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Tyrn July 29, 2019 09:38 AM

Se la pasa

From SpanishDict:

ˇDana es una mandona! Se la pasa dándome órdenes.

Dana is such a bossy pants! She's always telling me what to do.

Is it just a set expression one has to memorize? Or is there some grammar behind it?

aleCcowaN July 29, 2019 10:20 AM


Pasársela (pasar+se+la) is an excellent example of lexicalized pronouns. When pronouns aren't used the "usual" way but they themselves add to the meaning of the verb.

Pasársela means "to spend all the time doing some continuous action, or doing something once and again, almost relentlessly, in a way that resembles a continuous action".

Se la pasa viendo televisión = He watches television all the time.
Se la pasa vigilándome = She's constantly watching me. She keeps an eye on me all the time.

Tyrn July 29, 2019 10:49 AM


Originally Posted by aleCcowaN (Post 176399)
Se la pasa viendo televisión = He watches television all the time.

Doesn't la imply she? Or am I just blundering?

BTW, Google brings up next to nothing on lexicalized pronouns. Maybe there are better keywords?

Rusty July 29, 2019 12:05 PM

This is a set phrase. It is rendered as pasárselo in Spain, by the way.
Just use the phrase as you hear it used, with the meaning as explained.

Lexical pronouns carry a pragmatic meaning instead of representing an antecedent (the direct object pronoun doesn't represent a feminine person/thing or, in Spain, a masculine person/thing/idea).

Tyrn July 29, 2019 12:24 PM

I mean, where can I see a modest collection of lexical pronouns?

aleCcowaN July 29, 2019 12:36 PM

As Rusty says, in these cases the pronouns carry meaning themselves and doesn't relate with the object, hence the term lexical/lexicalized (intended to enrich the lexicon).

You may imagine lo to be the time in pasarlo bien (have fun / enjoy oneself/ves) or la to be the whole situation in pasarla bien (same meaning).

Many times these pronouns are part of longer verbal phrases and they don't even coordinate gender or number, like in Argentine expression ponerle el pecho a las balas (literally, to use one's chest as a shield, meaning to be fearless in adversity or carelessly imprudent when in danger). It should be ponerles el pecho ... because it's las balas, but it's not. So you have to learn these as vocabulary.

Fortunately it may be just 15 or 20 you should know to reach an advanced level in Spanish.


I don't know where to find a list of cases. They are a subset of verbal phrases, and there are glossaries for them. Regional language provide tons of examples, for instance, Mexican "a ver cómo le hace para solucionar el problema"

Some instances that come to mind:

pasarla bien/ pasarlo bien
vérselas ---> vérselas con alguien (to deal with someone) / vérselas negras (to face a great deal of troubles)
matarlas callando ---> to be up to something on the quiet / to appear innocent

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