Classification uses the pronoun SE

Spanish “Se”

1. Classification uses the pronoun SE1.Usos reflexivos (Reflexive uses)

For example “Se peinó a toda prisa”. This group includes as a subgroup of verbs called «de acción delegada»  (action delegated ). An example of this subgroup is “Tiene que ponerse una vacuna ”

Click on this link for Excercises to practise this use of Spanish “se”

2. Usos recíprocos (uses reciprocal).

In Spanish (like in English happens as well) we try to be efficient as we speak, so for example instead of saying

Ella lo saludó al entrar. El la saludo al entrar.

It is obviously more efficient “Se saludaron al entrar”

3. Verbos pronominales (pronominal verbs) that always appears with a reflexive pronoun, with attention  to the prepositional system

A pronominal verb is a type of verb that requires a pronoun in a sentence to perform even without meaning full reflective

For example:

Let’s see an example:  “Te arrepentirás de esto, No se atrevió a decir nada”

4. SE modificador léxico (SE modifier lexicon )

This is called lexicon modifier or (modificador lexico) becasue adding or not the “se” actually changes the meaning of the verb.

Let’s see an example:

Acorde encontrarme con un amigo en un club muy famoso. (I scheduled to meet with my friend)

But if I say,

No se acordaba de nada means he didn’t remember anything, which it changes the meaning of acordar, and the verb would be acordarse.

5. SE aspectual:

  • incoativo.

Inoactivo means... It applies to the verb or locución (phrase)  which indicates the beginning of a thing or action verb sprogressing as “el amanecer” (dawn) and “florecer” (bloom)  are inchoate, in the sentence “she broke into tears” it doesn’t mean literately that she broke, but she burst into tears well the same happens in Spanish “se “largo a llorar”, largo means se left, but literaly  she didn’t left she juat started crying. These kind of phrase is called “locución”

Se durmió a las seis

  • Terminativo

This type of verb is the opposite of the inoactive verb, which indicates the termination of a verb.

Se comieron un cordero

6. Se impersonal

Well, in this type the name already screams the definition, it is when the se is used to state a clause impersonal.

Example  :

Aquí se está muy bien

Se siente muy bien estar en casa

7. Passive voice, Voz pasiva, asociada a la impersonalidad (associated with impersonal clauses)


In this very interesting source Teachme 123 marks the difference between the “Se impersonal” and “Se passive voice”

Of course, the pronoun “se” has many uses in Spanish, like we are seeing in this article. In this case I want to distinguish the difference between impersonal “se” and the passive “se”.

The impersonal “se” is used with a third person singular verb to express the impersonal English subjects, one, you, people, or they.

Let’s see some examples from the website

  • ¿Se puede nadar en el lago?
    Can you swim in the lake? / Can one swim in the lake?
  • Se dice que hay brujos que viven en la sierra.
    They say there are witches that live in the mountains.
  • Se come muy bien en México.
    One eats very well in Mexico. (You are fed good food in Mexico).

The passive “se” is very similar to the impersonal “se”, therefore I would like to make a distinction base on 123 teach me source.  In the passive “se” the agent of the action is either unknown or unimportant and the influence is placed on the action and not the doer/actor.

Let’s see examples:

  • En Coyotepec se hace el barro negro.
    Black clay is made in Coyotepec.
  • No se habla español en ese pueblo.
    Spanish isn’t spoken in that town.
  • Se gasta mucho dinero en el mercado.
    A lot of money is spent in the market.


8. «Expresiones de involuntariedad» (Expressions of involuntariness)

As the title says they are situations that happen but you didn’t mean them to happen:

Let’s see this example

Se me cayó mi celular al piso

You didn’t mean to throw your cell phone to the floor, but sometimes it happens.

Let’s see other example:

Se me fue el tren.

You didn’t want to arrive late at work, but the train left and you will have to take the next one.

9. Verbos de cambio y proceso

(Verbs of change and process)

a. Con sujeto referido a seres del mundo material (With reference to subject material beings in the world)

This kind of verbs express a change of state of  a material thing or not a living thing.

For example:

El pan se ha secado. (The bread has dryed)

It changed stated from fresh to dry.

La fruta se pudrió.  (The fruit is rotten.)

b. Con sujetos referidos a seres animados (y, especialmente,humanos).

b1. Verbos de afección

b2. Verbos de estado físico

b1. Verbos de afección (Verbs of affection)

Verbs that show emotion or affection:

Se emocionó en el escenario (She was touched by the moment on the stage )

Se enojó  con su padre  (She got mad with her father)

Se enamoró de me (He fell in love with me)

Se entusiasmó con la noticia. (He got excited about the news.)

b2. Verbos de estado físico

Again like the title mentions it is about the change but of a physical state in a person, could be sickness, pain, etc.

Se resfrió en la excursión al campo (Caught cold on the field trip)

Se me acalambro la pierna (my leg is cramped)

10. Verbos de disposición y actitud:

These are type of verbs that epxresses attitude and disposition. Let’s see some examples:

a. Se niega a cantar conmigo

b. No se reian del chico.

11. Verbos de movimiento y estativos

a. De postura corporal

Siéntense, sentarse, pararse, moverse, estirarse, etc.

b. De desplazamiento

Váyanse, marchense, etc




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