Se me rompi贸 la radio = My radio broke?

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In one of his posts Lazarus says Se me rompió la radio = My radio broke. I thought it was passive i thought it translated to The radio broke on me (of course not literally broke "on" me) as a way to deflect the blame and instead of saying Yo rompí la radio. I doubt Lazarus made a mistake but I am still curious as to why this translated that way.

Here is the thread 3rd post
http://www.spanishdict.com/answers/show/7876/

6363 views
updated SEP 7, 2009
posted by ravensty

7 Answers

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Sorry that I answer first (maybe you want a different point of view).

"La radio se rompió" is using that SE because we are not interested in who broke the radio; maybe it just broke, without any external help. Only in very unusual sentences we can modify the meaning by adding a purpose: "La radio se rompió para usarla en una película" = The radio was broken (on purpose) to use it for a movie.

That indirect object pronoun, "me", more versatile than in English, indicates who receives the physical or emotional impact of the outcome of the action. So, yes, "It broke on me" would be an acceptable translation, although in English possessives are preferred (unlike in Spanish, where object pronouns are preferred): My radio broke. However, if it is not your radio, but it broke while you were using it, "The radio broke on me" will be a more suitable option, I think. Here, you might even want to say "Se me rompió tu radio", if you want to specify.

updated SEP 6, 2009
posted by lazarus1907
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"Se me rompió la radio", does the "se" mean anything? La radio is the subject. Rompió is the verb. Me is the indirect object. But what grammatical function does se have?

I'll understand if there's no good explanation. It's hard to explain "there" in our "there is/are" construction. Languages are rife with "that's just the way it is" type things.

Lazarus has another tutorial somewhere that talks about the use of "se" to make transitive verbs intransitive. Basically, "romper" alone is transitive, meaning it must have a direct object. "La radio rompió" would be like an incomplete thought. "The radio broke... what?" Since you are using the transitive form in that sentence, you would need to have a direct object. If you instead say "La radio se rompió", your "problem" is solved. Now, the radio is not breaking other things, it is just being broken.

It works the same way with verbs like "quemar" (to burn) or "hundir" (to sink).

"La casa quemó". (The house burnt.... what? You need a direct object if you use the transitive form. What is the house burning? Other houses?) "La casa se quemó." (The house burnt. Simple. It's not burning other things, it's just burning.)

"El barco hundió" (The ship sank... what? You need a direct object if you use the transitive form. What is the boat sinking? Other boats?) "El barco se hundió" (The ship sank. Simple. It's not sinking other things, it's just sinking).

Those examples are basically straight from Lazarus' tutorial, from what I can remember. (All Rights Reserved for Lazarus, haha smile )

Here's the link: Lazarus and Uses of "Se"

The use that I'm talking about can be found in the third "answer".

updated SEP 7, 2009
posted by Nick-Cortina
Thanks. (But I think you mean #2, not #3)
Hmm... I thought it was the third answer. There are two respones before Lazarus' continuation. One from Kathleen and one from Daniel.
Oh, you are referring to the posts...nevermind.
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"Se me rompió la radio" and "La radio se me rompió"? I mean, is there any reason to choose one word order over the other?

Hmm... well, those are the same sentences, just different word order. Let's wait for a native to see if there is really any different meaning between putting the subject first or last in the sentence. I believe putting "la radio" first puts more emphasis on the fact that the radio is being broken, and putting it last puts more emphasis on the fact that it's broken. I'm not sure though.

updated SEP 7, 2009
posted by Nick-Cortina
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Okay, then a second question: is there any difference at all between "Se me rompió la radio" and "La radio se me rompió"? I mean, is there any reason to choose one word order over the other?

The reason I ask is that the "Se me rompió la radio" is given as an alternative way to translate the passive voice (and not just at this site, either). So, I wondered whether starting the sentence with "se" made the sentence seem just a tad more impersonal than starting it with "la radio"...or perhaps it doesn't matter at all.

updated SEP 7, 2009
posted by webdunce
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In "Se me rompió la radio", does the "se" mean anything? La radio is the subject. Rompió is the verb. Me is the indirect object. But what grammatical function does se have? Is it a reflexive of la radio (in which case, it is "itself")? Or is it something else?

I'll understand if there's no good explanation. It's hard to explain "there" in our "there is/are" construction. Languages are rife with "that's just the way it is" type things.

updated SEP 7, 2009
edited by webdunce
posted by webdunce
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You said spanish favored object pronouns are preferred. So you wouldn't say ,mi radio se rompió you would say se me rompió la radio?

Although both options are grammatically correct, most natives would probably be spontaneously inclined to use the second one ("se me rompió"). Like with the use of the personal pronouns (yo, tú,...), possessives are used to make contrasts, so I'd use the first sentence in a situation like this:

Tu radio aún funciona, pero mi radio se rompió.

Here, I'm establishing a contrast between "your" radio and "mi" radio, so it sounds perfectly natural. However, without this contrast, it strikes a little bit if you say "mi" without any justification. It is like "What so much emphasis on YOUR radio, if you are the only involved in the whole scene'". Funny enough, if I said:

Tu radio aún funciona, pero se me rompió la radio. (''')

It would sound even weird too, because I start talking about you, then I say "but...", and when I am about to provide the other side of the story... (i.e. the contrast), I just talk about myself, ignoring YOUR radio altogether. Here, "mi radio" would be almost necessary.

updated JUN 4, 2009
posted by lazarus1907
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You said spanish favored object pronouns are preferred. So you wouldn't say ,mi radio se rompió you would say se me rompió la radio'

updated JUN 4, 2009
posted by ravensty