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tyrion June 05, 2017 12:34 PM

Help needed to explain reflexive verbs
I know that a reflexive verb is a verb where the action is performed against the subject itself. Or simply put, something I do myself or to myself.

I am struggling to understand the difference between the use of 2 verbs: subir and saltar when used in the following sentences:

"Yo me subó a la mesa" - I climbed on the table.
"Él saltó del velero" - I jumped from the sailboat

Why is climbing (me subó) an action performed on oneself and jumping (saltó) is not? How does one climb oneself?

Or, is the word "me" in the sentence being used as a direct object pronoun and not a reflective pronoun?

Rusty June 05, 2017 06:59 PM

A reflexive verb is a subset of the pronominal verbs. (Not all pronominal verbs are reflexive verbs, but all reflexive verbs are pronominal verbs.)
The action of the verb reflects back on the subject when a reflexive verb is used.
A pronominal verb can look exactly like a reflexive verb, but the action is not reflected back on the subject.

The verb in your first sentence is not properly conjugated. It must be in the first person in order to be considered a proper context for the title of the thread.

Your second sentence isn't translated correctly. It should say 'He jumped'.

subir = to climb, go up, get on, get in, board, get on board
subirse = to go to somebody's head, to go straight to somebody's head, to talk down to
subirse = to get in or on

saltar = to jump, leap
saltarse = skip (fail to do something), go off (a diet or routine), break (a law)

As you can see, subirse is not always reflexive. And saltarse is usually not used in a reflexive way. These are pronominal verbs.

The meaning of 'me subí a la mesa' is a way to give emphasis to the fact that you got yourself up there. In other words, it denotes that you climbed it in a quick or awkward fashion. To simply say that you climbed up on the table, you can omit the pronoun (and the preposition).

aleCcowaN June 05, 2017 09:13 PM

Me subí a la mesa [You are the source of power that lifted you there]
Salté por la borda (del velero) [You simply left gravity to do the trick]


Me caí por la borda [unlike the pretty impersonal account "caí por la borda", that "me" tells the event had severe personal consequences. Think of that like it is "me rompí el brazo" -I broke my arm-. In Spanish "rompí mi brazo" means you did it on purpose]

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