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Entries in Reflexive Spanish verbs (2)

Wednesday
Apr282010

'Vamos' or 'Vámonos'?: Learning How to Conjugate Reflexive Spanish Verbs Part 'Dos'

If you missed 'Part Uno' which covers the basics to reflexive Spanish verbs, feel free to read it here:
"Se Habla Español 'Se' What?: Learning How to Conjugate Reflexive Spanish Verbs"

Reflexive Spanish Verbs Case in Point: IR and IRSE
Have you ever noticed the difference between the commands “vamos” and “vámonos”? The reason for this variation comes from the difference between the non-reflexive verb "ir" (to go) and it’s reflexive counterpart, “irse” (to leave). 

“Vamos” is the first person plural command of the verb “ir” which means “let’s go” (let us go); and “vámonos” is the first person plural command of the verb “irse” which means “let’s leave” (let us leave). If you're wondering, the first person plural form is the nosotros form (nosotros = we/us).

In the case of "vámonos," it’s important to note: when you use a reflexive verb as an affirmative command, you have to attach the reflexive pronoun to the end of the verb. In this case it is the first person plural reflexive pronoun "nos" that is attached. To illustrate:

From Appendix A: The Basics to Use Commands, page 340 of The Spanish Verb Conjugator:

10.  Regular and irregular affirmative nosotros/as commands with reflexive pronouns drop the letter “s"
       of the conjugation when “nos” is attached to the command.

                               irse:  vámonos = “vamos” - “s” + “nos”

       (Note that an accent mark is added to preserve the appropriate stress of the verb.)

Another way of looking at it would be to leave the "s" there. "Vamosnos" just doesn't sound right.

Now let’s backtrack and review the conjugations of the present, preterit, and imperfect tenses of the verb “ir” and “irse” through the following sample verb chart from The Spanish Verb Conjugator: The Beginner's Guide to Mastering Spanish Verbs.

To help the beginner become familiar with those verbs that are used both non-reflexively and reflexively, the reflexive Spanish verb charts of The Spanish Verb Conjugator present the reflexive pronouns in parenthesis indicating that they may or may not be used according to the definition needed. (Side note: the Spanish verbs  that are most often used reflexively will not have reflexive pronouns in parenthesis.)

Reflexive Spanish Verbs: More Examples
It’s important to be able to understand the subtle difference between the verbs “ir” and “irse.” Perhaps by using this common verb as an example, it will lead to a greater understanding of reflexive verbs in general.

There are some Spanish verbs that are primarily used in the reflexive; for example, acostarse, despertarse, divertirse, etc. (Re: previous side note: so within the SVC, they will not have parenthesis around the reflexive pronouns). I designed the The Spanish Verb Conjugator to make this distinction for you without digging into the linguistic reasons why. It’s easier for beginners to just try and remember which verbs are used reflexively and which verbs can be used both reflexively and non-reflexively, as dictated by the verb's definition.

Here are some examples of verbs that change meaning when used reflexively, and that are included in the core group of 110 Irregular verbs from A to Z of The Spanish Verb Conjugator:

                         acordar:  to agree                   acordarse:   to remember
                         caer:       to fall                        caerse:        to fall down
                         poner:     to put                       ponerse:      to become, to put on clothes, to set (sun)
                         probar:    to test, to prove       probarse:     to try on clothes
                         sentir:     to feel, to regret       sentirse:       to feel and emotion, ill/well

(Re: previous side note: so within the SVC, the verbs above will have parenthesis around the reflexive pronouns because they are used both reflexively and non-reflexively; to reiterate, the verbs that are most often used reflexively will not have parenthesis around the reflexive pronouns because that is their most natural state. In this way, the SVC trains the beginner to make this distinction between all reflexive Spanish verbs.)

Reflexive Spanish Verb IRSE In Context: Latin Grammy Nominee “Me Fui”
When I was a student in Costa Rica, it confused me when I heard someone say, “me voy” (I’m leaving) when they were called from another room, or someone was waiting for them outside. This frequently used reflexive verb (irse) was overlooked in my own Spanish classes, and it wasn't included in any of the textbooks that were available when I taught high school Spanish. So I felt it was important to include in my verb guide and in today's post.

"Me voy" is the present tense yo form of "irse." So that would make "me fui" the preterit past tense yo form of “irse,” which means “I left.” To put this common reflexive Spanish verb in context, here is an excellent example: the song “Me fui” by Bebe & Carlos Jean (songwriter Bebe) which was nominated for 'Song of The Year' at the 10th Annual Latin Grammy Awards in 2009.

The following links below will bring you to the Official Video (that is not available for embedding), and lyrics in Spanish and the English translation. I have also embedded a video below the links that gives a little background info on the artist, Bebe, I think she is very interesting and very unique. Enjoy! / ¡Qué disfruten!

 Click here for the "Me fui" YouTube Video Official

Click here for "Me fui" lyrics in Spanish with English translation.

 

Friday
Apr162010

Se Habla Español 'Se' What?: Learning How to Conjugate Reflexive Spanish Verbs

Reflexive Spanish verbs are very common in everyday Spanish.
It is nearly impossible to avoid using reflexive Spanish verbs. Verbs are used reflexively in Spanish more frequently than English. For these reasons, I felt it was important to include reflexive Spanish verbs in my verb guide, The Spanish Verb Conjugator, The Beginner’s Guide to Mastering Spanish Verbs, and in today's post.

Please note, however, that reflexive Spanish verbs are appropriate to study once you understand how to use the Spanish subject pronouns and conjugating regular verbs. So if this topic is premature for you, save it for later. Don’t overwhelm yourself more than necessary. You can preview this topic to offer perspective in any case.

Have you ever seen a sign in a store window advertising bilingual service that reads, “Se habla español”? When I was a beginner, this phrase confused me. I wondered why it didn’t just read, “Hablamos español” (We speak Spanish) without the reflexive pronoun (se).

“Se habla español” is the passive voice which means “Spanish is spoken” (here). This is a good example of how reflexive Spanish verbs are commonly used yet confusing to beginners whose native language is English.

Reflexive Spanish verbs make communication in Spanish more efficient.
As a beginner, another area that confused me was learning how to translate phrases in English that started with the word “get” or in the past “got.” If you look up the word “get” in an English to Spanish dictionary, there isn’t a single word or phrase listed to define it. That’s because it is implied when using reflexive Spanish verbs.

Sentences like: “I get bored in Science class,” can be communicated in Spanish as “Me aburro en la clase de ciencias.” (present tense of aburrirse); or “Did you get sick?” translates into one single reflexive verb phrase, “Te enfermaste?” (preterit of enfermarse).

Reflexive Spanish verbs make it easier to learn how to use object pronouns.
As a beginner, I was so frustrated with verb conjugation in Spanish that when it came to object pronouns I tried not to use them at all. I thought it would be okay to just name the objects of the action instead of replacing them with a pronoun. It worked for a while, but as my verb conjugation skills improved, it became obvious that I needed to learn how to use object pronouns.

Reflexive Spanish verbs are the perfect introduction to learning how to use the other object pronouns, direct and indirect. When you understand the difference between the subject of the action and the object of the action, you can apply the concept to using reflexive pronouns, direct object pronouns, and indirect object pronouns in Spanish.

The following excerpt from The Spanish Verb Conjugator provides an outline to the basics of learning how to use Reflexive Spanish Verbs.

Whether the verb ending is “ar,” “er,” or “ir,” the infinitive reflexive verb will end in “se.” For example, “bañarse,” “caerse,” or “divertirse.” Reflexive verbs can be regular or irregular. In addition to the verb conjugation, a reflexive pronoun will precede the verb and reflect the subject of the conjugated verb. The “se” at the end of the infinitive verb is not retained when the verb is conjugated.

For example, “bañarse” (to bathe oneself) a regular -ar reflexive verb in the present tense:

“bañ” is the stem; “ar” is the ending; “se” is the infinitive reflexive pronoun    
        me    baño           I bathe myself
        te      bañas         you (inf.) bathe yourself
        se     baña           he bathes himself, she bathes herself, you (f.) bathe yourself
        se     bañan         they bathe themselves, you all (f. & inf.) bathe yourselves
        nos   bañamos    we bathe ourselves
        os     bañáis        you all (inf.) bathe yourselves

Reflexive verbs are used most frequently in the following ways:
a.)    Some verbs can be used reflexively to convey “myself,” “yourself,” “himself,” “itself,” etc.
        when the subject and the object of the action are the same person(s) or thing(s). For
        example, “I look at myself in the mirror.” (Me miro en el espejo.)

b.)    Verbs in English that imply “get” / “got” or “become” / “became” are used reflexively in
        Spanish. For example, “I get tired” (Me canso); “I got bored” (Me aburrí).

c.)    To communicate “each other” or “one another,” reflexive verbs are used: “We speak to
        each other every day.” (Nos hablamos todos los días.)
        
d.)    Reflexive verbs in the third person (se) are used for the passive or impersonal voice. For example:
        “They say that/It is said that...” (Se dice que...) or “How does one say...?” (¿Cómo se dice...?);
        Spanish is spoken here.” (Se habla español)

In the next blog post I will highlight the reflexive Spanish verb “irse” (to leave) as an excellent example of a mainstream irregular reflexive Spanish verb. I will compare it to its counterpart: the non-reflexive and super common Spanish verb, "ir" (to go). Until then...hasta luego.