Pronouns vs. articles for body parts

1
vote

Hello, I'm learning that articles are used for body parts instead of a pronoun.

Example: Juan se lava la cara = Juan washes HIS face.

Is this the case across all the boards? What if I say -

My hands are tired. Is it Los manos instead of mis manos?

Or - I want to feel your lips on my cheek?

Are there exceptions to the rule? Because this seems strange to me!

Thanks!

6287 views
updated AGO 7, 2017
posted by Erin

7 Answers

1
vote

I agree! This is case where you want to use the possesive (also, there is no pronoun to help understanding the sentence).

updated AGO 7, 2017
posted by lazarus1907
1
vote

doing what to who's whose cheeks

No, because there are two ways that could be interpreted.

"I want to feel my own lips on your cheek."
"I want to feel your lips on my cheek."

Neither of the above is implausible.

updated AGO 7, 2017
posted by 00bacfba
1
vote

Mis manos están cansadas

The sentence is not incorrect, but I would have said instead:

Tengo las manos cansadas.

As James said, the general preference is to use atonic pronouns instead of possessives, unless there is no better alternative, or the sentence is ambiguous. However, if the pronoun is already indicating the relationship, the possessive will almost certainly sound wrong.

The possessive is more common when the part of the body is the subject of the sentence, for obvious reasons.

updated AGO 7, 2017
posted by lazarus1907
1
vote

Los Las manos

The article is generally used when there is a marker (me, te, le, etc.) to indicate the person.

Me duele la cabeza.

But the possessive form is also used frequently with body parts.

Mis dedos son más grandes que los tuyos.

Your sentences:

Mis manos están cansadas
Quiero sentir tus labios en mi mejilla

updated AGO 7, 2017
posted by 00bacfba
0
votes

So..... If I say to a guy "I want to feel your lips on my cheek."

I can say "quiero sentir los labios en la mejilla".

Since it's obvious who's lips are doing what to who's cheeks'!

updated JUN 23, 2008
posted by Erin
0
votes

Yes, that does sound more natural.

I think that if the context makes the ownership clear, the article can be used even without any marker.

  • ¿Por qué has dejado de cavar?
  • Porque las manos están cansadas.

Correct'

updated JUN 23, 2008
posted by 00bacfba
0
votes

Ahh this makes perfect sense. Thank you so much! ps. Las manos - dang it - I did know that! jaja.

updated JUN 23, 2008
posted by Erin