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Reflexive Verbs Indicating Change in Emotion

Translations Often Use 'Get' or 'Become'


In Spanish it is very common to use a reflexive verb to indicate a change in a person's emotional state.

A common example is the reflexive verb enojarse, which typically means "to become angry" or "to get angry": Jennifer se enojó cuando la periodista la llamó por teléfono, Jennifer got angry when the newspaper reporter called her on the telephone.

Use of reflexive verbs such as enojarse isn't the only way to express a change in emotion. In fact, it is possible to translate a sentence such as "she became angry" with a phrase such as se puso for "she became" followed by an adjective such as enojada. But doing so isn't usual when a verb such as enojarse is both common and available. (Enfadarse is preferred over enojarse in some regions: Si pierden los llaves, me enfadaré. If they lose the keys, I'll get angry.)

Here are some of the reflexive verbs frequently used when discussing a change in emotion, along with a sample sentence. This list isn't intended to be complete, nor are the definitions given for some verbs the only ones possible.

  • aburrirse (to get bored with, to get tired of): El abuelo de Paris Hilton se aburrió de su libertina nieta y la desheredó. The grandfather of Paris Hilton got tired of his wild granddaughter and disinherited her.
  • asustarse (to become frightened): Vi a la policía y me asusté. I saw the police and I got scared.
  • alegrarse (to become happy): Se alegró mucho de recibir la noticia. She became very happy upon hearing the news.
  • enamorarse (to fall in love): Te enamorarás de los chicos salvadoreños. You will fall in love with the Salvadoran children.
  • fastidiarse (to become annoyed): Mi decisión se debió sencillamente a que me fastidié de depender de la nicotina. My decision came about simply because I became annoyed at depending on nicotine.
  • irritarse (to become irritated): ¿Se irrita usted con facilidad? Do you get irritated easily?
  • calmarse (to become calm): Durante todo el trayecto estaba preocupado, pero me calmó cuando estábamos aterrizando. During the whole flight I was worried, but I calmed down when were landing.
  • entusiasmarse (to get excited): Cuando oyó estas palabras, Paula se entusiasmó. When she heard these words, Paula got excited.
  • exasperarse (to lose patience): En ocasiones me exaspero. Sometimes I lose my patience.
  • preocuparse (to become worried): Nos preocupamos por el nivel académico de los alumnos. We got worried about the academic level of the students.
  • sorprenderse (to become surprised): Me sorprendí cuando veía que era tan joven. I became surprised when I saw she was so young.

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