A Clear Guide to Reflexive and Transitive Verbs

Reflexive verbs vs. transitive verbs — How are they different?…

Reflexive verbs vs. transitive verbs — How are they different? This article aims to explore the difference between the two. With so many grammar rules in the English language, even natives sometimes find it challenging when and how to use some specific terms.

Here’s a quick guide to enhancing your understanding of reflexive and transitive verbs in English.

Types of Verbs in English

In English, verbs can be either transitive or intransitive. By definition, transitive verbs add or call for an object afterward, but intransitive verbs can stand alone in a sentence.

Examples of Intransitive Verb:

  • I am sitting on a bench. Or I’m sitting. 
  • She is dancing on the stage. Or She is dancing.
  • He is sleeping on the bed. Or He is sleeping.

Examples of Transitive Verbs:

  • Jessy held her mother’s hand firmly.
  • We bought a new car today.
  • She was listening to music.

What Is a Reflexive Verb?

A Reflexive verb takes its subjects as its direct objects. It means that the same thing or person performs and receives the action of the verb. Reflexive verbs are frequently referred to as the “middle voice” when compared to the active or passive voice.

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Reflexive Verbs vs. Transitive Verb

Reflexive verbs are a special class of verbs in English because they don’t have their own distinct word or conjugation pattern. To identify a reflexive verb, you need to consider other words within a sentence. Reflexive verbs cause the subject itself to undergo the action of the verb.

Example: He hurt himself when he fell off the bike.

transitive verb always requires an object to receive the action of the verb. Transitive verbs must have a complement or an object immediately following them to make the sentence meaningful.

Example: The teacher addressed all the students’ questions.

Identifying Types of Reflexive Verbs in a Sentence

There are different types of reflexive verbs used in a sentence. Here are some examples for a better understanding.

Verbs With Reflexive Pronouns

It is easiest to spot reflexive verbs when reflexive pronouns are employed as the direct object and refer back to the sentence’s subject.


  • She intentionally hurt herself to gain people’s sympathy. (Herself refers back to the subject, Her)
  • I washed the dishes myself before going to work. (Myself refers back to the subject, I)
  • He baked a cake himself for the guests. (Himself refers back to the subject, He)

Implied Objects with Reflexive Verbs

There are some reflexive verbs that can also include reflexive pronouns as implied direct objects, which are thus left out of the sentence.


  • I always stretch before doing my daily exercise. (reflexive pronoun myself is implied.)
  • My brother is shaving in the washroom. (reflexive pronoun himself is implied.)
  • Jenny cleaned the dishes before going to school. (reflexive pronoun herself is implied.)

Intransitive Verbs in the “middle” Voice

Most reflexive verbs are transitive, with reflexive pronouns as their direct object. However, some intransitive verbs can also modify a subject that receives the action. This kind of verb does not take a reflexive pronoun or direct object in the middle voice.


  • The souvenir on the table broke in half. (Break is an intransitive verb that denotes what was broken.)
  • The cat disappeared in the dark. (Disappear is an intransitive verb that denotes what has disappeared.)
  • Laura collapsed when she heard of her brother’s accident. (Collapse is an intransitive verb that denotes who collapsed.)


To improve your language comprehension, writing, and speaking skills, it is vital to gain a deeper understanding of English grammar. Reflexive verbs should not be confused with transitive verbs as there is a slight but important difference in their usage.

This article about reflexive verbs vs. transitive verbs will help you learn the difference and how to use them in a sentence correctly.

Frequently asked questions

What are the 4 steps to conjugate a reflexive verb?

  • First. *Index + se * at the end*.
  • second. To determine the type of verb (ar, er, ir), remove’se’.
  • third. Use the correct verb ending for the type of verb and by the person completing the action.
  • fourth
  • fifth

What is an example of a reflexive verb?

Reflexive verbs refer to a transitive verb whose object and subject always refer to the same person or object. Thus, the object is always a reflexive pronoun. In a typical example, you may ask, “Did you enjoy yourself?”.

What’s the point of reflexive verbs?

Simpler say, reflexive verbs are used when both subject and object are the same. In essence, a person acts on behalf of another. Reflexive verbs cansarse, ducharse, despertarse and vestirse are examples.

What are 5 reflexive verbs in Spanish?

  • Olvidarse (to forget)
  • I’d like to take note of “Fijarse”.
  • Preocuparse (to worry)
  • Acordarse (to remember)
  • Irse (to leave)
  • Find oneself and Convert.
  • To give oneself
  • Sentirse (to feel)

How do you teach Spanish reflexive verbs?

Are reflexive verbs transitive?

Referring to a person or thing as a reflexive verb, the object is always a subject of the transitive verb. Take a simple example: ‘you enjoyed yourself’, as in ‘Did you enjoy yourself?’ shirt or trousers?

What is the difference between a transitive verb and a reflexive verb?

Reflexive verbs cause the subject to undergo action through the verb. He fell off the bike and injured himself. It is always necessary for an object to receive the action of a transitive verb. To make transitive verbs meaningful, they must have a complement or an object immediately following them.

What does reflexive mean in grammar?

A reflexive verb is loosely defined as a verb that has the same object as its subject. For example, “I wash myself”. As a general rule, a reflexive verb has the same semantic agent as a patient (typically represented syntactically by the subject and the direct object).

How do you use reflexive verbs?

How do you conjugate a reflexive verb?

Reflexive verbs are always conjugated with the reflexive pronoun that agrees with the subject: me (myself), you (yourself), yourself (himself, herself, themselves), us (ourselves),. A pronoun usually precedes a verb.

Can every verb be reflexive?

I don’t understand what you mean by “emphasis”, but yes, not all verbs are able to be reflexive. For instance, intransitive verbs like ormar, arriver, orrionfler..

What are three steps to conjugate a reflexive verb?

  • Take the non-reflexive verb one step at a time based on the subject pronoun.
  • Give the appropriate reflexive pronoun.
  • Include a reflexive pronoun before or after the conjugated verb (depending on the verb’s tense).

How do you identify a reflexive verb?

You can identify reflexive verbs by paying attention to their endings, which always include the reflexive pronoun “se” at the end (for example: Copernicus – to know each other).

What transitive verb means?

Transitive Verbs. In transitive verbs, an object must receive a response.

What are 10 reflexive verbs?

  • Become (be) happy with alegrarsen.
  • The word acostumbrarse – to become accustomed (to be used).
  • Afeitarse means to shave.
  • Accorder de – to remember.
  • Accercerse, or close
  • Borrise – to become bored.
  • Assisting others – to become interested.
  • Bedtime – acostarse
A Clear Guide to Reflexive and Transitive Verbs

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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