Friday, July 16, 2010

Another Use of Object Pronouns - Unplanned Situations (EXPERT MATERIAL)

OK, for this topic you might have to put your thinking caps on. There is a verb set that includes indirect object pronouns that are converted to fit the object of the sentence, and not the subject. Usually in Spanish, the subject pronoun (yo, tú, él, etc.) conjugates the verb in its correct manifestation. But now, we are going to see how to formulate an expression of unplanned occurrences.

There is a small list of verbs that in all respect is very static (i.e. it doesn't change, and there are no other verbs that follow this pattern.) They are manipulated in such a weird way due to their common utilization in the language. You MUST memorize the verbs and when to use them for maximum effect.

The verb formula for "to drop" is caérsele. This might look familiar to the reflexive infinitive caerse, which means "to fall down" or "to be fallen". Incidentally, if you really don't understand the reflexive verb format, then you probably should master that concept prior to continuing with this one.

Spanish speakers use the caérsele format to state that they have accidentally dropped something, which usually can account for being an unplanned occuurrence or situation. So let's say I dropped some enchiladas. Why do I keep talking about enchiladas? Because they are sabrosas. I will give you the correct way to say this, followed by a dissection of its parts.

¡Se me cayeron las enchiladas! I dropped the enchiladas!

The se construction is associated with the conjugated verb cayeron, and is conjugated by the new subject "las enchiladas" (mmmm). Weirdly, if we left the me out of the sentence and simply said "Se cayeron las enchiladas", the sentence would translate as "The enchiladas were fallen" or "The enchiladas were dropped". But by whom? This is where the direct object pronoun me comes in. The direct object pronouns in these odd sentence structures acts as a "possessor" of sorts of the object in question. Thus, me can almost refer to "I".

If I said YOU dropped the enchiladas, then I would rewrite the sentence as follows:

Se te cayeron las enchiladas. You dropped the enchiladas.

Literally, this translates as "The enchiladas were dropped for/to you.". Weird.

The limited vocabulary list, in addition to caérsele is as follows. I will give an example sentence below each of the verbs.

acabársele to run out of (something)

Se me acabó la mantequilla de cacahuete. I ran out of peanut butter.

ocurrírsele to dawn on, get the idea of

¿Se te ocurre comer allá en ese restaurante? Are you getting the idea to eat at that restaurant?

olvidársele to forget

Se le olvidó estudiar para el examen. He forgot to study for the test.

perdérsele to lose

Ayer se me perdió mi tarjeta de crédito. Yesterday I lost my credit card.

quedársele to leave something behind

¡Se nos quedaron nuestros pasaportes! We left behind our passports!

rompérsele to break

¿Se te rompió el brazo? Did you break your arm?

Notice that in every situation, the reflexivity is all based in the third person, whether it be singular or plural. Learn this topic extremely well, and then you might as well call yourself fluent in Spanish! Maybe....

¡Sigue estudiando!

Professor Joel

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