HomeQ&AReflexive verbs...two direct objects?

Reflexive verbs...two direct objects?

1
vote

i kinda sorta understand the reflexive verb thing...I bathe myself, I wake myself, I dress myself, etc.

but, in the above examples (in english, at least), the reflexive pronoun is acting as a direct object, and the subject is, in fact, acting on itself.

but, in the case of some spanish verbs, it doesn't seem so to me. Cepillarse is one example. Cepillar is used when one is brushing other things, but Cepillarse is used, apparently, when brushing things that are a part of oneself (like one's own hair or teeth).

Me cepillo mi pelo.

to me, one is acting on the hair or teeth - not on oneself. but, i can accept that the spanish language doesn't take the same view. however, the spanish construction seems to have two direct objects, and it is that, with which i struggle.

Conceptually, i can see the "reflexiveness" of both bañarse and cepillarse. Grammatically, i understand bañarse but not cepillarse.

am i missing something fundamental? is this just something i'll have to force my english-biased brain to get over? are both me and mi pelo considered direct objects in the example i provided above (or, did i perhaps construct even the example incorrectly)?

thanks.

7646 views
updated AGO 20, 2009
posted by webdunce

3 Answers

2
votes

The reflexive pronouns used with a verb are not direct object pronouns. Don't confuse yourself.

3rd person reflexive pronouns (in general used pronominally, not just reflexively) are se (singular and plural). The 3rd person direct object pronouns are lo, la los and las.

so when you say "se afeitó" or he shaved, you use the reflexive pronoun se, not the direct object pronoun lo. There are not two direct objects.

I had the same problem that you are having after hearing reflexive verbs defined as verbs where the subject of the verb both performs the action and receives the verb's action. All of the .xxself pronouns fit well into that definition.

Then I saw examples of reflexive verb use like "se puso los zapatos". ( He put on his shoes). That didn't seem to fit the definition. The definition is accurate, but all of the beginning example that they give you with the xxxself pronouns are an over-simplification. They make it easy for the beginner to visualize the subject also receiving the action.

Spanish also uses the reflexive form for things that are distinctly yours and close to your body such as clothing and makeup. If I put clothes on myself it is reflexive. If I am dressing my son it it not. If you put on your coat it is reflexive. If you help someone on with their coat it is not. (unless viewed from their point of view). With clothes it helps to word it a little verbosely He put on [himself] his shoes. She put on [herself] her makeup.

And it starts to get more complicated when you start seeing verbs that change meaning when used reflexively. ir=to go irse =to leave, dormir=to sleep dormirse =to fall asleep acordar=to agree acordarse de=to remember.

So don't expect to see all of those xxxself pronouns used in the English translation of a reflexive Spanish sentence. And don't always expect it to always be a part of your body being discussed. I combed my hair, raised my hand, shook my head. It can also be personal objects such as clothing. It doesn't even always involve people. The shirt dried [itself] in the hot sun. The tree shuddered [itself] in the wind.

You will find that most of the rules you learn as you are beginning are oversimplifications. As you advance you see all of the exceptions and more complex aspects of the rule.

You have to learn to walk before you can run.

updated AGO 20, 2009
edited by 0074b507
posted by 0074b507
very good feedback! - tticcioni, AGO 20, 2009
it's not a direct object! that really helps! mucho gracias! - webdunce, AGO 20, 2009
1
vote

but, in the case of some spanish verbs, it doesn't seem so to me. Cepillarse is one example. Cepillar is used when one is brushing other things, but Cepillarse is used, apparently, when brushing things that are a part of oneself (like one's own hair or teeth).

Me cepillo mi pelo.

Well... we don't say "Me cepillo mi pelo", but "Me cepillo el pelo". First of all, there are no reflexive verbs. Transitive verbs can be used reflexively if the direct or indirect objects match the subject, but they can be applied to anything related to yourself, not necessarily you as a whole.

See, instead of using possesives (I brush my teeth), we indicate possession using pronouns (me).

Then I saw examples of reflexive verb use like "se puso los zapatos". ( He put on his shoes). That didn't seem to fit the definition.

Se = indirect object

los zapatos = direct object

Call it reflexive if you like it, but it is a simple direct+indirect object situation, where the one who gets the shoes on is you.

updated AGO 20, 2009
edited by lazarus1907
posted by lazarus1907
thank you. it's very helpful to know it can be an indirect object at times. - webdunce, AGO 20, 2009
se will only be an i.o. pronoun if it precedes la,las,lo,los pronouns - 0074b507, AGO 20, 2009
0
votes

se will only be an i.o. pronoun if it precedes la,las,lo,los pronouns

Not really:

Se limpia los zapatos

This "se" is an indirect object.

updated AGO 20, 2009
posted by lazarus1907
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