como/me como una manzana

mojojomo

New Member
English
I have noticed that the reflexive is often used in ways that, for me at least, seem to defy logic. For example:

Como una manzana
vs.
Me como una manzana

What is the reason for using the reflexive here? is it just to add a bit of punch? to relate it more to how that apple will affect me and my emotional state? I have noticed that spanish has a tendency to be molded by emotions.

If my understanding is correct, I can grasp that. But there are other uses that confuse me completely. For example: a person can simply point to a cuy (guinea pig) and say "se come" and this is to mean that people eat that animal. This however, to me, translate to "it eats itself" and how that means "people eat that" eludes me.

I've looked on websites and whatnot for answers to this but seem to only find basic usage rules, not the concepts that determine how spanish speakers talk. This is for me the thing that I need to understand in order to consistantly use everything more correctly, and more importantly, understand how my partners in communication are thinking, what they are actually saying...

Could anyone describe in greater detail what meaning the reflexive is adding to the message and why it is included?
 
  • TheCrociato91

    Senior Member
    Italian - Northern Italy
    Hi.

    Me como una manzana
    This is called "dativo ético" or "dativo de interés". You can have a look at the existing threads here while we wait for more expert users to provide accurate and thorough definitions from Spanish grammar books.

    to relate it more to how that apple will affect me and my emotional state?
    I would say this is one of the main reasons.

    Other examples (taken from: Duda resuelta: Dativos éticos)

    Se me cayó el bebé. vs. Se cayó el bebé.

    Me lo han matado.
    vs. Lo han matado.

    No me come este chiquillo
    . vs. No come este chiquillo.

    For example: a person can simply point to a cuy (guinea pig) and say "se come" and this is to mean that people eat that animal. This however, to me, translate to "it eats itself" and how that means "people eat that" eludes me.
    The pronoun "se" can have multiple functions.

    The sentence "se come" could mean both "it eats itself" (although adding "a sí mismo/os/a/as" would probably be more natural and would also disambiguate the meaning) and "you/people can eat it", "it can be eaten". This depends on whether the particle "se" has a reflexive/pronominal* function (as in the former sentence) or an impersonal function (as in the latter).

    * There's a difference between reflexive and pronominal (which older grammars used to lump into a single category) but I don't know the terminology well enough to explain it to you. That said, other users will surely be able to provide you with valuable information.
     
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    Rocko!

    Senior Member
    Español - México
    There is some "willness" in "me como una manzana".
    There is no willness in "(el cuy) se come" ("cuys are edibles").
     
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    Circunflejo

    Senior Member
    Castellano de Castilla
    is it just to add a bit of punch?
    In my opinion, basically, yes. It's used to intensify the verb; to underline it.

    For example: a person can simply point to a cuy (guinea pig) and say "se come" and this is to mean that people eat that animal. This however, to me, translate to "it eats itself" and how that means "people eat that" eludes me.
    Look online for "usos de se" and you'll discover all the different uses that it has in Spanish. There are many of them. Some of them are shared by me, te, nos and os so it'll also help you to understand better the apple example.
     

    dragonbones

    Member
    English US
    My impression (as a semi-2nd language speaker of Spanish) is that the reflexive is just a colloquialism like some we have in English. For instance, ‘(Creo que) me comeré una manzana’ is a bit like saying ‘(I think) I’ll have myself an apple’. One shouldn't try to hard to apply logic in such cases; just roll with it.
     

    Doraemon-

    Senior Member
    "Spanish - Spain" "Catalan - Valencia"
    There is some "willness" in "me como una manzana".
    There is no willness in "(el cuy) se come" ("cuys are edibles").
    There is no willness in this example, but that's because it's in impersonal/refleja pasiva, not because the use of the dativo de interés which is not present there. You're talking about cuys being edible or being eaten somewhere, not that YOU are eating a cuy.
    "Como una manzana" and "me como una manzana" mean exactly the same to me. I would just guess if the speaker comes from NW Spain if he used the first one, because the second one is the most used here and in most places, but not there.
     

    Rocko!

    Senior Member
    Español - México
    There is no willness in this example
    Me sorprende.
    En "me voy", habrá voluntad (mucha) si la persona no necesita irse. Y solamente habrá ausencia de voluntad si "el irse" es una obligación o nececidad del hablante, por la causa que fuera.
     

    jsvillar

    Senior Member
    Spanish - Spain
    Yo creo que 'irse' es un verbo distinto que significa 'abandonar un lugar', no es el dativo de interés ni el reflexivo de 'ir'. En los últimos análisis sintácticos que he hecho con mis hijos a nivel de bachillerato ese tipo de 'se' que cambia el significado se asimilaba al verbo.
    En el norte de España a veces no lo dicen, y al resto nos suena raro: 'Marché' (que significa anduve) en vez de 'me marché'.
     

    Doraemon-

    Senior Member
    "Spanish - Spain" "Catalan - Valencia"
    Me sorprende.
    En "me voy", habrá voluntad (mucha) si la persona no necesita irse. Y solamente habrá ausencia de voluntad si "el irse" es una obligación o nececidad del hablante, por la causa que fuera.
    La forma pronominal irse es un caso distinto al de comer[se], como dice jsvillar. Comer tiene forma tanto pronominal como no pronominal para el mismo significado, es un caso de lo que se llama dativos superfluos (de interés...).
    Irse, en cambio, tiene un significado diferente en forma pronominal y no pronominal. Irse indica abandonar un lugar, no dirigirse a un lugar como ir (aunque lógicamente siempre vayas a algún sitio cuando te vas de otro).
    No tiene nada que ver con la voluntad. En el caso de el cuy se come este se es un se impersonal (o de pasiva refleja), no un dativo superfluo ni la forma pronominal de comer.
     

    Dymn

    Senior Member
    "Como una manzana" and "me como una manzana" mean exactly the same to me. I would just guess if the speaker comes from NW Spain if he used the first one, because the second one is the most used here and in most places, but not there.
    Exactly :thumbsup:

    The reflexive pronoun does not express any "emotionality", and it's not comparable to the "dativo ético" at all. In some cases, I'd dare say it's compulsory if you want to sound natural. If a parent wants their child to eat the vegetables, they will tell them: "¡cómete la verdura!" never "¡come la verdura!" (except in Galicia, Asturias, and so on). Although I think that generally (in other contexts) both are ok and the pronoun just adds a bit of naturality.

    Unfortunately I don't know much about this phenomenon but it happens with other verbs, like beberse, leerse, estudiarse, etc. They must be transitive and the subject must be the agent. I also think you can't use the pronoun with a singular uncountable noun without the article:

    ¿Te has bebido la cerveza? :tick: ¿Has bebido la cerveza? :tick:(both ok, but I'd prefer the first one)
    ¿Te has bebido cerveza? :cross: ¿Has bebido cerveza? :tick:
     

    MonsieurGonzalito

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    I’ll have myself an apple
    Yes, it is exactly the same phenomenon. Like "I wanna see me a flicker movie", or "I wanna eat me lots of peaches".
    Only that In Spanish is more mainstream and not confined to the substandard register of the two preceding examples.

    It is a "dativo ético" as other members have already explained. It is not an inexplicable oddity, no need to "roll with it". But, unfortunately, it is difficult to extract precise rules and it is mastered mostly through usage, as you correctly guessed.
     

    Cerros de Úbeda

    Senior Member
    UK
    Spanish - Spain (Galicia)
    I have noticed that the reflexive is often used in ways that, for me at least, seem to defy logic. For example:

    Como una manzana
    vs.
    Me como una manzana

    What is the reason for using the reflexive here? is it just to add a bit of punch?
    Yes, more or less.

    You can think of it as a kind of emphasiser.

    It just serves to underline the action. It stresses the sense of energy, quickness, urgency, willingness, determination, violence, completeness, etc, in the action.

    - Tráete la bolsa, que nos vamos a la playa.
    (= Trae la bolsa, que vamos a la playa).

    - Si te bebes un litro en un minuto, te lo pago.

    - Tienes que saberte esto bien, para aprobar.

    - Este mes hice / me hice 5 kilómetros de media diarios andando.


    The second case is different.

    You should consider it as the impersonal 'se' ('el 'se' impersonal'), that is similar to the English passive.

    It can be translated in various ways;

    1- With the passive
    2- With 'You' (in normal active affirmatives)
    3- With 'People' (We / They) (in normal active affirmatives).

    1- Cuys are / may be eaten.
    2- You eat / can eat Cuys.
    3- People (We / They) eat cuys (+ place).


    Se me cayó el bebé. vs. Se cayó el bebé.
    Los comentarios de TheCrociato están muy acertados.

    Aunque tenía una errata en esta negrita, que le he editado.


    La forma pronominal irse es un caso distinto al de comer[se], como dice jsvillar. Comer tiene forma tanto pronominal como no pronominal para el mismo significado, es un caso de lo que se llama dativos superfluos (de interés...).
    Sí, es cierto. Pero hay cierto grado de parecido.

    Hay un uso enfático (normalmente con tono exclamativo) que se parece algo:

    'Este programa es un rollazo. Me estoy aburriendo como una ostra. ¡Me voy!'


    Y también, cuando va seguido de la preposición 'a';

    'Me voy a Madrid este fin de semana. ¿Quieres venir?'


    "Como una manzana" and "me como una manzana" mean exactly the same to me. I would just guess if the speaker comes from NW Spain if he used the first one, because the second one is the most used here and in most places, but not there.
    Uhmmm... Not quite.


    This phenomenon you mention is characteristic of the local language, Galician, and has some influence in the use of Spanish - but is not the norm, I'd say.

    It is constrained to people who mostly speak Galician, generally the people from the countryside.


    In Galicia there are two languages used, Spanish, and the local language, Galician.

    Spanish is dominant in the cities, while Galician is mostly spoken in the countryside.

    Depending on the area you come from, you have more or less influence of the local language in your use of Spanish.

    So, the unusual use of the pronouns, like the omission of it in some cases, like this one you mentioned, is not so extensive as to consider it a feature of Spanish in the region.

    It is of Galician... - but that's a different story.


    Also, in other cases, it's the contrary, and there's an overuse of them ('No te me creo eso nadiña, neno...', '¡No te me vengas con cuentos, eh!?'), or their inversion ('¿Me te trajiste el pariódico ese, o t'olvidaras?', 'No me te sé nada de lo que andas a dicer...!').
     
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