Reciprocal Verbs

Se miran - Spanish reciprocal verbsVerbos recíprocos

Reciprocal verbs are a type of pronominal verb used to express the idea of reciprocity – doing something to each other. In Spanish, the plural forms (nosotros, vosotros, and ellos) of reciprocal verbs are used to express this idea.

Por ejemplo…

Las águilas se miran.   The eagles are looking at each other.
Nosotros nos escribimos todos los días.   We write to each other every day.
¿Vosotros os entendéis?   Do you understand each other?
¿Uds. se quieren?   Do you love each other?

Most common Spanish reciprocal verbs

amarse   to love each other
animarse   to cheer each other up
ayudarse   to help each other
despedirse   to say goodbye to each other
enojarse   to get angry at each other
escribirse   to write to each other
hablarse   to talk to each other
lastimarse   to hurt each other
llamarse   to call each other
matarse   to kill each other
mirarse   to look at each other
sorprenderse   to surprise each other
verse   to see each other

Some verbs can be used both reflexively and reciprocally, so the expressions el uno al otro or uno a otro can be added to emphasize the reciprocity. Note that these expressions are changed to agree with the subjects in gender and (sometimes*) number.

Nosotras nos ayudamos.   We help ourselves.
Nosotras nos ayudamos una a otra.   We help each other.
Ellos se mataron.   They killed themselves.
Ellos se mataron los unos a los otros.   They killed each other.

* I’m honestly not sure when to use these expressions in the singular or plural. If I find out, I’ll update this lesson with the info.

When you want to say "each other" but the preposition is not a, the reciprocal construction is not used; instead, the verb is used without a reflexive pronoun and the appropriate preposition replaces a in the expressions el uno al otro / uno a otro.

Ellos hablan bien el uno del otro.   They speak well of each other.
¿Uds. pueden estudiar el uno sin el otro?   Can you study without each other?

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