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gerund question

0
votes

I just studied gerunds in spanish and came across this example. In a coursebook I have "Me lavo las manos - I'm washing my hands.". If I went purely on what I've learned so far, I'd come up with something like "Estoy lavando mis manos." Is their something wrong with the second one? Or are they both correct? Thanks.

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updated MAY 30, 2010
posted by Peabody1103

16 Answers

1
vote

I just studied gerunds in spanish and came across this example. In a coursebook I have "Me lavo las manos - I'm washing my hands.". If I went purely on what I've learned so far, I'd come up with something like "Estoy lavando mis manos." Is their something wrong with the second one? Or are they both correct? Thanks.

I fail to see an English gerund being used in your examples. An English gerund is an ing form of the verb (present participle) being used as a NOUN.

You are using ** el gerundio **(SOME refer to it as the Spanish gerund; some object to that terminology), however.

But, that's almost off topic here.

The point is that Spanish uses both the present tense and the present progressive **tense to express English's usage of the present participle.
The latter construction just emphasizes that the verb action is occurring at the moment in time being considered. (it may be in the past... **estaba lavando
, but then you would compare it with the imperfect past lavaba. And here we are discussing the past progressive form, not the present progressive form)[there also exists progressive constructions for other verb tenses, future, conditional, etc.)]

An aside- did you notice that in the first example that it is las manos and in the second example that it is ** mis** manos? When there is no doubt about who's hands are being referred to, Spanish uses the definite article. If there exists ambiguity they use the possessive adjective.

Other than that pecadillo, to answer your original question, there is nothing wrong with the second one. It just has a minor, different nuance in meaning than the first.

updated FEB 10, 2012
posted by 0074b507
gfreed, I think your answer is very good except I felt it needed to come down a few levels since I have to read and re-read to really understand what you said. - foxluv, MAY 30, 2010
1
vote

I just studied gerunds in spanish and came across this example. In a coursebook I have "Me lavo las manos - I'm washing my hands.". If I went purely on what I've learned so far, I'd come up with something like "Estoy lavando mis manos." Is their something wrong with the second one? Or are they both correct? Thanks.

You could say:

Me lavo las manos.
Me estoy lavando las manos.

I don't believe it's correct to say "Estoy lavando mis manos," because (as a general rule, ignoring the exceptions for the moment) you do not use the possessive pronoun with body parts in Spanish.

updated MAY 30, 2010
posted by Natasha
0
votes

Ok, "Estoy lavando mis manos" is not incorrect, grammatically speaking; it just sounds extremely weird, because in Spanish we tend to stablish these sort of relationships even before the verb, so when you say "Me lavo...", we assume that it has to do with us, but when we say "Lavo...", we expect something or someone unrelated to us to be washed.

Me lavo las manos : Natural way
Lavo mis manos ''''!!! Do your hands not belong to you? It sounds as if you are washing a strange object that has nothing to do with you.
Lavo las manos '''? Whose hands are you talking about?

Me rompí la pierna : Natural way to say "I broke my leg (accidentally)"
Rompí mi pierna : It sounds as if it didn't belong to you, so you decided to break it: "I broke my leg (to tests its strength)".

But coming back to the original question, "Me estoy lavando las manos" would be the most common way to say that you are half way through washing your hands as you speak. "Me lavo las manos" would be more common for habitual actions, or to simply mention an action without focusing on the particular stage of development of its process.

updated MAY 30, 2010
posted by lazarus1907
lazarus, you just have a knack to get your point across, me gusta tú respuesta. - foxluv, MAY 30, 2010
0
votes

With sufficient prior context, your sentence could be, simply, "Se los dedico". (I dedicate them to him/her".). However, in many cases the context is not sufficient (or warrants reinforcement) to make clear to what "them" refers (or, similarly, the reference for "him/her"). To provide/reinforce the context, it is common in Spanish to add on phrases (by way of explanation/clarification). Thus, "Se los dedico a Maria." to clear up any possible doubts about the referent for "se". Similarly, "Se los dedico los jueves a María." (or changing the word order to emphasize "Thursdays", "Los jueves se los dedico a María") makes clear what the "los" is referring to.

updated ABR 22, 2009
posted by samdie
0
votes

I'm not sure who the 'le' refers to in your example. If it is Maria, shouldn't it be 'la'? (pero 'la dio el libro a Maria' me suena malo - hey, I'm learning!)

"Le" refers to María, and it can't be "la".

With verbs like "dar", the direct object (lo, la, los, las) is what you give, and the indirect object (le, les) is the person (or things) who receives it.

updated ABR 22, 2009
posted by lazarus1907
0
votes

Le dio el libro a María. The le (anticipatory pronoun) alerts us to look for the a María phrase for clarification of who the le refers to.

I'm not sure who the 'le' refers to in your example. If it is Maria, shouldn't it be 'la'? (pero 'la dio el libro a Maria' me suena malo - hey, I'm learning!)

updated ABR 22, 2009
posted by 00719c95
0
votes

In your case, that "me" in "los jueves, se me los dedico a mi novio" should not have been there, in my opinion. It should be:

(Le) dedico los jueves a mi novio

Los jueves (se) los dedico a mi novio

Notice how the direct object clitic "los" must be used when the direct object "los jueves" is placed before the verb. The "le" (or "se" in the second) can be omitted, although it is it is not done frequently.

I still don't understand what the 'le' in "le dedico" or the 'se' in "se los dedico" is supposed to refer to, but knowing they are optional makes me think it's just a matter of aesthetics (just like Spanish uses 'que' a lot more than English uses 'that')

I wouldn't suggest dismissing them as aesthetic. I believe they are commonly used and omitting them may make you sound poorly educated or confusing.
You might wish to search for some of Lazarus' previous comments on this redundant pronoun usage. Actually it didn't sink in for me until he introduced the terminology of referring to them as "anticipatory"
pronouns. They alert you to expect a possible ...a .i.o. clarifier phrase after the verb.

Le dio el libro a María. The le (anticipatory pronoun) alerts us to look for the a María phrase for clarification of who the le refers to.

In the "se los dedico""the los referes to Thursdays and the se is the anticipatory le [le changing to se before lo,la,las,los]
telling us to expect the "a mi novia" clarifier.

I think he ought to copyright that usage of anticipatory in this context as it really clears up why you would need a redundant pronoun.

updated ABR 22, 2009
posted by 0074b507
0
votes

Let me expand on Robert's explanation:

All these clitics, alone, are fine:

le
la
lo
las
le
les

However, when you put both together:

le lo
le la
les lo
...

The word "lelo" means halfwit, stupid, and "lela" is the same, but for women. I don't know whether this is the reason, but in any case, when both appear together, "le" and "les" change to "se":

se lo
se la
se lo
...

updated ABR 22, 2009
posted by lazarus1907
0
votes

In your case, that "me" in "los jueves, se me los dedico a mi novio" should not have been there, in my opinion. It should be:

(Le) dedico los jueves a mi novio

Los jueves (se) los dedico a mi novio

Notice how the direct object clitic "los" must be used when the direct object "los jueves" is placed before the verb. The "le" (or "se" in the second) can be omitted, although it is it is not done frequently.

I still don't understand what the 'le' in "le dedico" or the 'se' in "se los dedico" is supposed to refer to, but knowing they are optional makes me think it's just a matter of aesthetics (just like Spanish uses 'que' a lot more than English uses 'that')

As far as I know the "le" in le dedico refers to "mí novio" so you could translate it like this:
"To him I dedicate the thursdays to my boyfriend." Here the "le" is actually refering to "mí novio" and so "mí novio" is actually mentioned twice. This is why it is in brackets because it is optional.

The "se" is also refering to "mí novio" (again refering twice). Th "se" is really a "le" but for phonetic reasons gets changed.

"Los jueves se los dedico a mi novio"
"se" refers to "mí novio"
"los" refers to "los jueves"

updated ABR 22, 2009
posted by Robert-Austin
0
votes

This is the most difficult thing for me to understand about Spanish. It always seems that sentences have too many of those two-letter words ('se', 'le', 'lo'... don't know what their grammatical names are)

They are called "clitics".

Just recently I read this: "los jueves, se me los dedico a mi novio". I don't understand why it isn't simply "los jueves, los dedico a mi novio". With your explanation I above, I suppose "me los dedico" is useful to indicate who is "dedicando", but "se me ..."? What is the "se" supposed to indicate?

When the direct or indirect object appears before the verb, their corresponding clitics must be duplicated; otherwise, many confusions can arise, specially due to the fact that word order is very flexible in Spanish.

In your case, that "me" in "los jueves, se me los dedico a mi novio" should not have been there, in my opinion. It should be:

(Le) dedico los jueves a mi novio

Los jueves (se) los dedico a mi novio

Notice how the direct object clitic "los" must be used when the direct object "los jueves" is placed before the verb. The "le" (or "se" in the second) can be omitted, although it is it is not done frequently. Also, we don't use a comma like in English after "Los jueves".

Thanks, lazarus.

I felt strange about "me" used here when I was writing my previous post.

After I read your post, I don't need to post a question about the use of this "me" here.

Gracias, mi maestro por tu respuesta.

Marco

updated ABR 22, 2009
posted by Marco-T
0
votes

In your case, that "me" in "los jueves, se me los dedico a mi novio" should not have been there, in my opinion. It should be:

(Le) dedico los jueves a mi novio

Los jueves (se) los dedico a mi novio

Notice how the direct object clitic "los" must be used when the direct object "los jueves" is placed before the verb. The "le" (or "se" in the second) can be omitted, although it is it is not done frequently.

I still don't understand what the 'le' in "le dedico" or the 'se' in "se los dedico" is supposed to refer to, but knowing they are optional makes me think it's just a matter of aesthetics (just like Spanish uses 'que' a lot more than English uses 'that')

updated ABR 22, 2009
posted by 00719c95
0
votes

Just recently I read this: "los jueves, se me los dedico a mi novio". I don't understand why it isn't simply "los jueves, los dedico a mi novio". With your explanation I above, I suppose "me los dedico" is useful to indicate who is "dedicando", but "se me ..."? What is the "se" supposed to indicate?

Hi Aurino.

I think this "se" refers to "mi novio" and it could be translated to "him".

The translation would be "I spend this Thursday with my boyfriend." If you only say that "los jueves, se me los dedico", people wouldn't know whom you spend time with so "a mi novio" is needed to identify this person.

Others please correct me if I made any mistakes.

Thank you,

Marco

updated ABR 22, 2009
posted by Marco-T
0
votes

This is the most difficult thing for me to understand about Spanish. It always seems that sentences have too many of those two-letter words ('se', 'le', 'lo'... don't know what their grammatical names are)

They are called "clitics".

Just recently I read this: "los jueves, se me los dedico a mi novio". I don't understand why it isn't simply "los jueves, los dedico a mi novio". With your explanation I above, I suppose "me los dedico" is useful to indicate who is "dedicando", but "se me ..."? What is the "se" supposed to indicate?

When the direct or indirect object appears before the verb, their corresponding clitics must be duplicated; otherwise, many confusions can arise, specially due to the fact that word order is very flexible in Spanish.

In your case, that "me" in "los jueves, se me los dedico a mi novio" should not have been there, in my opinion. It should be:

(Le) dedico los jueves a mi novio
Los jueves (se) los dedico a mi novio

Notice how the direct object clitic "los" must be used when the direct object "los jueves" is placed before the verb. The "le" (or "se" in the second) can be omitted, although it is it is not done frequently. Also, we don't use a comma like in English after "Los jueves".

updated ABR 22, 2009
posted by lazarus1907
0
votes

Ok, "Estoy lavando mis manos" is not incorrect, grammatically speaking; it just sounds extremely weird, because in Spanish we tend to stablish these sort of relationships even before the verb, so when you say "Me lavo...", we assume that it has to do with us, but when we say "Lavo...", we expect something or someone unrelated to us to be washed.

This is the most difficult thing for me to understand about Spanish. It always seems that sentences have too many of those two-letter words ('se', 'le', 'lo'... don't know what their grammatical names are)

Just recently I read this: "los jueves, se me los dedico a mi novio". I don't understand why it isn't simply "los jueves, los dedico a mi novio". With your explanation I above, I suppose "me los dedico" is useful to indicate who is "dedicando", but "se me ..."? What is the "se" supposed to indicate'

updated ABR 22, 2009
posted by 00719c95
0
votes

I had thought of that right after I posted. I imagine "Lavo las manos." would get the point across as well. (Though I would have used mis manos prior to reading qfreed's post).

updated ABR 22, 2009
posted by Peabody1103
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