HomeQ&ASe me ha roto la muela.

Se me ha roto la muela.



Could anyone easily explain what is the purpose of "se" particle here? Can we just say "Me ha roto la muela", the same way we say "Me duele la cabeza"?

We don't say "Se me duele la cabeza", right? oh oh


updated JUL 9, 2010
posted by vanyatka

4 Answers


If you were around when Lazarus used to explain to us the multitude of purposes for using pronominal se you would recognize this as his "se rompío la radio" "the radio broke" example. (the indirect object is added just to show who is effected by the action.) Se me rompío la radio. The reasoning behind using se in this situation has been explained by several different methods showing the flexibility of pronominal meanings.

This situation has been explained as a "shifting of guilt" (away from me and the radio), detransitisizing (going from transitive to intransitive usage) going from active to passive voice, used in unforeseen events, to express the nuance of accidentally, et. al.


I broke the radio.


The radio broke.

The above situation was called the "detransitizing se". Notice that this could also be looked at as going from a active voice to a passive voice situation. The pronominal meaning of accidentally or an unforeseen event is obvious from the context.

So in this case if the non-pronominal romper was used, we would expect a transitive meaning. Someone/thing is breaking something. The tooth is breaking something or I am breaking something. Add the se and all of the sudden the tooth just broke (no one is to blame, no one broke anything). It became a passive situation. We add the i.o.p. just to show possession or who is the receiver of the verb's action.

Se me rompió la muela.

Lazarus gave us some amazingly clear reasoning of a very complex subject. I suggest you read some of his threads on the pronominal use of verbs and how it effects their meanings.

Here is a link to the article containing Se me rompío la radio. It is not in his first reply (a listing of some uses for the pronominal verb), but in the 2nd reply by him. Read it several times. Each time you read it you will get a deeper understanding.

Buena suerte.

updated JUL 9, 2010
edited by 0074b507
posted by 0074b507
This is why you are the, "Q!" Awesome reponse thanks! - 002262dd, JUL 9, 2010

I think it is used in that way when the speaker wants to denote an unintentional action and taking some of the blame...

It would translate as: "The tooth has broken on me..."

updated JUL 9, 2010
posted by luz_72
Thanks, but the latter translation can be also applied to "Me ha roto la muela" (without se). - vanyatka, JUL 9, 2010
Actually, "Me ha roto la muela" can be translated as "The tooth has broken me" :) I guess "se" - shows the reflexive nature of the verb. - vanyatka, JUL 9, 2010
yes, but that would be an active use, where the speaker takes responsibility for the action... - luz_72, JUL 9, 2010
with "se" is the passive use, where something just happened and the responsibility is partial... - luz_72, JUL 9, 2010
...at least this is how I understand it:) - luz_72, JUL 9, 2010
This is in one of Paralee's lessons, 3.12 from 9 minutes onwards. Se me rompió la tetera. :) - galsally, JUL 9, 2010

link text

See this lesson, specifically from 9 minutes onwards. (I already commented on Luz's response but then thought maybe a small comment wouldn't be noticed?)


updated JUL 9, 2010
posted by galsally

Somebody clever will be along in a minute, but my reckoning is as follows:

Romperse = Reflexive verb An example in my Dictionary gives - se rompió un brazo - he broke his arm

Therefore your example must use both pronouns to describe the fact that you have broken your tooth- it I have broken my wrist.

Open to corrections please.

updated JUL 9, 2010
edited by caza
posted by caza
Thanks caza, agree with you. In my example I used "doler" and not "dolerse". We could probably also say "Se me ha dolido el corazon". - vanyatka, JUL 9, 2010
SpanishDict is the world's most popular Spanish-English dictionary, translation, and learning website.
© Curiosity Media Inc.