Notes from ¿Qué tal? – Expressing –self/-selves

Many English verbs that describe parts of one’s daily routine–to get up, to take a bath, and so on–are expressed in Spanish with a reflexive construction: I take a bath — me baño (literally, I bathe myself). In this section you will learn to use reflexive pronouns, as well as other verbs that are used reflexively, to talk about your daily routine.

In Spanish, whenever the subject does anything to or for him-/her-/itself, a reflexive pronoun (un pronombre reflexivo) is used. The Spanish reflexive pronouns are me, te, and se in the singular; nos, os, and se in the plural. English reflexives end in –self/-selves: myself, yourself, and so on.

The pronoun –se at the end of an infinitive indicates that the verb is used reflexively. When the verb is conjugated, the reflexive pronoun that corresponds to the subject must be used: (yo) me baño, () te bañas, and so on.

The following Spanish verbs are used with reflexive pronouns. Many of them are also stem-changing.

acostarse (ue) – to go to bed
afeitarse – to shave
bañarse – to take a bath
despertarse (ie) – to wake up
divertirse (ie) – to have a good time, enjoy oneself
dormirse (ue) – to fall asleep
dücharse – to take a shower
levantarse – to get up; to stand up
ponerse – to put on (clothing)
quedarse – to stay; remain
quitarse – to take off (clothing)
sentarse (ie) – to sit down
vestirse (i) – to get dressed

After ponerse and quitarse, the definite article (not the possessive, as in English) is used with articles of clothing.

Se pone el abrigo. – He’s putting on his coat.
Se quitan el sombrero – They’re taking off their hats.

All of these verbs used with reflexive pronouns can also be used nonreflexively, often with a different meaning. For example, you have used dormir to mean to sleep; note that dormirse means to fall asleep. Poner means to put or to place; when used reflexively it means to put on.

Placment of Ref1exive Pronouns
Reflexive pronouns are placed before a conjugated verb but after the word no in a negative sentence: No se bañan. They may either precede the conjugated verb or be attached to an infinitive.

Me tengo que levantar temprano | Tengo que levantarme temprano – I have to get up early.

Regardless of its position, the reflexive pronoun reflects the subject of the sentence.

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