Properly Placing Spanish Reflexive Pronouns
Reflexive pronouns are used in conjunction with reflexive verbs to express that an action is performed by a subject on itself. In order for a reflexive pronoun to make sense, you have to know how to place it properly within a sentence. (But first, make sure you’re familiar with the pronouns themselves. Reflexive pronouns are exactly the same as direct and indirect object pronouns except for the third-person singular and plural [se; seh] forms.) Read on for the rules of reflexive pronoun placement in Spanish.
1Reflexive pronouns normally go before the conjugated verb.
For example, me goes before aplico in the sentence Me aplico en la clase de español (I apply myself in Spanish class).
2You can choose where to place the reflexive pronoun in certain situations.
In sentences with two verbs that follow one subject or in sentences with a gerund, you can place the reflexive pronoun either before the conjugated verb or after it, attached to the infinitive or gerund.
You must add an accent on the stressed vowel when you attach the pronoun to a gerund. To place the accent correctly, count back three vowels and add it, as in the sentence Ella está peinándose (She is combing her hair).
3A negative goes before the pronoun when it precedes the verb.
In the sentence No me voy a maquillar (I’m not going to put on my make-up), you’ll notice that no goes before me, because me is in front of voy.