Reflexive verbs - definition, concept and what it is

A reflexive verb is one that refers to an action of a subject on himself, such as the verb to bathe, comb his hair, wash, lie down or get up. Many of the reflexive verbs are related to the routines of daily life. All these verbs have in common that they end with the pronoun se, which indicates that the verbal action falls on the person himself and, therefore, for this reason they are called reflexive verbs.

Examples of sentences with reflexive verbs

The pronoun se at the end of the verb indicates that it is a reflexive verb. However, in a sentence the pronoun can be found independently, as for example in the sentences "Maria gets up" or "Luis takes a shower". In addition to the pronoun se, reflexive verbs can be accompanied by other pronouns, such as in the sentences "I shave every day" or "we always wake up very early".

Reflexive verbs have this condition due to the action of reflexive pronouns. Thus, by way of example, the following sentences can illustrate this idea: "I wash myself", "you comb your hair", "he takes a bath", "we shower", "you shave" and "they put on makeup". The most common is that the reflexive pronouns are found before the verb, but this is not always the case. In fact, the reflexive pronoun can be attached to an infinitive or a gerund preceded by the verb estar ("I'm going to wash my hair" or "I'm fixing my mustache").

The position of the pronouns is flexible (for example, in the sentence "wash yourself now" the pronoun goes to the end of the verb but in "don't comb yourself" the pronoun precedes the verb).

Special cases of reflexive verbs

Some verbs are not strictly reflexive, but rather indicate a change of state. Some examples of these "reflective" verbs are: get angry, worry, get depressed, dare, laugh, sad, or find out. In this sense, if I say "Isabel became sad" or "my friend became a soldier" I am communicating a change of state in relation to the subject, for which the verb becomes reflexive.

Reciprocal verbs

Reciprocal verbs are similar to reflexives, since they both use the same pronouns. However, a verb is reflexive when the action affects the subject itself and a verb is reciprocal when there is an action that is simultaneously performed by two subjects. For example, in the following sentences we can observe that the pronouns appear expressing a reciprocal action: "they loved each other intensely", "the two friends got angry" or "Eva and Luis looked into each other's eyes".

Photos: iStock - nensuria / Brainsil

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