aplica / se aplica


English - United States
The following text:

"It is my duty to instruct you on the law that applies in this case".

It was translated for me in the following way:

"A mí me incumbe instruirles sobre la ley que se aplica a este caso".

I am perplexed as to the usage of the reflexive se in the translation, as it appears that the orignal english text does not call for it. Why is not simply "la ley que aplica a este caso"?

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  • mjmuak

    Senior Member
    Spanish Spain (Andalusia)
    I think it's because it is not a "se reflexivo", but a "pasiva refleja": in this case "se aplica"= "es aplicada", "it is applicable", like CHileno says.



    United Staes/ Spanish and English
    Correct. It's not a reflexive "se" but a use of the passive voice.

    The law is applied, but it is unclear whom is applying it. A good example of the passive voice is "the ball is thrown." Who throws the ball?


    Senior Member
    Castellano de Chile
    The veb aplicar is transitive in Spanish so it requires a direct object.
    You can say yo aplico pintura a la pared where pintura is the direct object and pared is a non direct object of aplicar (the paint is applied to the wall). This is the normal use of the verb aplicar.
    If you say something like la ley aplica a este caso there is no direct object. What does the law apply to this case? The fix is to add a direct object which in this case is the pronoun se (itself): the law applies itself to this case.
    Ufortunately, Spanish speakers more exposed to English (because of geographical proximity or cultural influence) tend to use aplicar employing the English syntax which results in completely anomalous constructions: este ejemplo aplica para este caso; esta regla no aplica.

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    English - United States
    Wow thanks a lot aviador that was very helpful. And Thats exactly why i was confused because i have heard native spanish speakers use the verb incorrectly without the direct object. But anyway, thanks again.