HomeQ&AYa ven ustedes, con tantos líos casi se me olvidan algunos detalles.

Ya ven ustedes, con tantos líos casi se me olvidan algunos detalles.


What does "se me olvidan" mean in this sentence, can we say " con tantos líos me olvido de algunos detalles"? Thanks a lot.

updated SEP 13, 2009
edited by zhoujian
posted by zhoujian
HI zho, congratts on your always correctly put questions :) - 00494d19, SEP 13, 2009

2 Answers


There are 2 main ideas here. 1) Reflexive verbs 2) Impersonal/passive verbs:

When you say 'Me olvidé de ponerme la ropa interior' your using reflexive verb construction in both the 'me olvidé' and 'ponerme'. If you remember from your grammar lessons (offered on this website) reflexive verbs as their name suggests, refers the action back at the subject. 'Me afeito' from the verb 'afeitar(se)' meaning to shave, means I am shaving. It's reflexive because I'm shaving myself.

The other idea of impersonal/passive verbs looks pretty much like reflexive verbs in the 3rd person.

Ref. verb in 3rd person using 'afeitarse': él se afeita, he's shaving, or for the literal translationers: él está afeitándose or él se está afeitando. The thing to note here is the 3rd person reflexive pronoun 'se' in all these examples.

Going back to the idea of impersonal/passive verbs, it uses the same 'se'. Se habla español aquí means that spanish is spoken here. Imp/pass verbs basically make a given verb state something about itself. 'Hablar' means to speak. If you only conjugate it to 'habla' that could mean he, she, it spoke. It doesn't say that something is spoken. To say that something is spoken is of a impersonal, passive nature, requiring the impersonal 'se' pronoun in front of the verb. The important thing to notice is that the impersonal 'se' pronoun looks exactly like the 3rd person reflexive 'se' pronoun, but each serves a different function grammatically.

So to answer your original question about 'se me olvida': This is utilizing the impersonal 'se' in this case. Se olvida meaning that something was forgotten. The fact that something was forgotten is attributed to the 'me' pronoun. So, something was forgotten, to me. English equivalent could be, it slipped my mind.


updated SEP 13, 2009
posted by Charlius
First it was passive reflexive now it's impersonal passive. And I thought the indivudual uses were confusing! Great answer. - 0074b507, SEP 13, 2009
I almost don't want to say it, but I think the best way is to not even learn the technical names for all the grammatical functions, better to just learn the concept and learn what 'sounds right' - Charlius, SEP 13, 2009
OK wait, I retract that. In the beginning, YES learn the all the technical stuff, then when you get more advanced, then you can start relying on what 'sounds right'. - Charlius, SEP 13, 2009

I almost forget (some of the details) or more literally some of the details are nearly forgotten by me

I think the se forms the passive structure and that's why it is olvidan not olvido also the se can express accidently, completely, suddenly.

updated SEP 13, 2009
edited by 0074b507
posted by 0074b507
Thanks. - zhoujian, SEP 13, 2009
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