Different emotions

The Difference Between Sentir and Sentirse in Spanish

Dennys Caldera Boka Published on November 10, 2023

Spanish, a language rich in emotion, often relies on words to express deep feelings. Two such words that Spanish speakers use are sentir and sentirse. Their similarities might confuse you, but they have subtle differences that set them apart. In this guide, I’ll describe what they mean, how they change in sentences, and give you some examples to help you say how you feel in Spanish. Let’s dive in. 

Difference between Sentir vs Sentirse

The English translation for both is “to feel,” and there’s typically minimal distinction in how they’re applied.

Sentir – Expressing “What” You Feel

Sentir is a transitive verb, which means it requires a direct object in a sentence. In this case, the direct object is a noun. When you use the verb sentir you are feeling something specific. 

Example: Ella sintió una gran decepción. (She felt a great disappointment.)

In the example, “decepción” is the direct object (what she felt), and it’s a noun. 

Sentirse – Depicting “How” You Feel

Sentirse is a reflexive verb, indicating that the action is reflected back onto the subject. The “se” at the end of the verb indicates that you should place the reflexive pronouns in sentences/questions (me/te/se/nos). It implies feeling a certain way about oneself or experiencing a state of being. It modifies an adjective or an adverb, instead of a noun. 

Example: Yo me siento muy orgulloso de mi hija. (I feel very proud of my daughter.)

In the example, “orgulloso” is the adjective modified by the verb. 

Different emotions

Conjugation of Sentir and Sentirse

Conjugation of Sentir

Sentir is a stem-changing verb with an irregular ‘e → ie’ pattern. This means you need to make sure to replace the initial ‘e’ with ‘ie’ in certain tense conjugations (yo siento). 

PronounPresentPreteriteImperfect
Yosientosentísentía
sientessentistesentías
Él/Ellasientesintiósentía
Nosotrossentimossentimossentíamos
Vosotrossentíssentisteissentíais
Ellos/Ellas/ Ustedessientensintieronsentían

Conjugation of Sentirse

As a reflexive verb, “sentirse” is conjugated by adding the reflexive pronoun (me, te, se, nos, se) to match the subject. 

PronounPresentPreteriteImperfect
Yome sientome sentíme sentía
te sienteste sentistete sentías
Él/Ellase sientese sintióse sentía
Nosotrosnos sentimosnos sentimosnos sentíamos
Vosotrosos sentísos sentisteisos sentíais
Ellos/Ellas/ Ustedesse sientense sintieronse sentían
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Usage and Examples of Sentir

We can use “sentir” to express emotions and physical sensations. For example, “Siento frío,” translates to, “I feel cold,” and “Siento alegría” means “I feel joy.” It can also be applied to talk about external stimuli. You feel something because of something else, like feeling pain due to an injury or feeling happiness because of good news.

Examples of Sentir in Sentences

Present Indicative:

  • Siento el calor del sol en mi piel. (I feel the heat of the sun on my skin.)
  • Juan siente alegría cuando escucha música. (Juan feels joy when he listens to music.)
  • Nosotros sentimos el aroma de las flores en el jardín. (We feel the scent of the flowers in the garden.)

Preterite:

  • Sentí la tristeza en sus palabras. (I felt the sadness in her words.)
  • sentiste una gran sorpresa al recibir el regalo. (You felt a big surprise when receiving the gift.)
  • Ellos sintieron mucho miedo durante la tormenta de ayer. (They felt a lot of fear during the storm yesterday.)

Imperfect:

  • Cuando era niño, siempre sentía miedo en la oscuridad. (When I was a child, I always used to feel fear in the darkness.)
  • sentías amor por la naturaleza desde temprana edad. (You used to feel love for nature from an early age.)
  • Nosotros sentíamos la tranquilidad del mar mientras descansábamos en la playa. (We used to feel the tranquility of the sea while resting on the beach.)

Usage and Examples of Sentirse

“Sentirse” helps us express emotions and states. It’s about how you feel within yourself. When you use sentirse, the feeling comes from an internal state or emotion. For example, “Me siento triste” translates to, “I feel sad,” and “Me siento bien” means “I feel well.”

Example Sentences with Sentirse

Present Indicative:

  • Me siento feliz cuando estoy con mis amigos. (I feel happy when I am with my friends.)
  • Ellos se sienten cansados después de la larga caminata. (They feel tired after the long hike.)
  • Carmen se siente emocionada antes de su boda. (Carmen feels excited before her wedding.)

Preterite:

  • Me sentí aliviado después de resolver el problema. (I felt relieved after solving the problem.)
  • Ellos se sintieron emocionados tras el anuncio. (They felt excited after the announcement.)
  • Él se sintió triste por la noticia inesperada. (He felt sad about the unexpected news.)

Imperfect:

  • Ella se sentía agradecida por las pequeñas cosas de la vida. (She used to feel grateful for the little things in life.)
  • Ustedes se sentían tranquilos en medio de la naturaleza. (You all used to feel peaceful in the midst of nature.)
  • Yo me sentía emocionado antes de cada viaje que hacía. (I used to feel excited before every trip I took.)

How to Practice Sentir and Sentirse

To master the art of using “sentir” and “sentirse” effectively, immerse yourself in the language. Practice with native speakers, engage in conversations, complete language exercises, and read Spanish literature. Remember to pay attention to the context in which these verbs are used. Try keeping a journal to record your own sentences using “sentir” and “sentirse” and seek feedback from language experts. Find a study method you enjoy to make your experience with Spanish more fun and engaging. With dedication and practice, you’ll start to feel more confident in your knowledge and be able to use “sentir” and “sentirse” without any confusion.

Final Thoughts

In the melodious Spanish language, “sentir” and “entirse” add depth and richness to your expressions. As you walk through the linguistic landscapes, embrace the nuances of these verbs. With time and dedication, you’ll master the art of speaking about your feelings and emotions in Spanish with precision and grace.

Dennys Caldera Boka

Dennys is a content writer at Langoly. He’s passionate about language learning and has been helping others achieve their goals and develop their language skills for many years. He’s interested in emerging technologies and how they can help people reskill and upskill. He loves cooking, watching sci-fi movies, and listening to podcasts. Connect with Dennys on LinkedIn.

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