The “SE” pronoun


Using the ‘SE’ pronoun

Indirect Object Pronoun

The ‘SE’ form of the indirect object pronoun can  refer to:

1.- A third person singular or plural when both (direct and indirect object) pronouns are used.

To donate-> donar

1. I donate a book to the school.

Yo dono un libro a la escuela.

2. I donate it to them.

Yo se lo dono.



A reflexive verb in English it’s expressed with: myself, yourself, herself, etc.

In Spanish we use the object pronouns for all the different subjects except for the third person (singular and plural), which will useSE’. Place it ( same as with object pronouns ) before a conjugated verb, attached to the infinitive or present progressive .

To wake up-> levantarse, despertarse
1. I wake up at seven.(Yo) me levanto a las siete. (Literally: I wake myself up at seven)

2. You wake up at seven.

() te levantas a las siete. (Literally: You wake yourself up at seven)

3. They wake up/(S)He wakes up

(Ellos/Ellas) se levantan/(El/Ella) se levanta


Reciprocal “SE”

Again, the idea is that whatever is identified with ‘se’ is an object. In this case, the action is reciprocal. As with the reflexive ‘se’, it represents a third person (singular or plural).


To look, to see-> mirarse, verse

1. They look at each other.

Ellos(Ellas) se miran.

For other persons:

1. You and I see each other.

Tú y yo (implying a `we’) nos vemos.

2. Y’all see each other.

Ustedes se ven. (Used in restof world) /Vosotros os véis.  (used in Spain)


HERE no particular subject is expressed, (  then the impersonality of its use).

In English you say:

It is said* that the books are dirty.

Se dice que los libros están sucios.

It’s necessary that people protect the Earth.

Se necesita que la gente proteja la Tierra.

Spanish is spoken here

Se habla español aquí.

It’s said it is going to rain tomorrow

Se dice que va a llover mañana

Smoking is prohibited

Se prohibe fumar. 

 *Note that the tense of the verbs ( ‘to say’ /tell/speak)in English is expressed in the preterite and acts as a past participle while the verb “to be” is added.     SAY  =  SAID
This use reflects a passive construction, and many times this use of “se” can be confused with the passive “se.”

Another English equivalent is the use of “one.” For example:

One should never arrive late to a dinner

Nunca se debe llegar tarde a una cena



In English there are similar constructions using the passive voice.

A beach is seen from my house

Se ve una playa  desde mi casa

As in passive constructions, the object of the ‘active voice’ becomes the subject of the passive construction, and the person who sees the beach is not considered important. The emphasis here is in the object seen (beach) and the action (to see). If we construct a regular, active structure, we would need to assign a subject:

I see a beach from my house.

(Yo) Veo una playa desde mi casa

Subject ( I/ yo)
Verb (SEE/Ver)
Object (beach/playa)
  •  “Accidental”   SE.

  • The  accidental ‘se’ is related to the reflexive and passive use. For example, in English speakers say:

    I drop the keys.

    In Spanish, the idea is that it wasn’t me who drops them on purpose, the action was not intended to happen. Therefore, the action is attributed to the keys, while the ‘I‘ becomes an indirect object.

Se me caen las llaves.

If the intended idea is that I drop the keys on purpose, then a verb such as ‘to throw’ (tirar) or another equivalent of ‘to drop’ (dejar caer) would be used.

I drop the keys.

(Yo) Tiro las llaves.
(Yo) Dejo caer las llaves.

Construye oraciones utilizando el ‘se’ impersonal o pasivo. Conjugue el verbo en el presente de indicativo.

Ejemplo: En Cuba nunca (llegar) tarde a una cena.

Respuesta: En Cuba nunca se llega tarde a una cena.

1. (Decir) que todos los aviones de Iberia son grandes.

2. (Comentar) que los pilotos de Aerolineas Mexicanas tienen mucha experiencia.

3. Todos los años (aumentar) la matrícula en la Universidad.

4. En México (poder) conseguir joyas de plata bonita .

5. En la aerolínea (insistir) en dar buen servicio al cliente.

6. (Rogar) a los pasajeros que tengan su pasaporte a mano.

7. En ese lugar no (poder) pagar con tarjetas de crédito.

8. Nunca (comentar) sobre la comida del avión.

9. Siempre (estar) demorado si (salir) muy tarde de la casa.


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