More questions about se

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I've been reading some children's and kids books to (hopefully) understand grammar better. I am already running into some problems though - even with really simple books.

In this sentence: "Se acerca una tortuga, y ahora sólo quedan ..."

According to my dictionary, acercarse is a relexive verb, so I understand the first part. But I thought quedar was a reflexive verb also? Why aren't two 'se's used in this sentence?

And this one: "Cuatro mariquitas se suben a un árbol."

From what I understand both subir and subirse exists as verbs. How do you know which to use to know if you need a se or not? Do you have to take the context into consideration and figure out if they are taking themselves up or if they are being taken up by something or someone?

And does that sentence mean that they come up to the tree (since the 'a' is there) or that they are going up the tree (as in climbing up)'

2465 views
updated MAY 17, 2011
posted by trisha2766

9 Answers

1
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I nominate Lazarus to publish one, and I promise to buy it and promote it whereever I can!

If someone works for me, pays my bills and my mortgage (and takes care of my daughter), I will commit myself 100% to writing one, but I am too busy for that.

Maybe we should start recruiting investors among Spanishdict.com forers to launch Lazarus's new publishing career! He's committed 100%!

Maybe Spanishdict.com could form its own publishing arm with Lazarus at the helm. cool smile

updated MAY 17, 2011
posted by hhmdirocco
I most certainly second your promotion of Lazarus's new book. It certainly is needed!
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The same is true with all of us. That is a good sign; it means you are taking note of more things that are beyond your level.

Just don't give up when the frustration monsters or overwhelming monsters attack. And they do. Keep trudging through. For many people the biggest leaps they make are immediately following times of feeling completely overwhelmed, but they've just kept going, and then it seems like a whole new realm of understanding opens up to them. That's the way it was with me, and many others have described the same thing to me.

updated MAY 17, 2011
posted by hhmdirocco
1
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In this sentence: "Se acerca una tortuga, y ahora sólo quedan ..."

According to my dictionary, acercarse is a relexive verb, so I understand the first part. But I thought quedar was a reflexive verb also? Why aren't two 'se's used in this sentence?

Most grammar books don't really explain why "se" is used, and they just make things worse. However, without the rest of the sentence, I can only make random guesses about what is right, because "quedar" could mean "be left", whereas "quedarse" means "to stay".

From what I understand both subir and subirse exists as verbs. How do you know which to use to know if you need a se or not? Do you have to take the context into consideration and figure out if they are taking themselves up or if they are being taken up by something or someone?

Not really. As I said, the "se" issue is oversimplified, misunderstood and wrongly explained by most books. In this particular case, "se" indicates more involvement wilfullness, and even effort from the person who goes up or climbs something. If you take a lift, you tend to say "subes", as it is rather passive, but if you climb something, you tend to say "te subes", as you have to make an effort to do so.

And does that sentence mean that they come up to the tree (since the 'a' is there) or that they are going up the tree (as in climbing up)?

The preposition "a" often indicates movement towards a point, but in any case, "subirse" is normally followed by "a", unless you don't want to specify where.

The best book about "se" for people learning Spanish that I have seen, is not very useful, and those that call all verbs with "se" reflexive, are utterly useless, and quite often, wrong. There is so much room for improvement here...

updated MAY 17, 2011
posted by lazarus1907
Amen. You are correct, I have searched EVERYwhere to get a thorough explanation.
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Gracias hhmdirocco! Lately I'm feeling like the more I study the less I know!

updated JUL 11, 2009
posted by trisha2766
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Thank you Lazarus! Yes, in the first sentence 'quedan' means to be left behind.

I guess that what I really need to do is to keep reading and listening (although my listening skills are still not that good yet) until I have a better feel for the right way to says things.

updated JUL 11, 2009
posted by trisha2766
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Keep at it, Trisha! Your questions indicate that "estás usando el coco."

updated JUL 11, 2009
posted by hhmdirocco
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The best book about "se" for people learning Spanish that I have seen, is not very useful, and those that call all verbs with "se" reflexive, are utterly useless, and quite often, wrong. There is so much room for improvement here...

I nominate Lazarus to publish one, and I promise to buy it and promote it wherever I can!
Me too I would buy - for me as a learner of Spanish there are somethings about the Spanish language that need better explanations than I have been able to find.

updated JUL 10, 2009
posted by ian-hill
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I nominate Lazarus to publish one, and I promise to buy it and promote it whereever I can!

If someone works for me, pays my bills and my mortgage (and take care of my daughter), I will commit myself 100% to writing one, but I am to busy for that.

However, I've already included detailed information about pronoun usage with verbs in over 500 words in my database (there are about 4000 useful verbs, and nearly 11000 in total), so maybe one day...

updated JUL 10, 2009
posted by lazarus1907
0
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The best book about "se" for people learning Spanish that I have seen, is not very useful, and those that call all verbs with "se" reflexive, are utterly useless, and quite often, wrong. There is so much room for improvement here...

I nominate Lazarus to publish one, and I promise to buy it and promote it wherever I can!

updated JUL 10, 2009
posted by hhmdirocco