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Impersonal se or reflexive verb?


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Old August 09, 2020, 05:35 PM
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Question Impersonal se or reflexive verb?


I encountered this sentence describing a chiripá and I'm not sure if the verb here is sujetarse or sujetar using the impersonal "se"

Se sujeta a la cintura con una faja, no tiene costuras, ni botones, ni presillas.

Does anyone know?

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Old August 09, 2020, 07:31 PM
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It is neither.

There are actually two complete sentences here, with improper punctuation in between.

The first sentence contains the verb in question - sujetar.
This transitive verb takes a direct object, but that object isn't mentioned in the sentence. The sentence is talking about fastening said object to a person's waist.

The subject isn't mentioned. The object is what is important, and it is being acted on by the verb. So, the nearest English translation would be rendered in the passive voice, and the missing object would be referenced with the pronoun 'it'.
It's fastened to the waist with a belt.

There are two ways to express this passivity in Spanish. One is by using the passive voice (which uses a form of ser, plus a past participle, which appear in the English translation above). The other is by using a construction called pasiva refleja. This is the more common usage, and it is the one being used here.

To your credit, there can be some overlap between the se impersonal and the pasiva refleja, but it seems clear to me that the unmentioned direct object is being talked about, and it is being acted on by the verb. That's why this sentence calls for the pasiva refleja.
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