Dormir vs Dormirse (pronominal verbs)

In Spanish there is a difference between the verb dormir or dormirse. 

Dormir refers to "to sleep" while "dormirse" as a pronominal verb refers to the action of "going to sleep/falling asleep".

Let's see some examples to compare the difference:

Anoche dormí diez horas. Estaba muy cansada.Last night I slept ten hours. I was very tired.

A veces tengo que dormir en el sofá cuando mi mujer se enfada conmigo.Sometimes I have to sleep on the sofa when my wife gets cross with me.

El bebé se durmió enseguida. The baby went to/fell asleep straight away.

Mamá, no me puedo dormir. Mi hermano no deja de hacer ruido.Mum, I can't fall asleep. My brother won't stop making noises.

Notice how the first two sentences using "dormir" are referring to the ongoing action of sleeping, whilst the last two are referring to the sudden action of going to sleep/falling asleep.

Special note:

The equivalent to dormirse is "quedarse dormido-/a". For example:

Ella se durmió de repente.
Ella se quedó dormida de repente.
She suddenly fell asleep.

We never use verb "to fall" (caer) to express "falling asleep":

Ella se cayó dormida.

 

Learn more about these related Spanish grammar topics

Examples and resources

El bebé se durmió enseguida. The baby went to/fell asleep straight away.
A veces tengo que dormir en el sofá cuando mi mujer se enfada conmigo.Sometimes I have to sleep on the sofa when my wife gets cross with me.
Anoche dormí diez horas. Estaba muy cansada.Last night I slept ten hours. I was very tired.
Mamá, no me puedo dormir. Mi hermano no deja de hacer ruido.Mum, I can't fall asleep. My brother won't stop making noises.

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