I don't know what "se" means

I don't know what "se" means


Can someone please tell me what "se" means?? like the se in "se habla espanol" and the se in "veo un fax smile y se utiliza para imprimir papel"

I have been learning Spanish for over 9 months and I can't fully understand what "se" means :( i know i most likely should know what "se" means but i don't .....no one has ever told me. I would like some examples please and thank you wink

I can read Spanish fine until that blessed "se" appears and messes me up :( very frustrating indeed


updated JUN 4, 2010
posted by drummer3456

6 Answers


Hi Drummer.

The two examples you mentioned are the use of the "impersonal se," which is mostly used to make general statements and to express rules.

To form the "impersonal se," verbs are always 3rd person singular and are commonly followed by a direct object.


Se necesita que la gente protejan la Tierra. (It´s necessary that people protect the Earth.)

Se habla español aquí. (Spanish is spoken here.)

Se dice que va a llover mañana. (It´s said it is going to rain tomorrow.)

Se prohibe fumar. (Smoking is prohibited.)

No se permiten fotos aquí. (Photographs are not permitted.)

updated JUN 3, 2010
posted by --Mariana--
...gente proteja... ;) - AntMexico, JUN 3, 2010

Hey, well let me explain , you mentioned 2 different se

1st one : for example "llamarse" it's like passive there. ¿Cómo te llamas? = How are you called?

2nd : levantarse : Se levanta a las 7.. there is a se there because the one who does the action of waking up , wakes up by himself.. No one wakes him up.. But if you want to say My mother wakes me up at 7 o'clock => ** Me levanta mi madre a las 7..**

3rd: ** Se habla español en Venezuela...** it is passive there too.. The one who makes the action is unknown... Se dice así.. => It's said like this...

4th: Se me olvido decirlo!! => I forgot to say it!! * but it was not intentional..

That's all I know, I hope it'll help you!!

updated JUN 4, 2010
edited by culé
posted by culé
A mi madre me despierta y despues me levanto, my mother wakes me up and then I get up. - kenwilliams, JUN 3, 2010
Thanks but, it can't start with "A mi madre..." It needs to start with "mi madre" - culé, JUN 4, 2010
Yes I am not too sure about when the personal A is used, I know in a mi me gusta and a ti ta gusta etc. - kenwilliams, JUN 4, 2010
Typo there should have been Te not Ta. - kenwilliams, JUN 4, 2010

[Uses of "se"http://www.mepsyd.es/redele/revista3/lidia_lozano.shtml

It's in Spanish and intended for teachers of Spanish and fairly advanced speakers but it's the best treatment available.

updated JUN 3, 2010
posted by samdie

I'm polish and I'm not if i'll explain it well enough but will try smile

Generally "se" says whether the verb is reflexive or not.

lavarse = to wash oneself

yo me lavo - i wash myself

tú te lavas - you wash yourself

él se lava - he washes himself ... and so on

Lets take third person él se lava and compare it with your veo un fax y se utiliza para imprimir papel.

Now let's say that fax is él and we have veo un fax y (él) se utiliza para imprimir papel = he uses himself to print paper (more or less).

In other words we can translate "se" as "is". Is used to print = se utiliza para imprimir papel

updated JUN 3, 2010
posted by Vitgryfny
Polish... - nizhoni1, JUN 3, 2010

Se is the third person singular and plural pronoun whe used with intransive verbs like lavarse, ducharse, sentarse etc. it is also used in the passive voice e.g. No se puede fumar, smoking is not allowed here.

updated JUN 3, 2010
posted by kenwilliams

Because you've been trying to fix "se" according to your model mother tongue. Just study again and again "se" grammar lessons and try making bunches of exercises with it.

updated JUN 3, 2010
posted by AntMexico
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