1. Clarify the grammar and the objective of se in comerse/beberse
  2. Clarify which other verbs can take se for the same objective

Related article

It explains that if the object is specific, se + comer is used and se is required. For example, the objects in the sentences below are specific and requires se for comer.

  1. "Godzilla se ha comido el hombre se llama Alan Targas Jr".
  2. "Alan se comío un plato de los mariscos de que él había pescado el propio."

It looks there is something called *los verbos pronominales* but not sure exactly what they are.


However, it looks just because the object is specific does not mean the verb requires 'se'. Some verbs such as 'hacer' makes different meanings with se. Some verbs (seem) do not require 'se' in itself.

This confuses me and I would like to understand why se is used with some verbs and not with others.

  1. What is the idea or the grammar behind se in comer-se.
  2. What kind of verbs can take se like comer to go with a specific object.

For example, which ones below would require 'se' for the specific object?

  1. Él ha andado el camino de la muerte en Bolivia. (He walked the death road in Bolivia)
  2. Él ha hecho la casa en la que vive por él mismo. (He made his house by himself)
  3. Él ha conseguido el premio nobel de física en 2010. (He got the Novel prize of physics in 2010)

To indicate to see the previous chapter such as "See the article 25 in page 31", it could be Véase el artículo en la página 31. Is the se here same with se in comers?


Learnt from a teacher below. My understanding now is that when a speaker has a quite specific situation/location/person/thing in mind, it manifests as 'se'. If it is a general statement, 'se' does not appear.

  • Me lo pensaré (I do think about it) y lo pensaré (I think about it)
  • Voy a asegurarme de que Juan complete las tareas (I do make sure Juan finishes his tasks)
  • Me echo la siesta (I do have a nap) y echo la siesta (I take a nap)

If 'se' is missing in a statement referring to a quite specific situation, such as 'Gozilla comío el hombre', the Spanish natives appear to feel strange about the sentence.

  • 1
    A verbo pronominal is a reflexive verb. That's just the term for them in Spanish. Commented Feb 1, 2015 at 16:51
  • I believe 'reflexive verb' is part of 'pronominal verbs' such as 'impersonal', 'reciprocal', 'reflexive'. It seems (to me) se in 'comer.se' is another usage to emphasize or being specific with the object (or maybe subject?) like 'propio' or 'el mismo'. But not sure.
    – mon
    Commented Feb 3, 2015 at 4:37
  • @user0721090601 That's wrong. Pronominal verb is a verb which requires a reflexive pronoun. A reflexive verb is a verb in which the subject acts on him/herself (eg me corté). Differentiating both is important in Spanish because many verbs require the reflexive pronoun, but this pronoun does not express a reflexive action (eg me comí una manzana). Commented Nov 27, 2019 at 22:03

6 Answers 6


I'm going to quote from "A New Reference Grammar of Modern Spanish" by Butt and Benjamin.

One optional function of the pronominal form of some transitive verbs is to emphasize the totality of an act of consuming, perceiving or knowing. Thus one says como pizza (no quantity specified), but optionally--though usually--me comí una pizza. The verb must have a direct object which must refer to a specific item or quantity.

With beberse and comerse (and there are other verbs that can be used this way) the meaning is that the object was completely ate or drank up. That's why it requires a direct object with this meaning.

As far as completely being able to understand all the uses of se, and by that I mean all pronominal verbs, it may take some time and study. The same book quoted above lists eight different constructions for pronominal verbs.

reflexive - where the subject both does and receives the action of the verb
reciprocal - this is only with plural subjects, where the action is done to each other
intransitive - Se abrío la puerta.
se de matización - This varies with the verb, but can indicate a subtle change of meaning from the non-pronominal form
total consumption - that's the example with beberse and comerse
passive se - Se contruyó el puente.
special construction - Se arrestró a dos personas.
impersonal - En España se vive bien.


In short, se at the end of a verb indicates that it's a reflexive verb, meaning a verb pertaining to an individual.

As an example, levantar means to lift/pull up, but levantarse (same word but reflexive) means to get up. In essence it's a reflexive version of lift, that could be viewed (for better understanding) as to lift (oneself) up, in this case referring to getting out of bed.

The se takes form after the person who is performing the action. Eg.

(Levantarse, yo) => Yo me levanto.

(Levantarse, tu) => Tu te levantas

  • 2
    I am afraid se in comer.se is not exactly reflexive in this case. 'Yo me como' does not make sense. It requires a specific object.
    – mon
    Commented Feb 2, 2015 at 11:30
  • @monta the reflexive pronoun needn't necessarily substitute for the direct object — it can also substitute equally well for the indirect. Compare to dialectal English: "I ate me/myself a whole pizza". That there is a direct object means that the reflexive pronoun may only be interpreted as an indirect. Commented Feb 2, 2015 at 22:22
  • @guifa, thanks for the explanation. Still I wonder the differences between 'me ha comido una pizza' and 'me ha comido la pizza'. Both correct or 'la pizza' is correct?
    – mon
    Commented Feb 3, 2015 at 4:31
  • @monta should be 'me he comido una pizza' and 'me he comido la pizza' to reference oneself, or 'se ha comido una pizza' and 'se ha comido la pizza' to reference to another person Commented Feb 3, 2015 at 19:14
  • @monta the only time that "me ha comida la pizza" is if someone ate the pizza and you wish to demonstrate that you were someone affected (either you wanted to eat it, and they ate it thus preventing you, or you benefited by it by, I dunno, sticking to your diet better) Commented Feb 3, 2015 at 19:17

I agree with all the answers about the 'se' particle and the reflexive use of verbs. This is the general usage/meaning of it. But I'm afraid the particular case the OP is asking for is a very specific usage that only applies to 'comer' and 'beber' (probably there are more cases that I can't remember now).

Of course you can think of a truly reflexive use of 'comer': "Juan se come las uñas" (Juan eats his own nails) but the common use of 'se' + 'comer'/'beber' is to indicate a specific object.

Ex: "Juan bebio vino" --> vino is used as an uncountable and generic object. The meaning of this sentence is to express that Juan drank wine instead of water, beer, etc.

Ex: "Juan se bebio una botella de vino" --> Now you have a countable and specific object". This sentence have more weight on the quantity Juan drank which is very well defined.

Now the OP examples:

  1. Él ha andado el camino de la muerte en Bolivia. (He walked the death road in Bolivia): Grammaticaly it is correct as it is. However, a more idiomatic way of saying it will be. "Ha hecho el camino de la muerte en Bolivia" (hacer may mean he walked the road or he actually built it, but it should be clear from the context)
  2. Él ha hecho la casa en la que vive por él mismo. (He made his house by himself): This is interesting. I will say: "Se ha hecho la casa en la que vive" in that sentence the reflexive 'se' implies he did it by himself and for himself.
  3. Él ha conseguido el premio nobel de física en 2010. (He got the Novel prize of physics in 2010). This one is perfectly fine as it is.

Hope it helps

  • thanks a lot for another helpful suggestions. Just wonder if it is possible to say 'me comoro la ropa hecho por Emporio Armani'.
    – mon
    Commented Feb 6, 2015 at 12:51
  • The reflexive use of 'comprar' is ok. Your sentence, however, doesn't sound fine. I will say "Me compro la ropa en Emporio Armani"
    – DieMartin
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 13:40
  • @monta "me compro la ropa hecha por Emporio Armani."
    – Schwale
    Commented May 24, 2015 at 14:10

Reflexive pronouns work with a reflexive verb to indicate that a person is performing the action toward or for him- or herself.The subject is performing the action on him- or herself, making the object of the verb, the same as the subject. Compare these two sentences in which one is reflexive and one is not.

I wash myself. (Me lavo.)

I wash the dog. (Lavo el perro.)

In the first sentence, myself is the object of wash. In the second sentence, the dog is the object of wash

When the object of the verb is the same person as the subject, you will need to use a reflexive pronoun that matches the subject of the verb in both number (singular, plural) and person (1st, 2nd, 3rd).


as all people say, this is a "verbo pronominal" as (me, te, se, nos, os) and you need to think all that as a family... I will give you some examples... I hope this help you...

for example this is the same action but performed by different people:

Esta mañana me puse calcetines 
Esta mañana Maria me puso calcetines

also the se can be used as a suggestion..... for example:

as a obligation (you must do this):

Vea el artículo en la página 31 

as suggestion (you should do this.. but you can decide): (in this case you can decide if you want more information or not... if you want then you should see the new article

Véase el artículo

also you can add some aditional verb.. for example

as a obligation (you must do this): for example your mom say:

usted debe levantarse  (as a order)

as suggestion (you should do this.. but you can decide): for example your mom say:

usted deberia levantarse 

as a obligation (you must do this): for example your doctor say:

Usted no debe comer pizza antes de dormir (as a order)

as suggestion (you should do this.. but you can decide): for example your mom say:

usted no debería comerse esa pizza antes de dormir

I think that the reflexive forms are used only when there's a direct object and you want to add some kind of emphasis. For example:

Me comí todo lo que me diste.
Me lo comí todo. <- More emphatic and informal, familiar
Me comí todo. <- More general, without emphasis, sounds literary

Similarly, with beber:

¿Te bebiste lo que había en esta botella?
¿Te lo bebiste? <- reproval, anger, surprise, also informal, precision
¿Lo bebiste? <- sounds kinder, this person worries about the situation

But "beber" itself is not a familiar as "tomar". Looking at the other responses there also seem to be a variety of reasons to use the reflexive form with other verbs.

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