How to Conjugate Reflexive Verbs in Spanish


Guide Chapters

For a lot of Spanish learners, knowing how to conjugate reflexive verbs is a challenging topic since they also need to work with pronouns. Since these types of verbs are very common in Spanish conversations, many learners wonder how to conjugate reflexive verbs in Spanish. 

To conjugate a reflexive verb, it is necessary to identify the verb group in which it belongs (-ar, -er, -ir) and follow the verb endings for that group. Additionally, the reflexive pronouns need to be changed to match the subject that is performing the action. 

Conjugating reflexive verbs may seem difficult because of the presence of the reflexive pronoun. Since these verbs are very important in Spanish, in the following sections, we’ll explain how to conjugate reflexive verbs in different tenses and what to do with the reflexive pronouns.

Additionally, we’ll provide real-life examples and phrase structures that you need to use for each case. 

Jump to a Section of this Guide:

By the end of this, you’ll have a better understanding of how to conjugate reflexive verbs in Spanish.

How to Conjugate Reflexive Verbs in Spanish

Even though at first glance they seem completely different, all reflexive verbs fall into one of the following Spanish verb groups: -ar, -er, -ir. As a result, conjugating a reflexive verb is not different from conjugating a normal verb: they both follow the same endings and rules. The only difference is that reflexive verbs also need to be accompanied by a reflexive pronoun. 

In other words, a standard verb and its reflexive form have the same conjugation and you just need to add the proper reflexive pronoun. Here are some quick steps that you can follow when conjugating reflexive verbs:

1. Look at the 2 letters that come before ‘se’ (see only says that this is a reflexive verb) to identify the Spanish verb group that you’re dealing with. Tip: it needs to be ‘-ar’, ‘-er’, or ‘-ir’.

2. Once you have identified its verb group, conjugate the reflexive verb by following the endings for this specific group.

3. Change ‘se’ so it matches the subject of the action. 

Subject Reflexive Pronoun
Yo me
te
Él / Ella / Ustedse
Nosotrosnos
Vosotrosos
Ellos/ Ellas / Ustedesse

Katia se maquilla todos los días
Katia puts on make-up every day

¿Qué te pusiste en el cabello?
What did you put in your hair?

Nosotros nos bajamos en la siguiente parada
We get off at the next stop

Take Note: If you’re familiar with conjugating verbs in Spanish, you will notice that a reflexive verb is conjugated exactly the same way as its non-reflexive form. 

How to Conjugate Reflexive Verbs in Present Tense

As mentioned above, the key to conjugating reflexive verbs is to identify which conjugation verb group they belong and follow the proper endings. Don’t forget to include the reflexive pronouns.  Here are some examples of conjugating reflexive verbs in present tense:

  • Bañarse
  • Vestirse
  • Ponerse

As you may have noticed, ‘bañarse’ is a reflexive verb that falls in the verb group ‘-ar’, ‘ponerse’ in the ‘-er’ group and ‘vestirse’ ends with ‘-ir’. Here you have the endings that you need to follow for these types of verbs:

Subject Ar verb endingsEr verb endingsIr verb endings
Yo – o-o-o
-as-es-es
Él / Ella / Usted-a-e-e
Nosotros-amos-emos-imos
Vosotros-áis-éis-ís
Ellos/ Ellas / Ustedes-an-en-en

Now that you know what endings you need to use, you can follow the next phrase structure:

(Subject) + [reflexive pronoun] + [verb conjugated]

Yo me baño en la mañana
I shower in the morning

te pones mucho gel en el cabello
You put a lot of gel on your hair

Mi hermana siempre se pone mi ropa
My sister always puts my clothes on

Vosotros os vestís muy bien
You guys dress very well

Nosotros nos vestimos para ir a una fiesta
We get dressed to go to a party

Ustedes se bañan con agua fría
You guys shower with cold water

Take Note: The same changes that affect a non-reflexive verb will be applicable to its reflexive form. So, if a non-reflexive form is irregular or has a stem change, this would also be applied to the reflexive form. 

IrIrse
Má, voy a la tienda
Mom, I’m going to the store
Má, ya me voy
Mom, I’m leaving

Related Resource: Spanish Verbs that Change Meaning in Reflexive

How to Conjugate Reflexive Verbs in Past Tense

When dealing with reflexive verbs and different Spanish tenses, you still need to follow rules mentioned earlier: identify the reflexive verb’s group, follow the proper endings for that group and include a reflexive pronoun that matches the subject. Here are some examples as well as the endings you need to use when you want to conjugate reflexive verbs in past tense:

  • Cambiarse
  • Dormirse
  • Ponerse

Preterite Endings

Subject Ar verb endingsEr verb endingsIr verb endings
Yo – é
-aste-iste-iste
Él / Ella / Usted-ió-ió
Nosotros-amos-imos-imos
Vosotros-asteis-isteis-isteis
Ellos/ Ellas / Ustedes-aron-ieron-ieron

Once you have identified the endings that you need, use the following phrase structure:

(Subject) + [personal pronoun] + [verb conjugated]

Ayer me dormí muy temprano
Yesterday I fell asleep very early

Me gustó la camisa que te pusiste ayer
I liked the shirt that you wore yesterday

Nosotros nos pusimos nuestras gorras nuevas
We put our new hats on

¿Por qué se cambiaron de zapatos?
Why did you guys change your shoes?

Take Note: The same changes that affect a non-reflexive verb will be applicable to its reflexive form. So, if a non-reflexive form is irregular or has a stem change, this would also be applied to its reflexive form. 

Sandra se fue de la oficina
Sandra left the office

If instead of working with preterite, you need your reflexive verbs in the imperfect tense, you will need to use the following endings. 

Imperfect endings

Subject Ar verb endingsEr verb endingsIr verb endings
Yo – aba-ía-ía
-abas-ías-ías
Él / Ella / Usted-aba-ía-ía
Nosotros-ábamos-íamos-íamos
Vosotros-abais-íais-íais
Ellos/ Ellas / Ustedes-aban-ían-ían

(Subject) + [personal pronoun] + [verb conjugated]

Cuando era niña, me dormía muy temprano
When I was a little girl, I used to fall asleep very early

Mi prima se cambiaba de ropa todo el tiempo
My cousin changed her clothes all the time

Mi hermana y yo nos poníamos los zapatos de mi mamá
My sister and I used to put my mom’s shoes on

How to Conjugate Reflexive Verbs in Future Tense

Reflexive verbs in future tense are different from other tenses, since they all use the same endings when conjugated. This means that the verb group endings do not impact the future tense endings used. 

Instead, the future tense endings only depend on the subject / pronoun they’re used with and they are appended to the end of the verbs’ infinitive form.

Subject Future endings
Yo – é
-ás
Él / Ella / Usted
Nosotros-emos
Vosotros-éis
Ellos/ Ellas / Ustedes-án

Subject + [personal pronoun] + [verb conjugated]

Ustedes se divertirán mucho en México
You guys will have a lot of fun in Mexico

Mañana me levantaré tarde porque es sábado
Tomorrow I will wake up late because it’s Saturday

Ahorita nos vamos, Sandra se pondrá otros zapatos
We’ll go in a minute, Sandra will put other shoes on

Vosotros os afeitaréis mañana en la mañana
You guys will shave tomorrow morning

Infinitive Reflexive Verbs in Spanish

In Spanish, the infinitive form of a reflexive verb is indicated with the ‘se’ ending (bañarse, vestirse, ponerse). As you may know, infinitive forms are very useful as auxiliary verbs. In other words, they can be used when building more complex sentences with more than one verb.

Usually, this doesn’t represent a big problem in Spanish. However, when a sentence has more than one verb and one of them is in reflexive form, you will need to adapt the reflexive pronoun to match the subject and object of the sentence. For sentences with more than one verb, you have two possible phrase structures: 

(Subject) + [Reflexive pronoun] + [verb conjugated] + [reflexive verb infinitive]

Ya me voy a subir al avión
I’m going to get on the plane

Lauren y Thomas se quieren cambiar de departamento
Lauren and Thomas want to change apartments 

Nosotros nos queremos dormir temprano porque estamos cansados
We want to sleep early because we’re tired

Here’s another popular variation. Notice that with this phrase structure, the reflexive verb and the pronoun will become one word. 

Subject + [verb conjugated]+ [reflexive verb infinitive] + [Reflexive pronoun]

Voy a subirme al avión
I’m going to get on the plane

Lauren y Thomas quieren cambiarse de departamento
Lauren and Thomas want to change apartments 

Nosotros queremos dormirnos temprano porque estamos cansados
We want to sleep early because we’re tired

Take Note: In the previous examples, even though the reflexive verb is in infinitive form, you still need to change ‘se’ for the proper reflexive pronoun that indicates who is performing and receiving the action. Both phrase structures are quite popular in Spanish and using one or the other depends on people’s preferences. 

How to Do Negative Reflexive Verbs in Spanish

For many Spanish learners, using reflexive verbs in negative statements may seem confusing because they don’t know the structure that they should follow. In these cases, the presence of the reflexive pronoun doesn’t affect the order. 

Like any other Spanish negative sentences, the word no needs to be placed before the pronoun and the conjugated verb. Here is the phrase structure that you need as well as some examples:

No + [reflexive pronoun] + [verb conjugated]

Ustedes no se pusieron el uniforme
You didn’t put on the uniform

Mi hermana no se baña en las mañanas
My sister doesn’t shower in the mornings

No nos cepillaremos los dientes en este momento
We won’t brush our teeth now

Take Note: Notice that ‘no’ always precedes the conjugated verb and the pronoun, no matter which tense that you’re using. 

Asking Questions with Reflexive Verbs in Spanish

In Spanish, when asking questions with reflexive verbs, there are no special extra rules that you need to follow. Like any normal question in Spanish, it’s necessary to conjugate the verb and, in this case, to include the appropriate reflexive pronoun. Here is a basic phrase structure that you can use, notice that the questions can be asked in any tense or with a negative statement: 

¿(Question word) + [reflexive pronoun] + [verb conjugated]?

¿Ya se vistieron?
Did you guys dress already?

¿Nos sentamos en esta mesa?
Should we sit at this table?

¿A qué hora te duermes?
What time do you fall asleep?

¿Por qué no nos cambiamos de ropa?
Why don’t we change our clothes?

¿Qué te pusiste en el cabello? ¡Se te ve raro!
What did you put in your hair? It looks weird!

Reflexive Verb Commands in Spanish

Spanish reflexive commands can be a little challenging to conjugate because of the presence of the pronoun. Unlike other tenses, the imperative tense follows its own rules which will change depending on whether the sentence is affirmative or negative. Here are the rules and the phrase structures that you need to follow. 

Rules for affirmative commands:

  • The pronoun always goes after the verb
  • Verb and pronoun become one word

[Verb Imperative Form + reflexive pronoun]

¡Ya ponte los zapatos! Tenemos que irnos
Put your shoes on now! We have to leave 

¡Cepíllense los dientes antes de irnos!
Brush your teeth before leaving!

¡Lávate las manos antes de comer!
Wash your hands before eating!

Rules for negatives commands:

  • The pronoun is between ‘no’ and the verb
  • Verb and pronoun are separate words

No + [reflexive pronoun] + [verb imperative form]

¡No te bañes! Es tarde
Don’t shower! It’s late

María, no te duermas porque ya nos vamos
Maria, don’t fall asleep because we’re leaving

¡Oigan, no se quiten los zapatos! El piso está sucio
Hey, guys, don’t take your shoes off! The floor is dirty

Take Note: The conjugation for Spanish commands is slightly different than the conjugation for regular verbs. Make sure you understand how to do this conjugation

When to Conjugate Reflexive Verbs in Spanish

Reflexive verbs are like any other verb in Spanish. This means that they need to be conjugated if they’re the only action in the sentence. In some cases, reflexive verbs will work in sentences with more than one verb (haber, ir, poder, querer, ect). 

In this situation, the reflexive verb will remain in its infinitive form, but the pronoun needs to change to indicate the subject and the object of the sentence. 

He querido dormirme temprano, pero no puedo
I wanted to sleep early, but I can’t

Mi hermanito no se quiere bañar
My little brother doesn’t want to shower

Wrapping Up 

When it comes to conjugating, reflexive verbs can seem a little challenging. For that reason, in this post, we discussed how to conjugate reflexive verbs in Spanish. We learned that these verbs follow the same patterns as non-reflexive verbs. In other words, you conjugate a reflexive verb in the same way that you will conjugate its standard form. 

However, we also learned that reflexive verbs work with reflexive pronouns which cannot be ignored when conjugating. Reflexive pronouns always need to match the sentence’s subject / object. Additionally, their placement will vary depending on the tense and type of sentence you choose: 

Pronoun Placing

SituationBefore the VerbAfter the Verb
Verbs in present tenseYESNO
Verbs in past tenseYESNO
Verbs in future tenseYESNO
Affirmative commandsNOYES
Negative commandsYESNO
QuestionsYESNO
Sentences with 2+ verbsYES YES

Remember that with sentences with more than one verb you have two options: it’s up to you if you want to place the pronoun before the first verb or after the second verb. Additionally, here is a quick process that you can follow to conjugate reflexive verbs:

1. Look at the 2 letters that come before ‘se’ to identify the Spanish verb group that you’re dealing with. Tip: it needs to be ‘-ar’, ‘-er’, or ‘-ir’.

2. Once you have identified its verb group, conjugate the reflexive verb by following the endings for this specific group. 
3. Adapt ‘se’ so it matches the subject of the action.

Hopefully, you now have a stronger understanding of how to conjugate reflexive verbs in Spanish.

Related Resource: Reflexive Verb Quiz

Daniela Sanchez

¡Hola! Soy Daniela Sanchez, I’ve taught Spanish in Mexico to a wide array of foreigners. From students and tourists to doctors and soldiers who’ve moved and visited here over the years. During the day I’m a freelancer and marketer, while at night I’m here writing for students of the world wide web looking to learn Spanish. I hope you find what you’re looking here during your journey into Español 🙂 Read More About Me

Recent Posts

Tell Me In Spanish