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Learn Medical Spanish – Reflexive Verbs in Spanish

Learn Medical Spanish – Reflexive Verbs in Spanish

This free Medical Spanish lesson focuses on Reflexive Verbs in Spanish. In this lesson, I teach what most of the Me’s, Te’s & Se’s in everyday Spanish conversation are and how to use them.

Here is the reflexive verbs in Spanish lesson I taught to the Facebook group:

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Empezamos con unos ejemplos:

  1. La mamá baña al bebé (bañar) = The mom bathes the baby. vs La mamá se baña (bañarse) = The mom bathes herself (takes a bath).
  2. El perro despierta a la señorita (despertar o-ie) = The dog wakes the lady. vs La señorita se despierta (despertarse e-io) = The lady wakes herself

¿Qué es un verbo reflexivo?

Lets actually start with verbs that aren’t reflexive. These are the typical things we say most of the time. There is a subject who does an action to another object. Por ejemplo…

Verbo no reflexivo:

  • El perro despierta a la señorita. The dog wakes the lady.
  • Yo llamo a la doctora. I call the doctor

En los dos ejemplos arriba, el sujeto hace una acción a otro objeto. Reflexive verbs, however, replace that other object (la señorita y la doctora)

Verbo reflexivo:

  • Ella se despierta. She wakes herself.
  • Yo me llamo Rory. I call myself Rory.

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 ¿Cómo se forman los verbos reflexivos?

The verb will conjugate normally depending on whatever tense you’re working in. For these example we’re using the present tense. The difference is that you need to add what we call the “reflexive pronoun” to the verb to add the “self” meaning. Let’s look at the verb despertar (e-ie):

Despertarse (e>ie)

Yo… me despierto.

Tú… te despiertas.

El, Ella, Usted… se despierta.

Nosotros… nos despertamos.

Vosotros… os despertáis.

Ellos, Ellas, Ustedes… se despiertan.

To make a verb imply that the subject is doing the action to him/her/it “self”, you add the appropriate reflexive pronoun (in red): me, te, se, nos, os, se. Here is a contrasting example with the verbs levantar and levantarse

Levantar (no reflexivo)

Levantarse (reflexivo):

Yo… levanto = I raiseYo… me levanto = I raise myself (get up)
Tú… levantas = you raiseTú… te levantas = you raise yourself (get up)
El, Ella, Usted… levanta = he/she/you raiseEl, Ella, Usted… se levanta = he/she/you get up
Nosotros… levantamos = we raiseNosotros… nos levantamos = we get up
Vosotros… levantáis. = you all raiseVosotros… os levantáis. = you all get up
Ellos, Ellas, Ustedes… levantan. = they/you all raiseEllos, Ellas, Ustedes… se levantan. = they/you all get up


You may be wondering why you hear “levántese” and “siéntese”…. are those reflexive as well or something else?

They are reflexive verbs, but the “se” is now attached to the end of the verb instead of being at the beginning. This isn’t random, there is a simple rule:

  • In normal conjugations, the reflexive pronoun is detached from the verb and goes before the verb.
  • With affirmative commands and verbs that are not conjugated (infinitives), the reflexive pronoun is attached to the verb at the end.

Examples of normal conjugations before the verb:

  • Mis hijas se duchan cada dos normalmente = my daughters shower (themselves) every other day normally.
  • Mi hijo se ducha todos los días = my son showers (himself) every day.

Examples of the pronoun attached at the end:

  • Después de prácticas de fútbol, las niñas necesitan ducharse = After soccer practice, the girls need to shower (themselves). Ducharse is an infinitive verb.
  • A veces mi hijo huele mal y necesita dos duchas por día. Yo le digo, “Dúchate Caleb”. = Sometimes my son smells bad and needs two showers a day. I tell him, “Take a shower Caleb” Dúchate is a command

I packaged all of this into easily downloadable .pdf notes– Get your copy for free today!

Download Reflexive Verbs in Spanish Notes TODAY

Keep up the good work speaking responsible Spanish to your patients! Check out our other books, classes & products to help you learn medical Spanish!

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Rory Foster
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Rory is passionate about the Spanish language, an expert instructor, and specifically energized by the practical use of language in industry & community settings.
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