Understanding in English: Direct and Indirect Objects
The direct object of the verb is the person or thing that directly receives the action of the verb. Answers the question “What or who is directly affected by the action expressed by the verb?” He buy the backpack. I give money.
The indirect object of a verb expresses the person (or thing) that in some way benefits from or is harmed by the action of the verb. Answers the question “To whom or for whom (or to what or for what) is the action being done?” He buys the backpack for his sister. I give the money to the university.
When either the direct or the indirect object of a sentence is the SAME person (or thing) as the SUBJECT, the sentence is called reflexive. I dress myself every morning. D.O. = myself I also brush my teeth. D.O. = my teeth/IMPLIED I.O. = for myself They put on makeup. D.O. = makeup/IMPLIED I.O. = for themselves
Although the Spanish reflexive pronouns are at times the equivalent of English pronouns (myself, yourself, etc.), in most cases the pronouns would be understood, but not stated, in an English sentence. Todas las mañanas me afeito. Every morning I shave [myself]. Te miras mucho en el espejo. You look in the mirror [at yourself] a lot.
There is a set of specifically reflexive pronouns that must be used in reflexive sentences in Spanish: me te nos se
These reflexive pronouns are different from Indirect Object Pronouns (IOPs) that you use to construct sentences with verbs like gustar, and also to indicate an indirect object: I send him a letter – indirect object is DIFFERENT from the subject, so you use an IOP: Yo le envio una carta. menos te lesle
Notice: se is used for both singular and plural—your verb indicates whether you mean sing. or plural (ej. Se levanta v. se levantan) Reflexive pronouns immediately precede a conjugated verb EXCEPT in the case of affirmative commands: Te levantas a las siete. ¡Levántate!
In the infinitive, the reflexive pronouns are attached at the end: Quiere cepillarse el pelo.
Memorize them, know what they mean, and be able to use them in a sentence!
Acostarse (ue): to go to bed Afeitarse: to shave Bañarse: to bathe, to take a bath Cansarse: to become tired Cepillarse (el pelo, los dientes): to brush one’s teeth, hair. Ducharse: to take a shower Lavarse: to wash oneself Levantarse: to get up Maquillarse: to put makeup on
Peinarse: to comb one’s hair Pintarse los labios: to put lipstick on Desayunarse: to have breakfast Despedirse de (i): to say goodbye to Despertarse (ie): to wake up Dormirse: to fall asleep Ponerse: to put (something) on Prepararse: to get ready Quitarse (la ropa): to take off (clothing) Vestirse (i): to get dressed
Notice: In Spanish, unlike English, possessive pronouns are NOT used with parts of the body. Juan se lava la cara todas las mañanas. Elisa siempre se pinta los labios en la clase de biología.
Aburrirse: to get bored Alegrarse: to become happy Asustarse: to become afraid, get scared Cansarse: to get tired Casarse: to get married Desmayarse: to faint, become faint Enfadarse: to get angry Enojarse: to get angry Entristecerse: to become sad Mojarse: to get wet Resfriarse: to become cold or get a cold
Acordarse (ue) de: to remember Apresurarse: to hurry Arrepentirse (ie) de: to repent, be sorry Atreverse a: to dare Burlarse de: to make fun of Negarse (ie) a: to refuse to Olivdarse de: to forget Parecerse a: to resemble, look like Quejarse: to complain Reírse (í): to laugh at Tratarse de: to be concerned with; to be about (a question of)
Reciprocal Sentences, the Passive Voice, and other uses of “se”
Reciprocal sentences are those in which two or more subjects both perform an action and mutually receive it. In English: each other or one another. The plural forms of reflexive verbs are used to express reciprocal actions in Spanish.
Nos abrazamos cuando nos vemos. Ellos se besan cuando se ven. UN DETALLE MÁS: To avoid amibiguity, Spanish sometimes adds expressions such as uno a otro (each other) mutuamente (mutually), etc. Se aman uno a otro.
In the active voice, the subject acts (often upon an object). The man opens the door. In the passive voice, the subject is acted upon. The door is open. For NOW, we’re talking about Spanish passive voice sentences where the “doer” is not stated—these sentences use “se”.
If the subject of a passive sentences is a THING and the agent is NOT expressed in the sentence, then the third person singular/plural of the reflexive verb is used to express a passive act in Spanish (use “se”). Se habla español. Spanish is spoken here. Se venden coches de segunda mano. Secondhand cars are sold.
In these sentences, the subjects are things, and the agent (who speaks the Spanish or sells the cars) is not specified. Therefore, the third person reflexive (se) is used. Notice also that in these sentences, the subject usually follows the verb, and the verb agrees with the subject: (Se venden coches).
1. “Se” is used with the third person singular of the verb in order to express an indefinite subject (one, people, we, they, you, etc.): Se come bien en este restaurante. Note: You can also use the third person plural OR “uno” with “se” of the verb to make these kinds of impersonal statements: Dicen que (or se dice que or uno se dice que) la Universidad de Valencia es una de las mejores universidades.
2. “Se” is used to express an action that occurred or occurs unintentionally, especially if the “doer” would prefer not to be responsible. In all such cases, the Spanish contruction stresses the fact that the action was unintentional or accidental. Construction: Se + IOP + Verb + Subject Se me perdió el libro. My book got lost.
Se les rompieron los anteojos. His glasses broke. Se te olvidó la respuesta. You forgot the answer. Se les cae la pelota. They drop the ball. Se le dejó caer la mantequilla de mani. He dropped the peanut butter (the peanut butter dropped).