Reflexive Verbs in Portuguese

Verbos Reflexivos en Portugués. Luana: Vocês se lembram do que eu falei?

When do we use Reflexive Verbs in Portuguese?

Rio de Janeiro is an awfully big city — there’s no denying it. And even cariocas can get lost around here. Someone from Barra da Tijuca will certainly get confused with the small crowded streets of Copacabana. But why are we talking about getting lost and confused right now? Well, it’s because those expressions would need reflexive verbs in Portuguese! And, of course, they’d need Portuguese reflexive pronouns, too! Curious? Check it out!

What is a Reflexive Verb?

Reflexive verbs are used to express actions that are performed by the same person that is affected by them. To put it simply, if you wash yourself, or your sister teaches herself math, then those are examples of reflexive verbs! And, as you may have guessed, we need a helping hand when we decide to use reflexive verbs in Portuguese:

Reflexive Verbs in Portuguese and Portuguese Reflexive Pronouns. Sentence structure and example: Eu não me sinto muito bem.

See that beautiful blue word right there? We call those reflexive pronouns. And thankfully, there aren’t nearly as many reflexive pronouns in Portuguese as there are in English. These are the main reflexive pronouns in Portuguese:

me myself
se (singular) yourself / himself / herself
nos ourselves / each other
se (plural) yourselves / themselves / each other

You can read some more about reflexive pronouns in Portuguese and practice with some exercises here in this Dica.

How Do We Use These Verbs?

So you’ve already seen one example in the image above. But that’s nowhere near being enough! What’s the magic behind it all? Don’t worry, there are no hidden tricks, nor trap doors, nor anything to scare you away from learning Portuguese. Reflexive verbs in Portuguese are conjugated just like any other verb. You simply need to remember to add a reflexive pronoun.

Ela se olha no espelho.
She looks at herself in the mirror.

Eu sempre me visto bem para o trabalho.
I always dress myself well to go to work.

Nós nos molhamos com a mangueira porque faz muito calor.
We got ourselves wet with the hose because it is too hot.

Where do We Put the Reflexive Pronouns in Portuguese?

Here’s a hot topic: the position of the reflexive pronouns in Portuguese! How complicated can it be, right? Well, surprise surprise – people don’t speak the way they write nor write the way they speak. And that’s especially true for Brazilians – who speak as if grammar was but another fairy tale.

Take a look at those examples above again. What do you see? The reflexive pronouns were put before the verb. That’s the way it usually goes in Brazil. The issue only appears when writing – it is considered more proper (formal or polite) to put the reflexive pronouns after the reflexive verbs in Portuguese. And in order to do that we need to remember one thing: the hyphen.

Ela olha-se no espelho.
She looks at herself in the mirror.

Eu sempre visto-me bem para o trabalho.
I always dress myself well to go to work.

Nós molhamo-nos com a mangueira porque faz muito calor.
We got ourselves wet with the hose because it is too hot.

Another thing you may have noticed is that last example there. No, it’s not a type nor a spelling mistake – we really don’t write that last s for the first person plural when we use the reflexive pronoun after the reflexive verb in Portuguese. So keep that in mind!

How Common are Reflexive Verbs in Portuguese?

Something that is important for you to know is that a lot of verbs that aren’t reflexive in English are reflexive in Portuguese. So don’t think you got it all down! Remember when I mentioned that getting lost and confused actually needed reflexive verbs in Portuguese?

Eu sempre me perco no Rio de Janeiro.
I always get lost in Rio de Janeiro.

Vocês se confundiram e acabaram na rua errada.
You got confused and ended up in the wrong street.

Ela se casou com ele no verão passado.
She married him last summer.

Nós nos sentimos muito felizes por você.
We feel very happy for you.

Eles se arrumam para sair para o bloco das piranhas.
They get ready to go out to bloco das piranhas.

Reflexive or Not?

Brazilians never make up their minds! It’s awful! Just to make things more confusing, they love making verbs reflexive even when it’s not necessary. So depending on who’s speaking, you’ll hear the same sentence with and without reflexive pronouns in Portuguese.

Ela se esqueceu de lavar a louça.
Ela esqueceu de lavar a louça.
She forgot to wash the dishes.

Eu nunca me lembro do seu aniversário.
Eu nunca lembro do seu aniversário.
I never remember your birthday.

Eles preferem se sentar em cadeiras altas.
Eles preferem sentar em cadeiras altas.
They prefer to sit on tall chairs.

Nós nos levantamos cedo para ir para a praia.
Nós levantamos cedo para ir para a praia.
We get up early to go to the beach.

List of Common Reflexive Verbs in Portuguese

cortar-se to cut oneself
machucar-se to hurt oneself
pentear-se to brush your own hair
maquiar-se to put make up on yourself
intrometer-se to intrude
preocupar-se to worry
divertir-se to have fun
mudar-se to move (to a new house, country, etc.)
dedicar-se to dedicate

You can watch this video made by some of our Portuguese teachers to review and listen to some examples:

That’s all for today, everyone!
See you on the next Dica!

Ler esta Dica em Português          Leer esta Dica en Español
Click on the links below to see more related Dicas
Reflexive Pronouns in Portuguese 

Portuguese Pronouns
Portuguese Regular Verbs

This post is also available in: English Português (Portuguese) Español (Spanish)

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