HomeQ&AHow do even Spanish speakers understand this stuff?

How do even Spanish speakers understand this stuff?


These are examples of exercises in a Spanish grammar book to clarify the difference between a verb that's transitive and the same verb as reflexive. The problem is trying to figure out what the apparently "simple" sentence is really saying.------

"Al jugar al escondite nosotros esconderemos a los niñitos y luego nosotros nos esconderíamos." (future tense)------

Trying to break this down is a real mess for me. First of all, the "al" jugar and the "al" escondite is, I guess, idiomatic when applied to sports or games.------

The "nosotros esconderemos" is something else. "Us we hide to the children"? "We hide the children"? And then the "nosotros no esconderíamos. "We hide ourselves"? This is not making a lot of sense.------

Another example:-----

"Daniel no tiene ganas de hacer nada. A ver si nosotros lo animamos. Vamos a invitarlos a jugar al tenis. A ver si él se anima." (present tense)-----

" Daniel doesn't feel like doing anything" "To see if we encourage him." (looks like a sentence fragment.) "We are going to invite him to play tennis." "To see if he encourage himself." (another fragment) ------

Trying to figure out the logic behind how sentences like these are put together is a real job! -----To say I need a lot more work is an understatement.

updated MAY 13, 2010
posted by wgschultz
I see. "Nosotros" is the subject. I think the problem for me was that the sentence didn't make sense. - wgschultz, MAY 13, 2010
(I didn't finish the comment) I didn't think it meant "we" would hide the little children since kids are pretty good are hiding themselves, so I tried to get some other meaning out of it. - wgschultz, MAY 13, 2010
"A ver = let's see" clears that up. - wgschultz, MAY 13, 2010
As far as "al", why twice?: Al jugar al escondite? - wgschultz, MAY 13, 2010
Thanks for the help. - wgschultz, MAY 13, 2010

3 Answers


The "nosotros esconderemos" is something else. "Us we hide to the children"?

Now you know why it's advised to not use the subject pronouns unless they are needed to avoid ambiguity.

nosotros esconderemos a los niñitos....=we will hide the little children (you do not translate the subject pronoun and then repeat it for the conjugated verb)

The "a" is not "to" in this sentence. It is the personal "a" used with direct objects that are people or domestic animals. It is not translated.

y luego nosotros nos esconderíamos=and later we would hide ourselves.

The sentence could also be written:

Al jugar al escondite esconderemos a los niñitos y nos esconderíamos. (omitting the subject pronoun nosotros) Less confusing?

It's true that it's difficult to decipher at times whether the nos pronoun is dative, accusative or reflexive. However, look at it another way, it's much easier to decide which pronoun to use because it is the same whether it's dative, reflexive, or accusative. (It only becomes tricky with the 3rd person where the dative (le, les), accusative (lo,la,los, las, léismo) and reflexive (se) are all different.

The Al jugar al escondite is not idiomatic. Al often translates to "upon" or in this case "when"...When playing hide-and-seek....

A ver=Let's see

A ver si él se anima. Let's see if he cheers up.

Vamos a invitarlos a jugar al tenis. Actually, it says "them" not him. I don't know if it's a typo or we are supposed to know who "they are" from context.

animar is probably more animate than encourage as Daniel is described as listless.

updated MAY 13, 2010
edited by 0074b507
posted by 0074b507
Brilliant answer. But your mention of dative and accusative reminds me of the 2 years I spent learning German at school, particularly a horrible table containing about 16 translations for "this". Yuk! Makes me glad I'm learning Spanish ;-) - Richard-Thomas, MAY 13, 2010
just lazy...indirect object and direct object are too long to write and i.o.p. and d.o.p. aren't always understood. - 0074b507, MAY 13, 2010

Your key to the second example that "a ver" is an idiomatic phrase for "let's see".

updated MAY 13, 2010
posted by ossen
Sorry, I didn't see your answer until I posted mine. - 0074b507, MAY 13, 2010

Think about English! We learn from when we are just in kindergarten so I am quite sure that in Spanish speaking countries they do the same thing as we do. So basically it comes natural to them to understand that kind of thing.

updated MAY 13, 2010
posted by JHMaster
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