Reciprocal verbs in Spanish and position of the reflexive pronoun

Reciprocal verbs, i.e those that express an action that two or more people perform to each other, contain a reflexive pronoun (only the plural forms).

Have a look at the following examples:

Nosotros nos abrazamos mucho.
We hug each other a lot.

¿Tú y Marta os conocéis?
Do you an Marta know each other?

Los vecinos se ayudaban cuando podían.
The neighbours helped each other when they could.

Ustedes se comunican por email, ¿verdad?
You communicate with each other via email, don't you?

You will always find these plural reflexive pronouns with reciprocal verbs: nos, os, se

Reciprocal verbs work in the same way other reflexive verbs do in terms of the position of the pronouns with conjugated verbs, infinitives, gerunds and imperatives. 

With an infinitive or a gerund the pronoun can be placed:

1. Right after and attached to it 

Podemos escribirnos mientras estás en Alemania.
We can write to each other while you are in Germany.

¿Están ustedes entendiéndose?
Are you understanding each other?

2. In front of the whole verbal structure, not in the middle

¿Se están ustedes entendiendo?
Are you getting along (with each other)?

¿Están se ustedes entendiendo? 

Nos podemos escribir mientras estás en Alemania.
We can write to each other while you are in Germany.

Podemos nos escribir mientras estás en Alemania.

 With an imperative it can only be placed right after it and attached

¡Casaos en la catedral!
Marry each other in the cathedral!

We sometimes reinforce the reciprocity adding "el uno al otro" or "mutuamente" to the sentence. For example:

Julián y Alberto se respetan. 

Julián y Alberto se respetan el uno al otro.

Julián y Alberto se respetan mutuamente.

Julian and Alberto respect each other.

See also Conjugate in El Imperativo with reflexive pronouns (affirmative commands) and Conjugate reflexive verbs in El Presente (present tense).

 

Learn more about these related Spanish grammar topics

Examples and resources

¿Se están ustedes entendiendo?
Are you getting along (with each other)?


Los vecinos se ayudaban cuando podían.
The neighbours helped each other when they could.


Nosotros nos abrazamos mucho.
We hug each other a lot.


¡Casaos en la catedral!
Marry each other in the cathedral!


Podemos escribirnos mientras estás en Alemania.
We can write to each other while you are in Germany.


¿Tú y Marta os conocéis?
Do you an Marta know each other?


Nos podemos escribir mientras estás en Alemania.
We can write to each other while you are in Germany.


Ustedes se comunican por email, ¿verdad?
You communicate with each other via email, don't you?


¿Están ustedes entendiéndose?
Are you understanding each other?


Q&A

Catriona

Kwiziq community member

22 January 2018

1 reply

Placement of pronouns

I'm getting confused. This lesson tells us pronouns can go before the conjugated verb or after the verb, attached to it, except with imperatives it must be the latter. I seem to remember a situation in which they must go before the verb but can't remember what it is.

Inma

Kwiziq language super star

22 January 2018

22/01/18

Hi Catriona
The position of pronouns varies in Spanish depending on which verbal structure is used. With a conjugated verb the pronouns is placed in front of it and separate, e.g "Ayer te compré un regalo" (Yesterday I bought you a present) But with an imperative it always goes at the end and attached, e.g "Ábrelo" (open it!). This is only for the affirmative commands; if it is a negative command then it is placed in front as other conjugated verbs, e.g "No lo abras" (Don't open it). In the case of gerunds and infinitives they can be placed in front or at the end:
"Quiero comprarlo hoy"= "Lo quiero comprar hoy" or "Estoy comprándolo" = Lo estoy comprando".
Have a look at these different lessons for more details:

https://spanish.kwiziq.com/revision/grammar/position-of-direct-and-indirect-object-pronouns-with-infinitivegerund-and-affirmative-commands

https://spanish.kwiziq.com/revision/grammar/position-of-pronouns-with-conjugated-verbs

I hope this helped,
Inma



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