The Grammar of Spanish Reflexive Verbs
163. A reflexive verb is a verb
having as direct or indirect object a reflexive pronoun. The subject
and object of a reflexive verb represent the same person or thing.
|yo me engaño,
||I deceive myself, I am mistaken
|tú te engañas,
||you are mistaken, etc.
|él, ella, usted se engaña
|nosotros, -as, nos engañamos
|vosotros, -as, os engañáis
|ellos, ellas, ustedes se engañan
164. Reflexive Pronouns. The reflexive
pronouns of the first and second persons are the same in form as
the personal object pronouns, me, te, nos, os. For
the third person the reflexive pronoun is se, singular
and plural, masculine and feminine, with the prepositional form,
sí. The prepositional forms of the reflexive
pronouns of the first and second persons are also the same as those
of the personal object pronouns, mí, ti, etc.
a. The position of the reflexive pronouns is governed
by the same rules which govern the position of the object pronouns
(140). The reflexive se,
however, precedes all other forms.
165. When the prepositional forms of the reflexive
pronouns are used, they are usually followed by the intensive
|Yo me amo a mí
||I love myself.
|Ellos se aman a sí mismos.
||They love themselves.
|Ella se ama a sí misma.
||She loves herself.
166. Kinds of Reflexive Verbs. The reflexive
verb has various uses in Spanish. Any transitive verb may be made
reflexive if the meaning permits it.
a. The reflexive verb may be used as a substitute for
|No se ven ahora.
||They are not seen now.
|Todavía no se ha comprado
|The house has not been
|Esto se hizo el año
||This was done last year.
|¿A qué hora se
abrirán las puertas?
||At what hour will the doors
1. When employed impersonally for the English indefinite second
or third person, the reflexive verb is always in the third person
|Se dice que habrá
||They say (it is said) that
there will be war.
|Aquí se habla francés.
||French is spoken here.
|No se debe comer tan aprisa.
||One must not eat so fast.
|¿Qué se estudia
||What do you study here?
b. Many verbs, which may be used intransitively in English,
require an object in Spanish, such as levantarse, 'to
rise,' sentarse, 'to sit,' caerse, 'to
||He rises (lit. he raises
c. Some verbs are always reflexive in Spanish. Some
of the most common are:
d. In some cases the intransitive verb has a different,
or slightly different, meaning when used reflexively.
||to put to bed.
||to lie down,
go to bed.
cause to rejoice.
||to rejoice, be glad.
||to run away, escape.
||to go away.
e. Some verbs are used reflexively or not reflexively,
with no change of meaning. Among the most common are:
167. Impersonal Reflexive Construction. The
verb of the impersonal reflexive construction (166 a,1)
may often be used actively and it then governs a direct or an indirect
|Se le habló al
||They spoke to the teacher.
|No se le dijo nada.
||Nothing was said to him,
they told him nothing.
|Se nos pagaba.
||They paid us, we were paid.
|Se la admitió.
||She was admitted.
a. The above construction cannot be used when the object
represents a thing. In that case the noun object becomes subject
and the ordinary relfexive is used to form the passive,
the verb agreeing with the subject:
|Los libros se leyeron
(= fueron leídos, never
se les leyó).
||The books were read.
|Ya se compraron los lápices.
||The pencils have already been bought.
168. When the reflexive verb takes two objects,
the reflexive pronoun may have the force of an indirect object pronoun.
|Me quito el sombrero.
||I take off my hat.
|Se ponen los guantes.
||They are putting on their gloves.
|Debes ponerte el sobretodo.
||You must put on your overcoat.
a. The student will also observe that in this construction
the article is used for the possessive adjective.