Spanish Reflexive Pronouns

Reflexive pronouns are a group of pronouns which are used with reflexive verbs – verbs in which the subject performs an action to itself. Reflexive pronouns are very similar to other pronouns, both in their form and their use.

Reflexive Pronouns Forms

REFLEXIVE PRONOUNS
Me Nos
Te Os
Se

Singular

SPANISH ENGLISH TRANSLATION
Me Me, myself
Te You, yourself
Se Himself, herself, itself

Plural

SPANISH ENGLISH TRANSLATION
Nos Ourselves, each other
Os Yourselves (informal – vosotros)
Se Themselves (formal – ustedes)

As you can see, “se” is used both in the singular and plural. We’ve translated these pronouns as “themselves, myself”, etc, but this is not necessarily the correct translation. Depending on the context, it could also mean “to each other”:

(Nosotros) nos hablamos → We talk to each other

Reflexive pronouns are only used when the subject is also the object. So, in the above sentence, “nos”, the object, refers to “nosotros”, the subject. By bearing this in mind, you’ll be able to find the correct translation.

Pronoun Placement

In indicative tenses (ie – non-subjunctive), the reflexive pronoun goes before the verb:

Me acuesto tarde, me levanto temprano   → I go to bed late, I get up early

In negative commands, you also put the reflexive pronoun before the verb:

¡No se vayan! → Don’t go!

You join the reflexive pronoun to the end of both gerunds and infinitives:

¡Hay que levantarnos muy temprano mañana! → We have to get up very early tomorrow!

If the infinitive or gerund follows another verb, then the reflexive pronoun can go either before or after the verb group. If it goes after, it is attached to the verb with no spaces:

Tengo que afeitarme or Me tengo que afeitar → I have to shave

Se estan lavando or Estan lavándose → They are washing themselves

Notice that with the gerund (“ando” or “(i)endo” form), you will often have to add a written accent to the second syllable, which preserves the stress, as can be seen with “lavándose“.