Reciprocal verbs are verbs that use the "reflexive" pronouns, but instead of indicating that the action is being performed by a subject unto himself, indicate that two or more subjects perform an action unto each other (*waits for snickers to subside*).


The Pronouns (once again) . . but with the reciprocal meaning

Subject Pronoun Meaning
Yo Me Myself
Te Yourself
Él, ella, usted Se Him/her/yourself
Nosotros NosEach other, one another
Vosotros Os One another,each other
Ellos, ellas, ustedes Se Each other, one another

*Note that the "Reciprocal" meaning is found in the nosotros, vosotros,and ellos/ellas/ustedes forms only.

Reflexive Reciprocal
Nos queremos Nos queremos.
We love ourselves. We love one another.
Ellas se visten. Ellas se visten.
They dress themselves. They dress each other.
Ustedes se bañan. Ustedes se bañan.
You bathe yourselves.You bathe one another.


As you may have noticed, lots of verbs which are used "regularly" are also used reflexively and reciprocally ( querer, lavar, bañar, etc.). Remember that the key to reflexives is that the subject performs an action unto himself. The key with reciprocals is that the two or more subjects involved perform an action unto each other, whereas the non-reflexive, non-reciprocal verb subject performs an action unto another noun, but receives nothing in return.

Ellos se lavan las manos. Ellos se lavan las manos. Ellos lavan las manos de su hijo.
Nos acostamos. Nos acostamos. Acostamos a nuestra hija.
Os despertáis temprano. Os despertáis temprano. Despertáis a vuestro compañero de cuarto.

**Take a Reflexive vs Reciprocal vs "Regular" quiz at