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Thread: Tenía alto el colesterol

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    Tenía alto el colesterol

    He encontrado esta frase en un libro sobre español para médicos:
    "¿Tenía alto el colesterol?"
    El libro dice que esta quiere decir "Have you had (o: Did you have ...) high cholesterol?" pero no he encontrado una construción parecida en español antes.

    ¿Puede alguien explicarme la construcción de esta frase?

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    Re: ¿Tenía alto el colesterol?

    I don't know if this will help, but let me rephrase the sentence:

    "¿Tenia usted el colesterol alto?"
    Mientras el asno está echado, no puede estar levantado. (Timoneda)

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    Re: ¿Tenía alto el colesterol?

    I know that word order in Spanish is not always rigid, but this is not a situation in which I expected to find the adjective before the noun, and I'm not sure about the presence of the article.
    Why not:
    ¿Tenía colesterol alto?

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    Re: ¿Tenía alto el colesterol?

    "¿Tenía alto el colesterol?"
    "¿Tenía alto el azúcar?"
    "¿Tenía alta la bilirrubina?"

    Completamente normales con artículo. Y con el adjetivo detrás, también.
    FAVSTA DIES TIBI ILLVCEAT

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    Re: ¿Tenía alto el colesterol?

    Gracias. Creo que cuanto más estudio cuanto menos entiendo.

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    Re: ¿Tenía alto el colesterol?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Osler View Post
    Gracias. Creo que cuanto más estudio cuanto menos entiendo.
    Ánimo.
    FAVSTA DIES TIBI ILLVCEAT

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    Re: ¿Tenía alto el colesterol?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Osler View Post
    I'm not sure about the presence of the article.
    Why not:
    ¿Tenía colesterol alto?
    I see two alternatives (not to say that there aren't others, but these are the two that I see):

    1. Nouns that are used to represent all of the things referred to (such as all wine) use the definite article. Thus, me gusta el vino.(I like wine [in general].) This applies even if the noun is modified by an adjective or adjectival phrase: no me gusta el vino tinto. (I don't like red wine.)

    This seems unlikely to me because the question is not referring to cholesterol in general but to someone's specific cholesterol.

    2. This leads me to the other alternative, which is that the definite article is used with parts of the body, and technically speaking, your cholesterol, blood sugar, and bilirubin are parts of your body.

    I would welcome resolution of this mystery by a native speaker or other expert.

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    Re: Tenía alto el colesterol

    "Tenía el colesterol alto" = "Tenía alto el colesterol" - They mean exactly the same thing and both are correct and used.
    Por favor, siéntete con libertad de corregir mi inglés y mi español.

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    Re: Tenía alto el colesterol

    Quote Originally Posted by micafe View Post
    "Tenía el colesterol alto" = "Tenía alto el colesterol" - They mean exactly the same thing and both are correct and used.
    ¿Solo se usa con el artículo? ¿No puede decir "Tenía alto colesterol" o "Tenía colesterol alto"?

    A veces el uso de los artículos me deja confundido, casi tanto como el subjuntivo.

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    Re: Tenía alto el colesterol

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Osler View Post
    ¿Solo se usa con el artículo? ¿No puede decir "Tenía alto colesterol" o "Tenía colesterol alto"?

    A veces el uso de los artículos me deja confundido, casi tanto como el subjuntivo.
    Sí se usa sin artículo: "Pedro tiene colesterol alto". En este caso "alto" es el adjetivo inmeadito que está modificando a "colesterol". Por eso no se dice "Pedro tiene alto colesterol"

    It's like when you say in English: "He had a bench painted" vs. "He had a painted bench". The sentences are not the same. The same thing happens in Spanish.

    EDIT: Sorry I changed languages. I do it inadvertently
    2nd EDIT: fixing typo
    Last edited by micafe; 11th December 2012 at 3:43 AM.
    Por favor, siéntete con libertad de corregir mi inglés y mi español.

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    Re: Tenía alto el colesterol

    Quote Originally Posted by micafe View Post
    Sí se usa sin artículo: "Pedro tiene colesterol alto". En este caso "alto" es el adjetivo inmedito que está modificando a "colesterol". Por eso no se dice "Pedro tiene alto colesterol"

    It's like when you say in English: "He had a bench painted" vs. "He had a painted bench". The sentences are not the same. The same thing happens in Spanish.

    EDIT: Sorry I changed languages. I do it inadvertently
    Actually, I think I needed to change back to English. Sometimes my attempts at meta-language (like grammar questions) in Spanish get very muddled very quickly.
    Let me see if I have this straight:
    "Pedro tiene colesterol alto" is OK because "alto" is the adjective in its usual location immediately after the noun.
    "Pedro tiene alto colesterol" is NOT OK because "alto" is not one of the adjectives that is typically used before the noun.
    So far so good?

    That leaves a couple of questions (at least):

    What does "inmedito" mean? I could not find it in my dictionary.

    What is "alto" in "Pedro tiene alto el colesterol"? Is it not an adjective modifying "colesterol"? And if so why is it OK with the intervening article but not without the article?

    Please excuse my obtuseness.

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    Re: Tenía alto el colesterol

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Osler View Post
    Actually, I think I needed to change back to English. Sometimes my attempts at meta-language (like grammar questions) in Spanish get very muddled very quickly. Ok. Happens to me in English
    Let me see if I have this straight:
    "Pedro tiene colesterol alto" is OK because "alto" is the adjective in its usual location immediately after the noun.
    "Pedro tiene alto colesterol" is NOT OK because "alto" is not one of the adjectives that is typically used before the noun.
    So far so good? Yes

    That leaves a couple of questions (at least):

    What does "inmedito" mean? I could not find it in my dictionary. Nothing. It was a typo, I fixed it. I meant "inmediato". Sorry about that..

    What is "alto" in "Pedro tiene alto el colesterol"? Is it not an adjective modifying "colesterol"? And if so why is it OK with the intervening article but not without the article?

    Please excuse my obtuseness.
    I'm not a grammar expert but I believe that "alto" is still an adjective but it's working as a predicative adjective as opposed to an attributive adjective.

    Sorry if this isn't making sense. I understand it myself but it's difficult to explain..

    I don't know why it uses the article. We usually say it like that: "Juan tiene alta el azúcar" = "Juan tiene el azúcar alta"
    Por favor, siéntete con libertad de corregir mi inglés y mi español.

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    Re: Tenía alto el colesterol

    You can use other alternatives :

    ¿Tenía elevado el colesterol?
    ¿Tenía aumentado elcolesterol?

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    Re: Tenía alto el colesterol

    I am going to make a guess here as to the meaning with the article (el) omitted:

    "Pedro tiene colesterol alto" = Pedro has high cholesterol.

    "Tenía el colesterol alto" OR "Tenía alto el colesterol" = Pedro's cholesterol is high.

    [Edit: "is high" should be "was high"]

    Right? Wrong?
    Last edited by RicardoElAbogado; 11th December 2012 at 6:35 AM.

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    Re: Tenía alto el colesterol

    Quote Originally Posted by RicardoElAbogado View Post
    I am going to make a guess here as to the meaning with the article (el) omitted:

    "Pedro tiene colesterol alto" = Pedro has high cholesterol.

    "Tenía el colesterol alto" OR "Tenía alto el colesterol" = Pedro's cholesterol is high.

    Right? Wrong?
    Wrong. "Pedro's cholesterol is high" = "El colesterol de Pedro está alto"

    Of course all of those sentences have the same meaning: Poor Pedro is about to have a heart attack...
    Por favor, siéntete con libertad de corregir mi inglés y mi español.

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    Re: Tenía alto el colesterol

    Quote Originally Posted by micafe View Post
    Of course all of those sentences have the same meaning: Poor Pedro is about to have a heart attack...
    Maybe not. Maybe Pedro just has a Lipitor deficiency.

    OK, I'm going to go WAY out on a limb here. I'm NOT a grammarian, so I'm in over my head. That said:
    I don't think that "alto" in "Pedro tiene alto el colesterol" is a predicate adjective. From what I understand that would require a copulative use of "tener" and I have not seen such a use in my dictionary. In any event, predicate adjectives generally refer to the subject, not an object noun. Correct? "Alto" could be a predicate adjective in something like: "Está alto el colesterol de Pedro." but that's a different sentence.

    So, as best I can tell, "Pedro tiene alto el colesterol", "Pedro tiene el colesterol alto" and "Pedro tiene colesterol alto" seem to mean basically the same thing, and in each case "alto" is an adjective modifying "colesterol". Correct?

    juan082937 and micafe are both native Spanish speakers, and they think the tener más adjetivo más articulo más nombre works perfectly well. I defer to their knowledge; however, since this construction is completely new to me, it makes me wonder:
    Would one say "Raul construyó roja la casa?" instead of "Raul construyó la casa roja"? My guess is that the first form is wrong and the second is correct.

    In other words: Is this construction (verbo más adjetivo más articulo más nombre) unique to "tener" or perhaps other specific verbs?

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    Re: Tenía alto el colesterol

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Osler View Post
    Maybe not. Maybe Pedro just has a Lipitor deficiency.

    OK, I'm going to go WAY out on a limb here. I'm NOT a grammarian, so I'm in over my head. That said:
    I don't think that "alto" in "Pedro tiene alto el colesterol" is a predicate adjective. From what I understand that would require a copulative use of "tener" and I have not seen such a use in my dictionary. In any event, predicate adjectives generally refer to the subject, not an object noun. Correct? "Alto" could be a predicate adjective in something like: "Está alto el colesterol de Pedro." but that's a different sentence.

    So, as best I can tell, "Pedro tiene alto el colesterol", "Pedro tiene el colesterol alto" and "Pedro tiene colesterol alto" seem to mean basically the same thing, and in each case "alto" is an adjective modifying "colesterol". Correct?

    juan082937 and micafe are both native Spanish speakers, and they think the tener más adjetivo más articulo más nombre works perfectly well. I defer to their knowledge; however, since this construction is completely new to me, it makes me wonder:
    Would one say "Raul construyó roja la casa?" instead of "Raul construyó la casa roja"? My guess is that the first form is wrong and the second is correct.

    In other words: Is this construction (verbo más adjetivo más articulo más nombre) unique to "tener" or perhaps other specific verbs?
    When an adjective (alto) comes before the noun (colesterol), the adjective acquires greater importance; this way, we focus attention on the "status" of the cholesterol, that it is high. Before the noun, the adjective is subjective; it has descriptive force; tiene un valor más expresivo. Orally, we tend to stress the adjective when it comes before the noun: tiene alto el colesterol. Following the noun, the adjective is objective, with less expressiveness: Tiene el colesterol alto. Something similar happens in English, in a more formidable opponent, "formidable" carries more descriptive force when placed before the noun; after the noun, it is rather objective (an opponent more formidable).

    Not all adjectives can behave this way. "Roja" is rather objective; something either is or isn't red, which is why it sounds odd before the noun. It makes more sense after the noun, to depict something that is objective: Raúl construyó la casa roja. A different, more subjective adjective would work: Raúl construyó una gran casa de madera. Subjective, because "gran" is in the eye of the beholder.
    Cheers

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    Re: Tenía alto el colesterol

    Quote Originally Posted by SevenDays View Post
    When an adjective (alto) comes before the noun (colesterol), the adjective acquires greater importance; this way, we focus attention on the "status" of the cholesterol, that it is high. Before the noun, the adjective is subjective; it has descriptive force; tiene un valor más expresivo. Orally, we tend to stress the adjective when it comes before the noun: tiene alto el colesterol. Following the noun, the adjective is objective, with less expressiveness: Tiene el colesterol alto. Something similar happens in English, in a more formidable opponent, "formidable" carries more descriptive force when placed before the noun; after the noun, it is rather objective (an opponent more formidable).

    Not all adjectives can behave this way. "Roja" is rather objective; something either is or isn't red, which is why it sounds odd before the noun. It makes more sense after the noun, to depict something that is objective: Raúl construyó la casa roja. A different, more subjective adjective would work: Raúl construyó una gran casa de madera. Subjective, because "gran" is in the eye of the beholder.
    Cheers
    Thanks for that reminder. I do understand that non-restrictive adjectives sometimes can precede the noun, and that some of them have different meanings depending on their location.
    What still puzzles me here is the insertion of the article between the adjective and the noun.
    "Pedro tiene alto el colesterol" instead of "Pedro tiene alto colesterol" or perhaps "Pedro tiene el alto colesterol" is what I find most puzzling here. When I read about adjective/noun order/placement in Butt & Benjamin (Section 4.11) ALL of the examples that place the adjective first (Section 4.11.3) follow the order article+adjective(s)+noun. I don't recall seeing the adjective+article+noun sequence elsewhere, which is why I am trying to sort this out.
    Unless I missed something, all of the examples of the adjective+article+noun sequence that I have seen in this thread involve the verb "tener". That makes me wonder whether this construction is only applicable to specific verbs and/or specific adjectives.
    I appreciate all the various suggestions/comments.

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    Re: Tenía alto el colesterol

    De la NGLEec
    38.7s Los verbos tener, llevar y traer (el último sobre todo en el español europeo) dan lugar a construcciones transitivas cuyos límites son difusos:

    1. CONSTRUCCIÓN DE COMPLEMENTO PREDICATIVO: Tengo listo el artículo; Llevas manchada la corbata; Me traes loco.
    2. PERÍPFRASIS DE PARTICIPIO: No tenía acabada la carrera; Solo llevo leídas las cinco primeras páginas; Traigo la lección aprendida.

    En ambas se admite la sustitución del complemento directo por un pronombre átono (Lo tengo listo; no la tenía acabada).
    ...
    About the use of the article: what is your reason not to use an article? Because you don't in English, isn't it? Well, Spanish is different. Why do you need an article in "I have read the red book" ? ("*I have read red book" doesn't really work). I don't know the reason either, but still, I know it needs an article.
    Mientras el asno está echado, no puede estar levantado. (Timoneda)

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    Re: Tenía alto el colesterol

    Quote Originally Posted by Peterdg View Post
    De la NGLEec

    About the use of the article: what is your reason not to use an article? Because you don't in English, isn't it? Well, Spanish is different. Why do you need an article in "I have read the red book" ? ("*I have read red book" doesn't really work). I don't know the reason either, but still, I know it needs an article.
    Thanks. I had not found that information about tener, llevar and traer in NGLE (I have trouble finding things there on my best days) OR in Butts & Benjamin, but it DOES explain the construction, and it matches my suspicion that the construction is used only with certain verbs. Also, now that I've seen those examples I realize that I HAVE seen this construction before - but I had forgotten. "Tengo listo ..." actually comes very close to an occasional usage in English so it probably did not register as something "different" when I heard it in Spanish.

    As for the article: I fully understand that the use of the article is different in Spanish than it is in English, which is precisely why I have kept pushing for an answer to that specific piece of this puzzle. I have found that I sometimes tend to use articles in Spanish when they are not needed but I also tend to omit them in situations that required them. It has been hard to get that straight in my head. Maybe one day it will make sense.

    Again, thank you to all.

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