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Reflexive verbs that admit impersonal reflexive construction

 

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  #1  
Old August 27, 2012, 07:47 AM
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Reflexive verbs that admit impersonal reflexive construction

The Spanish grammar textbook that I'm using says:

Some reflexive verbs admit the impersonal reflexive construction and take, therefore, an indirect object (e.g. Se le olvidó la carta.)

What does this rule mean? I know what reflexive verbs are but I don't know why it applies to the above example. How do I know when I should use this rule? Can I also use, for example, "Olvidó la carta." to say the same thing as the above example?

Gracias.
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  #2  
Old August 27, 2012, 09:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coffee Kitten View Post
The Spanish grammar textbook that I'm using says:

Some reflexive verbs admit the impersonal reflexive construction and take, therefore, an indirect object (e.g. Se le olvidó la carta.)

What does this rule mean? I know what reflexive verbs are but I don't know why it applies to the above example. How do I know when I should use this rule? Can I also use, for example, "Olvidó la carta." to say the same thing as the above example?

Gracias.
Yes, but olvidarse can be used as an impersonal reflexive:

I forgot my passport: me olvidé del pasaporte or olvidé el pasaporte or se me olvidó el pasaporte.

The last option is the impersonal reflexive, literally the passport forgot itself to me, me being the indirect object.
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Old August 28, 2012, 08:42 PM
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Hmm... I think I got the use of "se" in "se me olvidó el pasaporte;" basically, it's blaming the passport for forgetting to be with me (or something like that).

But how do I know when I'm allowed to use this structure? Take, for example, "me gusta pan." Why can't I say "se me gusta pan"? Isn't the bread making itself pleasing to me?
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Old August 29, 2012, 08:02 AM
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"Me gusta el pan".

Please note that the verb gustar has a different structure from other verbs. "Se me gusta" is incorrect. The subject is the bread and the action it performs is gustar. I am the object, not the subject in that structure.


I wonder what the rest of your book chapter is about. It would be much easier to explain that rule in context, as this seems to be a particular case of... the use of "se"? the use of indirect object? the use of reflexive verbs?
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Old August 29, 2012, 10:32 PM
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Hi Angelica! The chapter is about reflexive verbs. These were the examples supplied:

* Se les figura que son ricos. They imagine they are rich.
* Se nos olvidó decirte. We forgot to tell you.
* Se le olvidó la carta. He forgot the letter.

I understand the use of "se" in other contexts, such as in "No se ven ahora," or in "Esto se hizo el año pasado," or in "Aquí se habla francés," or in "Se lava" and in "Se levanta." I'm just confused about why "se" is present in the first three sentences; I thought that they could do without it. I'm also not sure how the examples make use of reflexive verbs (except for "Se le olvidó la carta," which Perikles explained earlier).

Last edited by Coffee Kitten; August 29, 2012 at 10:47 PM.
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Old August 31, 2012, 08:57 PM
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I have an idea. I tried translating the sentences to passive voice and they kinda made more sense to me.

* Se les figura que son ricos. That they are rich is imagined by them.
* Se nos olvidó decirte. Telling you was forgotten by us.
* Se le olvidó la carta. The letter was forgotten by me.

I still don't know how "impersonal reflexive construction" comes in, but somehow the construction of these sentences became clearer in my head.
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Old September 01, 2012, 04:43 AM
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olvidar (three ways to use it):

transitive, the subject is a person, the direct object is what is forgotten ---> No olvide dónde está

intransitive pronominal, the subject is a person and a complement that begins with "de" expresses what is forgotten ---> Se había olvidado de dónde estaba

intransitive pronominal, the subject is what is forgotten and the person who forgets is expressed by an indirect object ---> Se le había olvidado dónde estaba

About figurar, your example is not clear at all. To me is "se los figura ricos" or "(a ellos) se les figura que (los otros) son ricos". I found no example in both corpora that suggest the use of a structure "se les figura que son ricos" meaning "se los tiene por ricos".
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Old September 04, 2012, 08:58 PM
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It's hard to make a list of verbs that behave the same as others. It's only by reading and being exposed to language that one can know what verbs admit certain constructions.

Instead, I have made some notes on the use of verbs ending with "-se". I hope you'll find them useful.

There are three main functions of "se":

1) Pronominal
a. Used when IO is preceded by DO:
· Les di un regalo. -> Se lo di.
I gave them a present. -> I gave it to them.
· El abuelo le leyó un cuento. -> Se lo leyó.
Grandfather read a story to him. -> He read it to him.
· Les abrieron la puerta. -> Se la abrieron.
They opened the door for them. -> They opened it for them.
· Le canté una canción. -> Se la canté.
I sang a song to her. -> I sang it to her.

b. Reflexive "se" - (Particular case of pronominals) Used when the subject performs an action on him/herself; when it's a reciprocal action between two or more individuals:
· Juan se peina.
Juan combs his hair.
· Los niños se lavaron las manos antes de comer.
The children washed their hands before eating.
· Te levantas muy temprano todos los días, ¿nunca descansas?.
You wake up very early every day, don't you ever have rest?
· Me dije (a mí mismo) que tenía que decir la verdad.
I told myself that I had to tell the truth.
· Mi esposo y yo nos conocimos en la universidad.
My husband and I met in the university.
· En este foro nos apoyamos unos a otros para aprender idiomas.
In this forum we help each other to learn languages.
 
*There are some verbs that are exclusively pronominal, like "arrepentirse", "quejarse", "adueñarse", etc.
· Te vas a arrepentir de haberme insultado.
· Pedro siempre se está quejando de su mala suerte.
· La nueva empresa se adueñó de todo el mercado.

And there are some verbs that take a nuance of meaning when expressed as pronominals, like "irse", "dormirse", "salirse", etc.
· Dormí en la casa de mi abuelo. - Me dormí en la casa de mi abuelo.
I slept at grandfathers place. - I fell asleep at grandfather's place.
· El jefe salió de la junta. - El jefe se salió de la junta.
The boss went out from the meeting. - The boss left the meeting.

(I think this could be the answer to your question, Kitten)
c. "Voz media": it expresses an action that happens to the subject, without an apparent cause or when the cause doesn't matter (mostly because it's beyond anyone's control.)
· La casa se incendió.
The house caught fire.
· Las calles se inundaron.
The streets got flooded.

When the verb is built as a pronominal and is combined with impersonal "se", it underlines the action happening on the subject (with no one having control over it, or the subject performing the action is irrelevant).
· Se me rompió la falda.
My skirt got torn.
· Se nos cayó el techo encima.
The ceiling fell upon us.
· Se me ocurre que podemos hacer un buen negocio.
It occurs to me that we can make a good business.



2) Impersonal sentences (where there is no subject)
· Se siente bien estar en casa.
It feels good to be at home.
· Se vive mejor en el campo que en la ciudad.
It's better to live in the country than in the city.
· Aquí no se discrimina a nadie.
Nobody is discriminated here.
· En estos días sólo se habla de crisis económica.
These days all people talk about is economic crisis.
 

3) Voz pasiva refleja
· Se habla español.
Spanish spoken.
· Se venden frutas frescas.
Fresh fruits for sale.
· Esa computadora se hizo en México.
That computer was made in Mexico.
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Last edited by AngelicaDeAlquezar; June 14, 2013 at 02:24 PM. Reason: Fixed grammar.
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  #9  
Old September 05, 2012, 08:44 PM
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Alec: Wow, so many ways to construct sentences that mean (almost) the same thing! Okay, looks like I gotta practice writing sentences in at least three ways from now on...

As for "figurar"... I've seen "figurar" being used as "imagine" only in the textbook that I'm using, but I think I'll chicken out for the meantime and use the more convenient "imaginar." Thank you.

Angelica: Oh wow, the guide that you've made is so useful, and so clear with its many examples! It helps me understand "se" much better. Thank you so much!
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Old September 21, 2012, 07:23 PM
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Very good examples, Angélica. They help answer a question put to me awhile back regarding the difference between the English "fall" and "fall down;" it's "caer" and "caerse," right? Can I think of the "se" in that case as an intensifier? Is there a better answer?
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