out and get lots of examples of how to correctly use Spanish reflexive pronouns. Plus, I’ll provide you with a handy table to quickly identify all of them.
What are Spanish Reflexive Pronouns?
Every time I try to explain the Spanish reflexive pronouns, I confirm that the best way to do it is by highlighting the fact that they also exist in English. The words “myself,” “yourself,” “himself,” “herself,” “ourselves,” “yourselves,” and “themselves” play the exact same role as the Spanish reflexive pronouns.
You have to use Spanish reflexive pronouns when the subject of a verb is also its object. Or, to think about it in a slightly different way: use a reflexive verb when the subject of the sentence acts on itself.
Now you know what their function is and what they mean, but why do they have to be pronouns? Well, that has something to do with some words we have in Spanish that are called “reflexive verbs.”
Reflexive Pronouns vs Reflexive Verbs
I used the versus (vs) preposition on the heading, to indicate that I will differentiate reflexive pronouns from reflexive verbs. In reality, the relationship between them is not antagonistic but rather collaborative.
Reflexive verbs are “verbs that perform an action upon themselves. [They] always accompany a reflexive pronoun which receives the action.” There you have it: reflexive verbs and reflexive pronouns always go hand-in-hand.
Another way to explain the relationship between these two types of words is to say that reflexive pronouns exist to indicate who is receiving the action of the reflexive verb.
The 5 Spanish Reflexive Pronouns
There are 5 Spanish reflexive pronouns:
Usually, they come before the verb or are attached to the infinitive, imperative, or gerund.
I’ll start with a table to display all the reflexive pronouns in one place, so you can see their English equivalent and which personal pronoun they are related to. Then, I’ll discuss each reflexive pronoun separately.
Notice how the Spanish reflexive pronouns either precede the verb or come attached as an ending to the infinitive, imperative, or gerund.
|Personal Pronoun||Reflexive Pronoun|
|yo – I||me – myself|
|tú – you (singular informal)||te – yourself|
|usted – you (singular formal)||se – yourself|
|él – he||se – himself|
|ella – she||se – herself|
|nosotros – we||nos – ourselves|
|vosotros – you (plural informal – Spain)||os – yourselves|
|ustedes – you (plural formal – Latin America)||se – yourselves|
|ellos – they (masculine)||se – themselves|
|ellas – they (feminine)||se – themselves|
1. Me – myself
Me is only used for the first person singular yo, and it allows you to reflect the action on yourself.
(Yo) Me veo en el espejo.
I see myself in the mirror.
Voy a ducharme.
I’m going to shower (myself).
Me peino cada mañana.
I comb my hair (myself) every morning.
2. Te – yourself (informal)
Just like me, te is only used for one person. In this case, the second person singular (informal) tú, and it allows you to reflect the action on the person you’re talking to.
¿Tú te amas?
Do you love yourself?
Tienes que perdonarte.
You have to forgive yourself.
¿Te llamas Francisco?
Is Francisco your name?
Literal: Do you call yourself Francisco?
3. Se – yourself (formal), yourselves (formal) himself, herself, itself, themselves, each other
If me and te can only be used with one person, se is the most adaptable of the Spanish reflexive pronouns. It works with the formal version of the second person singular and plural, as well as the third person singular and plural in all its versions.
Although “it” doesn’t appear in the table above because there’s no Spanish equivalent, the reflexive pronoun se does function in the exact same role as the English word “itself.” So you also use it to talk about animals and things.
Finally, I’m including the form “each other,” as se also plays that role.
Usted no se preocupe.
Don’t worry (yourself).
¿Ustedes se afeitan?
Do you shave (yourselves)?
Carlos se golpeó en el ojo.
Carlos hit himself in the eye.
María está vistiéndose.
Maria is getting (herself) dressed.
La nieve se derritió.
The snow melted (itself).
Mis hermanos se sentaron en la última fila.
My brothers sat (themselves) in the last row of seats.
Mis tías están divirtiéndose.
My aunts are having fun (themselves).
They greet each other.
4. Nos – ourselves, each other
Nos is only used for the first person plural: nosotros (we). It allows you to reflect the action on a group of people that includes yourself. It also functions as “each other.”
Tu y yo nos queremos mucho.
You and I love each other a lot.
Carlos y yo nos odiamos.
Carlos and I hate each other.
Nos consolamos con helado.
We comfort ourselves with ice cream.
5. Os – yourselves (informal)
Os is the reflexive pronoun for the second person plural in its informal version: vosotros. This term is mostly used in Spain, while in Latin America people simply use ustedes, without differentiating between formal and informal. It also works as the “each other” construction.
Os estáis lastimando.
You’re hurting yourselves.
Amaros los unos a los otros.
Love one another.
Final Thoughts on Spanish Reflexive Pronouns
So, those were the five Spanish reflexive pronouns! Now you know to use them when the subject of a verb is also the object. (In other words, when you have a reflexive verb and need to indicate the receiver of the action of that verb.)
Remember that the reflexive pronouns can come just before the verb or attached at the end of an infinitive or gerund.
Correctly using Spanish reflexive pronouns is a great sign that you’re moving up to the intermediate level. Sign up for a free trial class with one of our certified, native Spanish-speaking teachers from Guatemala and start using Spanish reflexive pronouns in real-life conversations today!
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