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Uses of the Pronoun "Se"


This lesson includes information on:


  1. Seas Indirect and Direct Object Pronouns
  2. Sein Impersonal Statements
  3. Sein Transitive Sentences
  4. Se as a Reflexive Pronoun


1.  Se as Indirect and Direct Object Pronouns

Seis used:

a)      To substitute for the indirect object pronouns le and les when there are two object pronouns:

·         one indirect le or les

·         the other direct, lo, la, los, or las in the same sentence. 

For example:

o        Se los compró.  (He bought them for her.) 

b)      As a direct object pronoun or an indirect object pronoun when it coincides with the subject. 

For example:

o        La niña se cambia la ropa.  (The girl changed her clothes.)

2. Se in Impersonal Statements

Seis used:

a)      When the action of a subject is performed toward another subject.

For example:

o        Pedro y María se abrazaron.  (Peter and Mary hugged.)

b)      In impersonal statements and can be used only in the third person.

For example:

o        En esa escuela se aprende buen español.   (In that school one learns good Spanish.) 

c)      In sentences where it works as an incremental verb indicating the passive character of the sentence and can be used only in the third person for this purpose. 

For example:

o        Se venden tortillas.  (They sell tortillas.)

3.  Se in Transitive Sentences

Sometimes se is used:

a)      As a reflexive pronoun only to intensify the meaning of the verb in transitive or intransitive sentences. 

For example:

o        Durmió dos horas.(He slept for two hours.)

o        Se durmió dos horas {transitive}.  (He slept for two hours.) 

o        Vino rápidamente.(He came quickly.)

o        Se vino rápidamente {intransitive}.  (He came quickly.)

b)      With some verbs that sometimes have transitive structures and are not reflexive with different subjects and direct complements. 

·         It has the construction of the middle voice. 

·         Usually the transitive construction is lost with the direct complement and a supplement is introduced. 

For example:

o        No castigue usted a los niños.  (Don’t punish the children.)

o        No los castigue (transitive).  (Don’t punish them.)

o        No se castigue usted (voz media).  (Don’t punish yourself.)


4.  Se as a Reflexive Pronoun

There are verbs where it is necessary to have the reflexive pronoun and the verb doesn’t exist without it.  These verbs can use a supplement. 

For example:

o        Se arrepintió de lo que había dicho.  (He regretted what he had said.)