Practice Makes Perfect: Spanish Pronouns and Prepositions, Premium 3rd Edition (2016)

Part I. PRONOUNS

Chapter 11. Reflexive object pronouns

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Reflexive pronouns are tiny words that carry the power to change the meaning of a sentence.

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The principal function of a reflexive object pronoun is to indicate that the action being performed stays with the one who performs it. If Jane washes your hair, her action has extended to you; thus, that action is not reflexive. However, when Jane washes her own hair, the action begun by Jane stays with Jane. In this case, the verb lavarse, meaning “to wash,” is reflexive, and it requires a reflexive object pronoun.

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Reflexive verbs in daily routines

Many of the frequently used reflexive verbs refer to the things we do routinely to prepare ourselves for the day. Below are several of the more common reflexive verbs in this category.

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Note that when a body part is mentioned, the definite article (ellaloslas) is used to modify it rather than the possessive adjective (mitusu, etc.). There are two reasons for this: (1) If you are washing the hair on you, it has to be your hair, so it is redundant to use the possessive adjective, and (2) many native Spanish speakers consider it in poor taste to mention body parts in a direct way.

In English, we generally reserve the use of the reflexive pronouns (“myself,” “yourself,” etc.) for what can be called “full-body experiences”—that is, “I love myself,” “she sees herself in the full-length mirror,” “they don’t understand themselves.” In Spanish, the use is much narrower: Reflexive pronouns are used in situations that deal with a single aspect of our selves—for example, teeth, hair, or hands. It is a given that most of us wash our own hair (as opposed to a hair stylist washing our hair), and most of us dress ourselves and brush our own teeth, and in English we don’t use the reflexive forms to express these actions. However, when an action doesn’t leave the performer, in Spanish it is expressed with a reflexive verb and reflexive object pronouns.

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Traducción

  1I take a shower.

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  2I take a bath.

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  3You [sing., informal] take a shower every day.

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  4He shaves every morning.

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  5She brushes her teeth three times a day.

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  6We brush our teeth.

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  7They shave twice a day.

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  8He washes his hair.

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  9I wash my face.

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10You [sing., informal] dry your hair.

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11You [sing., formal] dry yourself with a towel (la toalla).

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12I comb my hair often (a menudo).

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13She almost never (casi nunca) combs her hair.

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14I weigh myself on the bathroom scale (la báscula de baño).

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15She weighs herself twice a day.

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What makes a verb reflexive?

It is important to note that nearly all verbs can be made reflexive. There is nothing magical about a reflexive verb. All it means is that the action is not leaving the performer. You can wash your car (not reflexive) or you can wash your face (reflexive); you can put your child to bed (not reflexive) or you can go to bed yourself / put yourself to bed (reflexive).

Because most verbs can be made reflexive, it is impossible to list all or even most of them here. Following are several verbs that are frequently used in the reflexive form because of the nature of the action they represent.

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When an item of clothing is mentioned with a reflexive verb, as in the sentence Elisabeth se pone los zapatos (“Elisabeth puts on her shoes”), the definite article is used to modify the noun naming the item of clothing. The reason is the same as when parts of the body are mentioned: Because one can assume that a person is putting on his or her own clothes, it would be redundant to use a possessive pronoun.

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¿Verdadero o falso?

_______   1. Me enojo mucho con personas que no toman la responsabilidad por sus acciones.

_______   2. Cuando viajo a otra ciudad, siempre me quedo en un hotel de cuatro estrellas.

_______   3. Me levanto para cenar y me siento para caminar.

_______   4. Si veo sangre (blood), me pongo enfermo/enferma y después me desmayo.

_______   5. Cuando me enojo con alguien, hablo con esa persona para resolver el problema.

_______   6. Es importante ponerse manoplas (mittens) y una chaqueta de lana (wool) cuando hace mucho frío.

_______   7. Siempre me quito los zapatos antes de entrar en la casa.

_______   8. Muchas personas se ponen muy furiosas cuando conducen en las autopistas.

_______   9. El presidente de la nación se llama Günther.

_______ 10. Cuando una persona se casa con otra persona, esta ceremonia se llama la boda.

_______ 11. Cuando una persona se queda en un hotel de lujo, normalmente se siente muy elegante.

_______ 12. Una persona puede hacerse millonaria si trabaja quince horas al día durante veinte años.

_______ 13. Me siento triste por las personas pobres del mundo.

_______ 14. Me cepillo los dientes cada noche antes de acostarme.

_______ 15. Me levanto a las tres de la mañana.


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Traducción

  1When I try on new clothing, I look at myself in the mirror.

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  2What time (a qué hora) do you [sing., informal] go to bed and what time do you get up?

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  3Normally people get married on (durante) the weekends.

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  4I get sick when I eat food that has a lot of fat (la grasa).

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  5I go (away) to work (al trabajo) every morning at eight o’clock.

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  6I take a shower, I brush my teeth, I dry my hair, I get dressed, and then I go to work.

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  7I become (involuntarily) sick when I see a hair (el pelo) in the food.

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  8Miss America faints when she puts on the crown (la corona).

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  9Every night I get undressed, I put on my pajamas (el pijama), I go to bed, and I fall asleep.

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10When Laura stays in a hotel, she worries about picking up (recoger) bedbugs (las chinches).

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PREPOSITION + INFINITIVE with the reflexive object pronoun

Any verb that immediately follows a preposition must remain in the infinitive. There is no exception to this rule. When the verb is reflexive, the infinitive itself stays untouched, but the reflexive object pronoun changes to agree with the stated or understood subject and is attached to the end of the infinitive. The subject of the reflexive verb usually can be determined from the context of the sentence.

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Complete each sentence with the correct reflexive object pronoun.

  1. Antes de vestir_______, yo plancho (iron) la ropa.

  2. Después de bañar_______, Mariana se acuesta.

  3. Antes de ir_______ al trabajo, leemos el periódico.

  4. Después de levantar_______, hago la cama.

  5. Ellos cenan después de sentar_______.

  6. Dorian Gray grita con horror después de ver_______ en el retrato (portrait).

  7. Después de probar_______ diez vestidos y veinte trajes de baño, Cathy se frustra mucho.

  8. Antes de acostar_______, siempre me cepillo los dientes.

  9. Antes de afeitar_______, preparas la crema de afeitar.

10. Después de vestir_______, salís para el trabajo.

11. Necesito champú para lavar_______el pelo.

12. Ella va a bañar_______ en vez de duchar_______ hoy.


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Traducción

  1After getting dressed, I look at myself in the mirror.

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  2Before going away, we put on our coats (el abrigo), mittens (la manopla), and hats.

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  3After taking a bath, I put on my robe (la bata) and I relax (relajarse).

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  4Instead of (en vez de) taking a shower, I’m going to take a bath tonight.

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  5This soap is the best for (para) washing your [sing., formal] face.

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  6I use this shampoo (el champú) for washing my hair.

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  7When I stay in a hotel, I always request a call (la llamada) to (para) wake me up.

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  8He takes a pill (la pastilla) every night in order to (para) fall asleep.

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  9Some people meditate (meditar) in order to relax.

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10You [pl., informal] need a razor (la navaja) and a blade (la hoja) in order to shave (yourselves).

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Reflexive object pronouns in sentences with two verbs

In a statement or clause that contains two verbs, the first verb is conjugated and the second one remains in the infinitive form. When that second verb is reflexive, the appropriate reflexive object pronoun is attached directly to the infinitive.

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¿Verdadero o falso?

________   1. Esta noche voy a acostarme a las once y media.

________   2. Durante la semana tengo que levantarme antes de las siete de la mañana.

________   3. Debo cepillarme los dientes por lo menos tres veces al día.

________   4. Me gusta quedarme en hoteles cuando visito otras ciudades.

________   5. Prefiero probarme ropa nueva en mi casa y no en el probador (fitting room) de una tienda.

________   6. Me molesta verme cuando me pruebo trajes de baño en el probador.

________   7. Quiero enfermarme mucho este año.

________   8. Quiero casarme con una persona famosa y tener fotos de nuestra boda en las revistas People y ¡Hola!

________   9. Cuando no puedo dormirme, leo un libro o una revista.

________ 10. Si no tengo tiempo para ducharme en la mañana, me siento sucio/sucia e incómodo/incómoda todo el día.

________ 11. No me gusta irme al trabajo sin tomar café primero.

________ 12. Muchas personas quieren hacerse ricas algún día.

________ 13. Una persona tiene que quitarse la ropa antes de bañarse.

________ 14. Muchas personas prefieren quedarse en un hotel económico para ahorrar dinero.

________ 15. Nadie quiere quedarse en un hotel con ratones, ratas, arañas y todo tipo de insectos.


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Traducción

  1For our honeymoon (la luna de miel), we want to stay in an elegant hotel.

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  2Where are you [pl., formal] going to stay in Paris?

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  3I am very warm. I’m going to take off my sweater.

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  4I am very cold. I have to put on my coat.

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  5No one wants to get sick, but unfortunately (desgraciadamente) this happens (ocurrir).

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  6Our dog likes to bathe himself in our neighbor’s swimming pool. Our neighbor gets angry when our dog does this.

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  7If you [sing., informal] want to wash your hair, there is shampoo in the cabinet (el gabinete).

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  8If you [sing., formal] want to shave, the concierge (el conserje) can give you a razor (la navaja) and some blades (la hoja).

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  9If you [pl., formal] want to get well (bien), you have to eat (tomar) this chicken soup (el caldo de pollo).

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10You [sing., informal] are going to get sick if you eat that raw (crudo) meat.

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Traducción

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“He never bathes anymore! It’s absolutely terrible.” My neighbor tells me everything, and today she is complaining about her husband. She is a fastidious woman and complains all the time. She tells me that I should wash my hair more often. I tell her that that is my problem and that she should be quiet. She tells me that she can’t be quiet when no one in her family bathes or showers. She tells me that after going to bed, she can’t fall asleep because she’s worrying about all these people who don’t wash themselves. I tell her that she can buy herself either a can of Febreze or a hose.

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