ime, but it’s worth it in the long run. We are still only laying the foundations in as much as we are looking at how they work in the present simple tense and we are looking at examples that are fairly easy to understand as they describe physical actions.
We have talked about waking up, getting up and showering, so I suppose before we go any further, we should look at getting dressed, otherwise we’ll be feeling chilly.
Following the same process of reasoning as before – we first need the verb ‘to dress’ which is ‘vestir’. We don’t always dress ourselves; we might want to dress a child, a doll, an invalid etc, in which case we would use this verb in its Non-Reflexive form.
La niña viste su muñeca.
The girl dresses her doll.
‘Vestir’, as you will have noticed from that example, is a root-changing verb. It is an ‘E to I’ verb, so this is how it conjugates in the present tense:
Most of us, most of the time, dress ourselves, so to express this in Spanish we need the Reflexive form ‘vestirse’ (to dress oneself, i.e. to get dressed). Therefore:
Me visto por la mañana.
I get dressed in the morning. (I dress myself in the morning).
The whole conjugation goes:
We could go on repeating similar examples, but we have looked at four now and hopefully the penny is beginning to drop! Now to move the subject on one stage further, what we have to realize is that Reflexive Verbs are often used to express ideas that are less easy to visualize. Let’s take the most common one of all as an illustration. You will have heard examples of this many times – it is the verb ‘irse’ which means ‘to go away’. I like to think of it as meaning: ‘to take oneself away’. Although we never really say this in English, it helps me to capture the meaning and work out when to use it.
This is how it goes in Spanish:
I can say:
Voy a la playa los domingos.
I go to the beach on Sundays.
Adiós, me voy.
Goodbye, I’m off, (I’m going away), using the reflexive form.
However, it is also possible to say:
Me voy a la playa.
I’m off to the beach.
In this case the Reflexive Pronoun doesn’t alter the essential meaning at all; rather it makes the whole sentence more emphatic and more focused on the action of going.
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’.