1. 8Sandwich Senior Member

    USA English
    I'm reading a children's Spanish book to my little sister (we both speak English) and I'm having a hard time understanding the use of se and me in the title--Se me cayó un diente.
    I translated it loosely as My tooth fell out. I do realize caer is being used reflexively, but I still don't quite understand the use of se and me.


  2. Tacherie

    Tacherie Senior Member

    Spanish - Argentina
  3. 8Sandwich Senior Member

    USA English
    Hmmm...I'll see. Thanks for the tip!!
  4. Pitt Senior Member

    Lo veo así:

    Se me cayó un diente.

    SE es una parte del verbo pronominal intransitivo caerse: no tiene ninguna función sintáctica. ME es un complemento indirecto.

    ¡A ver que dicen los nativos!

  5. emartinp

    emartinp Senior Member

    Spain Spanish
    Creo que Pitt tiene razón: el verbo es caerSE y el pronombre ME indica la persona a la que se le cayó el diente.
    En el colegio se estudian los distintos valores del pronombre SE en español. A veces forma parte del verbo, como en el caso de CAERSE.
    No he leido el limk que indica Tacherie. Tal vez sea interesante.

    Un saludo.
  6. Perrako New Member

    English - American
    Otro modo de verlo es como una frase idiomática. A veces, para decir "I lost a book", se dice "Se me perdió un libro." Significa, literalmente, "The book went and lost itself on me." Yo leería "se me cayó un diente" similarmente.

    Pero esto es como me fue explicado -- hace sentido a ustedes que hablen español nativamente?
  7. 8Sandwich Senior Member

    USA English
    Ok, I'm still having a hard time with this. I'm kind of getting the "me," but not the "se." Se is used for sooooooo many things!! :confused:

    I looked at the other thread from the link, but as I'm not advanced in Spanish, I'm having a hard time translating it all. I'm getting only bits and pieces.

    Thanks guys for helping me out, though!!

    ¡Muchas gracias!
  8. Tacherie

    Tacherie Senior Member

    Spanish - Argentina
    Here it goes (forgive my English):

    About the use of "me", you only should know that there is no grammatical reason for it to be there, and it could be dropped without changing the meaning. The "me" is only used by speakers to sort of stress that te person or thing undergoing the action is theirs... more or less. It's generally called DATIVO DE INTERÉS, but there are many sub-types.

    I copied the rules for the use of caer v. caerse below. It basically says that you use caer + se when you are thinking about the action happening in a specific point in time.

    2 Notas de uso
    Se usa exclusivamente «caer» y no «caerse», cuando no existe un momento preciso de desprendimiento o no se piensa en él, o se piensa especialmente en el movimiento durante la caída o en el sitio en que la caída termina: ‘La lluvia cae de las nubes. Los cuerpos caen con movimiento acelerado. Ha caído un aerolito al mar’. En casi todos los casos en que no se dan esas circunstancias, pueden usarse indistintamente ambas formas, aunque es más frecuente el empleo de la pronominal: ‘La fruta [se] cae por demasiado madura’. Se dice «caer las hojas», refiriéndose al fenómeno otoñal; pero se dice ‘se están cayendo todas las hojas del rosal’. Se emplea exclusivamente la forma «caerse» cuando se piensa especialmente en el momento, la causa o el lugar del desprendimiento, o la caída es brusca o instantánea: ‘Se han caído todas las naranjas del árbol. Se cayó el cuadro’.

    (from: María Moliner, Diccionario de uso del español)

  9. mhp Senior Member

    American English
    Se me cayó el libro
    Se le olvidó traerlo
    Se nos occurió una idea.

    This is a fixed structure that is used with many verbs in Spanish. Grammatically, ‘el libro’, ‘traerlo’and ‘una idea’ are subjects of these sentences. However semantically, that can be misleading.

    Semantically, the thing that performs the action of the verb can be either the grammatical subject or it can be what is referenced by the indirect object pronoun. The semantic function of SE in this structure is to indicate that the action of the verb is involuntary.

    The indirect object pronoun in this type of sentence can be a reference to:

    1) The agent that possesses the object: Se me cayó un diente. ‘Me’ indicates that it was my tooth.
    2) The agent that performs the action of the verb: Se me cayó el libro. ‘Me’ indicates who dropped the book accidentally.
    3) The agent that receives the action of the verb: Se me cayó el café encima. ‘Me’ indicates on whom the coffee fell.

    More than one interpretation at a time is possible depending on context. For example, in “Se me cayó el libro”, ‘me’ can be a reference to both the owner of the book and the person who dropped the book: I dropped the book, or I dropped my book. I stress that SE indicates that the action of the verb is involuntary.
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2008
  10. Arrius

    Arrius Senior Member

    English, UK
    It seems to me that the me in se me cayó un diente is a perpetuation of what is known in Latin grammar (Spanish being arguably the Romance language closest to Latin) as the Dative of Disadvantage.
  11. baz259 Senior Member

    english england
    Hi, after reading this thread and so so many others here on the same subject and scouring the net. I still can’t find anybody who can explain or even knows the many uses of SE.
    Surely there must be someone or somewhere for us not so bright people to go so as we can learn it’s use.
  12. mhp Senior Member

    American English

    The use of SE in this thread is discussed in section 8: SE Accidental.

  13. Ynez Senior Member

    I think these uses of "se me" can only be learnt as idiomatic sentences (the way you did). It is interesting to have a look at the grammar explanations behind, but I don't think that is needed. In fact, we -spanish speakers- don't know the grammar explanation. ;)
  14. 8Sandwich Senior Member

    USA English
    Great answer, mhp. I always like to see your answers.

    Ha, ha, Ynez. Yes, English tends to present problems, too.

    I am now getting the whole se me idea. I need some more practice, but this is quite a bit to help me get the point. (Thanks to you too, Tacherie!)

    I appreciate it, guys!!
    ¡Muchas gracias!
  15. sun-and-happiness Senior Member

    Se le olvidó traerlo

    ¿Por qué no has utilizado "lo" aqui? ¿No es un complemento directo? Gracias.
  16. Emeté Senior Member

    Cartagena, Spain
    Spanish - Spain
    Porque no es un complemento directo, sino indirecto: A él se le olvidó traerlo
  17. Ynez Senior Member

    Olvidársele (a alguien) hacer algo

    El otro día se me olvidó decírtelo
    Se le olvidó preguntárselo
    Se nos olvidó comprobarlo
    Que no se te olvide traerlo
    No, a ella no se le olvidará hacerlo
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2009

Share This Page