Discussion in 'Spanish-English Vocabulary / Vocabulario Español-Inglés' started by everill, Oct 8, 2004.
In the question ¿Cómo se escribe? does the word se mean "it"?
Actually the word in this case is a passive construction. What you wrote can be literally translated as "How is it written?" In spanish, instead of directly changing this, such as "Como es escrito?" (forgive the lack of accents), you can instead use the third person singular form of the verb and add on the impersonal "se". It is the same way the third person reflexive verbs are formed, but in this case it is called the "impersonal se" since it can only be used in the third person. It may also be used in the plural as well, such as "Se venden libros ahi." = Books are sold there. Or, an example you may have seen many times is "Se habla espanol." = Spanish is spoken. This sounds much more natural than "Espanol es hablado."
Oh, one last bit on the impersonal "se". In English, we often use the word "you" when we don't really mean it. Such as "Well, how do you do it?" In this case, we don't really mean (most of the time) how the other person actually does it themself. Instead, what we really mean is something less personal like "How does one do it?" or "How is it done?" This passive construction is what is used in spanish most of the time. Instead of "Como lo haces?" (which could still be used), you would more likely say "Como se hace?" Hope this has been of help.
You will have noticed that "escribe" is the 3rd person singular. If you were to translate the phrase literally it would probably come out as "How does it write itself?". And you probably already know this, but it really means "How is it spelt?".
Gracias for your replies.
Could the question be translated, How "does one" write/spell it?
I agree with what Garry says. The translation would be "How is it spelled?" or, yes, the other spelling spelt. (That word looks so weird to me!) You could translate it the way you say, "how does one spell it?" That's ok. As long as you understand the passive voice, which is the construction of se+third person singular.
i thing thant "se" in than case, Point to somting that don't have person. so, we huse "se" as Unisex Word.
Separate names with a comma.