Is there a difference really between and ? I had never heard of pronominal before participating in this site. Example question:

I understand that Me llamo is like, I am [name] but so is nombre. So which one would be used and in what scenario? Are they both acceptable? Is one more formal than the other?

1 Answer 1


I looked around quite a bit a few months ago for answers to a question that has to do with this, namely, is the term "verbo pronominal" (or its equivalent) employed in linguistics, or by grammarians, in languages other than Spanish?

I found that our verbos pronominales are called like this in studies of Romance languages, but not elsewhere. In particular, since I'm studying German, and German has quite a lot of these, I looked to see if they're referred to in a special way, but I found they're just lumped with the reflexive verbs, often with a rather unsatisfactory explanation as to why they're called "reflexive" when they are (sometimes plainly) not reflexive.

The category "pronominal verb" is sometimes vague, but there are a million studies of Spanish that deal with them as such, and the dictionaries also clearly mark pronominal verbs. So if you ask me, these two tags should remain separate.

  • Pablo, do you happen to know where to find a Q&A here that will explain succinctly and clearly the difference between the two concepts? When I started speaking Spanish, I worked with a (second hand) slim starter text (slim because it was succinct and also printed on thin paper during the war) that only explained the term "reflexive." I think this difference might make a good canonical question (except that sometimes canonical answers tend to be waay too long and complete). // Something funny: You have been labeled as a "New contributor"! I guess they're going by date of entry, not rep. Commented Sep 2, 2018 at 16:05
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    Why not ask a question? It should be, I think, about what the difference is between reflexive and pronominal verbs, and nothing more.
    – pablodf76
    Commented Sep 3, 2018 at 1:02
  • @aparente001 for what it is worth I never found the term pronominal in the texts I used when learning, even moderately advanced ones. They were all published in the UK if that is relevant.
    – mdewey
    Commented Sep 3, 2018 at 8:38
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    Agreed with pablo, let's ask a question about it and make its content part of the wiki and excerpt of the tag. @aparente001 do you feel like posting the question? Also we can later on find examples of questions that should fit in one tag and not the other and, eventually, retag as needed.
    – fedorqui
    Commented Sep 9, 2018 at 12:50
  • The term in English about Spanish, French and Portuguese is reflexive verbs, which means a verb that uses pronouns. Those verbs use pronouns, pronominal is the adjective for pronouns. But in English, we would not say pronominal verb (even though some loonies "out there" do) even though the word exists. Un verbo pronominal is a reflexive verb and a un pronombre reflexivo is a reflexive pronoun. Since every verbo pronominal takes a pronoun, they are reflexive. But in Spanish some verbs 1) must be used reflexively and 2) others can be used reflexively. And thus in 2),it's tricky.
    – Lambie
    Commented Sep 19, 2018 at 18:32

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