Spanish language Spanish Reciprocal Verbs

Reciprocal verbs are used to express the idea of reciprocity - doing something to each other. In Spanish, the plural forms (nosotros, vosotros, and ellos) of reflexive verbs are used to express this idea.

Nosotros nos escribimos todos los días. We write to each other every day.
¿Vosotros os entendéis? Do you understand each other?
Ellos se hablan mucho. They often talk to each other.
¿Uds. se quieren? Do you love 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. (If you know, please post on the forum.)

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?

Reciprocal verbs are one category of pronominal verbs.

More about Spanish pronominal verbs:

More Spanish verbs


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