This particular podcast lesson was requested from someone we would consider to be a ‘high level’ student with an already broad understanding of the Spanish language. And yet, despite that, this particular range of verbs that we cover on ways to say’to Move’ in Spanish still caused him confusion.
Why so difficult?
The principle reason for the confusion is that there are different verbs for different moves. On top of that, sometimes they are reflexive and sometimes not.
It might be worth taking a little look at the difference between a standard verb and a reflexive verb.
If you ever find you way into one of my classes on Reflexive verbs you will probably hear me sing my little song, “A reflexive verb has a arse on the end, arse on the end…etc.”
Of course, that’s not strictly true because that only applies to AR verbs. However, it’s a fun way of remembering it.
Another student of mine incorrectly calls them reflective verbs. Yet, even though that not the right name, it is a great description of what they actually do.
Reflexive verbs REFLECT back the action onto the self same people doing the action.
What does that mean?
It means that unlike normal verbs that always involve the actor and the person or thing being acted upon, reflexive verbs only describe what the person or the people are doing to themselves.
Here’s an example with the verb TO MOVE in Spanish which is MOVER or MOVERSE.
You should move yourself a bit more. = Deberías moverte un poco más. ONLY YOU ARE MOVING AND YOU ARE DOING IT TO YOURSELF. (The clue is the word yourself.)
Can you move your hand please? = ¿Puedes mover tu mano, por favor? YOU ARE NOW THE ACTOR AND THE HAND IS BEING ACTED UPON: THUS THIS IS NOT REFLEXIVE.
Can all verbs be reflexive?
An interesting question. The vast majority of verbs CAN be reflexive although some simply can’t. For example:
VIVIR = To Live, can’t be reflexive.
NACER = To be born, can’t be reflexive.
However, apart from a few select verbs, the rest can be both. Often, however, the meaning changes when the verb becomes reflexive.
Here’s an interesting example:
CREER= To Believe
¿Crees que es un buen hombre? = Do you believe/think that he’s a good man?
Él se cree superior a los demás. = He believes himself to be/think he is better than everyone else.
You have to be careful with these kind of verbs. Sometimes the meaning is very clear yet many times it changes completely.
The best way to understand them is to use such tools as Wordreference.com or ask a native speaker. That way you won’t make mistakes like I did with the innocent verb Correr and its rather less innocent reflexive cousin. (And no further information can be supplied on this. Investigate for yourself.)
Enjoy the podcast. Nos vamos y nos vemos.
Video for This Spanish Lesson
Audio for This Spanish Lesson