Sentir vs Sentirse (to feel)

In Spanish we use the verb sentir to express "to feel" but there are two forms: sentir or sentirse

1. Sentir 

We use sentir to say that you feel "something". In this case you will generally find a noun after the verb, acting as a direct object. 

Cada vez que veo esa película siento escalofríos.
Every time I see that movie it gives me the shivers. (lit: I feel the shivers)

Ella siente pena por la gente pobre.
She feels sorry for poor people. (lit: feels pity)

Sometimes, that noun can be accompanied by other words like articles and adjectives:

Sentimos mucha alegría cuando la vemos.
We feel very happy when we see her. (feel lots of joy)

Siento una gran necesidad de abrazarte.
I feel I really need to hug you. (lit: feel a great necessity)

And sentir can also be followed by a subordinate clause with "que":

Siento que mi marido y yo nos alejamos.
I feel that my husband and I are drifting apart.

2. Sentirse

When we use sentir with reflexive pronouns (me, te, se, nos, os, se), we are talking about "how" we feel, not what we feel. 

It can be followed by an adjective, which must agree like all adjectives with the subject.

Me siento emocionada por la generosidad de la gente.
I feel emotional because of people's generosity.

Rafael se siente mareado. ¡Trae un vaso de agua!
Rafael is feeling dizzy. Bring a glass of water!

You can also see an adverb after sentirse:

 

Mis padres se sienten estupendamente en su nueva casa.
My parents feel great in their new house.

And you can see "como" (like) after the verb:

Nos sentimos como dos idiotas después de la estafa.
We feel like two idiots after the scam.

In Spanish:

Sentir = to say "what" you feel.
Siento mucha emoción.
I feel a lot of emotion. (noun)

Sentirse = to say "how" you feel.
Me siento emocionada.
I feel emotional. (adjective)

Also:

-¿Qué sientes? -Siento calor.
-What do you feel? -I feel heat. (noun)

But:

-¿Cómo te sientes? -Me siento acalorada.
-How do you feel? -I feel hot. (adjective)

Remember that sentir is a stem-changing verb in El Presente

 

Examples and resources

Cada vez que veo esa película siento escalofríos.
Every time I see that movie it gives me the shivers. (lit: I feel the shivers)


Siento que mi marido y yo nos alejamos.
I feel that my husband and I are drifting apart.


Mis padres se sienten estupendamente en su nueva casa.
My parents feel great in their new house.


Me siento emocionada por la generosidad de la gente.
I feel emotional because of people's generosity.


Ella siente pena por la gente pobre.
She feels sorry for poor people. (lit: feels pity)


Sentimos mucha alegría cuando la vemos.
We feel very happy when we see her. (feel lots of joy)


Nos sentimos como dos idiotas después de la estafa.
We feel like two idiots after the scam.


Rafael se siente mareado. ¡Trae un vaso de agua!
Rafael is feeling dizzy. Bring a glass of water!


Siento una gran necesidad de abrazarte.
I feel I really need to hug you. (lit: feel a great necessity)


Q&A

Brett

Kwiziq community member

22 August 2018

1 reply

I'm really struggling with the distinction. In English, I often don't think that I make much of a distinction between "what" and "how" I feel.

For example, "What do you feel for that guy?" and "How do you feel about that guy?" are asking exactly the same thing. How would these two phrases translate (be worded) diffierently in Spanish?

Silvia

Kwiziq language super star

22 August 2018

22/08/18

¡Hola Brett! We can see that it can be difficult to distinguish the nuance between these two expressions. In Spanish, the first question of "WHAT do you feel for that guy?" could be translated into "¿QUÉ sientes por ese chico?" and the answers could be "siento amor, odio, etc. por él", and the second one of "HOW do you feel about that guy?" could be translated into "¿CÓMO te sientes con respecto a (regarding) ese chico?" and you could answer "Me siento bien, nerviosa, mal, etc." As you can see, we use nouns to reply to the first question, while we use adjectives or adverbs in the second one.

I hope that this helps.

Gracias, Silvia.

William

Kwiziq community member

21 August 2018

1 reply

Sentirse or sentir

The question is:

Qué ________ por ese chico?What do you feel for that guy?

The answer given was sientes. However for me a possible answer to the question could be "I feel happy for him" which translates (hopefully) into Me siento feliz para él. So should the answer to your question not the reflexive "te sientes"

Silvia

Kwiziq language super star

22 August 2018

22/08/18

¡Hola William! As the lesson says, "sentir" is translated as "to feel something", while "sentirse" refers to "HOW do you feel about something" and not "WHAT do you feel", therefore in your question the only possibility is "sientes" because the question is "WHAT do you feel for that guy?".

I hope that it is clearer now.

Gracias, Silvia.

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