Reflexive Verbs Continued
We are into our second month of learning about Reflexive Verbs in Spanish and have got as far as looking at one example – namely ‘me lavo’ (‘I wash myself’, or as is more usual in English ‘I have a wash’). We have seen that the subject ‘yo’ has been omitted and that the object ‘me’ means ‘myself’ and goes in front of the verb. This was more fully explained in last month’s article.
Sticking to the washing theme for a moment, most of us these days stretch to having a shower and again in Spanish this is expressed as a reflexive verb. The verb ‘to shower’ is ‘duchar’ and can be used in the standard way as ‘Ducho a los niños’ (‘I shower the children’). However, it is more often used reflexively – ‘Me ducho por la mañana’ (‘I shower myself in the morning’, or ‘I have a shower in the morning’.) Remember that ‘me’ means ‘myself’ and is the object of the verb. In a fuller form it is ‘Yo me ducho’.
If you think about it, most of the things we do in the morning we do to ourselves before we face the general public, and so ‘I get up’ also uses a Reflexive Verb. This is how it works:
The verb is ‘levantar’ which means ‘to raise’ or ‘to lift’. If you take a moment to look in the dictionary, you will find that ‘levantar’ is listed, followed by ‘levantarse’, which translates as ‘to get up’. The literal meaning is ‘to lift oneself up’ as the ‘se’ part tacked on the end is the Reflexive Particle ‘oneself’.
Once the verb conjugates, that is changes according to different subjects, then that ‘se’ (or equivalent) pops in front of the verb, like this:
‘Yo me levanto’ or ‘Me levanto’ (‘I get up’, or literally ‘I lift myself up’).
I hope this is making some sense! Now we can put together a whole sentence ‘Normalmente me levanto a las siete, pero a veces me levanto a las diez.’ (‘I usually get up at seven o’clock, but sometimes I get up at ten’).
So far we have only looked at the ‘I’ form; that is the ‘first person’ form, but of course we also need to be able to say ‘yourself’, ‘himself’ etc. We will stick to the verb ‘levantarse’ and see how it changes.
Me levanto – Nos levantamos
Te levantas – Os levantáis
Se levanta – Se levantan
All of those little words are Reflexive Pronouns, so translate literally like this:
‘me’ – myself, ‘te’ – yourself, ‘se’ – himself, herself, yourself (formal) oneself, ‘nos’ – ourselves, ‘os’ – yourselves and ‘se’ – themselves, yourselves (formal).
For some reason whenever I teach this in a class, a few people tell me that they have never heard of the word ‘os’ before, almost as though they think I might be making it up! I can assure everyone that ‘os’ is a perfectly common and correct Spanish word and it means ‘yourselves’ in the familiar plural form.
If I was talking to a couple I might ask: ‘¿A qué hora os levantáis?’ to which they might reply ‘Nos levantamos a las 8’, or perhaps ‘Mind your own business what’s it got to do with you?!’
See you next month for more reflections on Reflexives.
Jane Cronin’s ‘Step by Step Spanish’ articles are available as e-books at www.janecronin.eu where you can also obtain Jane’s ‘Step by Step Internet Spanish Course’.