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estado . . .
Preterit: estuve estuviste estuvo estuvimos estuvisteis estuvieron
Imperfect: estaba estabas estaba est´ bamos estabais estaban
a
Future: estar´ estar´ s estar´ estaremos estar´is estar´ n
e a a e a
Imperative: est´ est´ (Ud.) estemos estad est´n (Uds.)
ae e
Present subjunctive: est´ est´s est´ estemos est´is est´n
eee e e
Imperfect subjunctive: estuviera estuvieras estuviera estuvi´ramos estuvierais estuvieran +
e
estuviese estuvieses estuviese estuvi´semos estuvieseis estuviesen
e

101
A STUDENT GRAMMAR OF SPANISH




Now we shall illustrate re¬nements of the distinctions and contrasts presented in
level 1.


2.2 Ser and estar with nouns, pronouns, in¬nitives
and clauses

ser estar
Always used: Idiomatic usages:
´ ´
Soy doctor (M) / medico Estas hecho un hombre
I™m a physician/doctor You™ve turned into a man (big fellow)
´
¿Quien es el jefe? Estoy hecha una sopa
Who™s the boss? I™m soaked to the skin
´
No es nada Estan hechos polvo
It™s nothing They™re exhausted
˜
Ver es creer Estoy hecha anicos
Seeing is believing I™m exhausted
´
Durante la guerra mi padre fue capitan
During the war my father was a captain
(and not the imperfect either = era)


With adverbs of place

ser estar
With subjects representing an event: Designating place: (very common use)
´
La charla es en la otra aula El Museo de Arqueolog´a esta en la
±
´
The talk is in the other lecture theater Ciudad de Mexico
(Estar is not possible here) The . . . is in Mexico City
´ ´
Reorganization of a sentence for stress: ¿Donde estas?
Donde te vi fue en la Calle Mayor Where are you?
´
It was in the Main/High Street that I saw El libro esta en el estante
you The book is on the shelf
´
Fue en Denver donde (not que!) nos La misma idea esta en su novela
conocimos The same idea is in her novel (Although
It was in Denver that we met (i.e. for the the idea is used metaphorically here,
¬rst time) it is still estar)


Note the difference between ser and estar when the adverbs lejos/cerca and adjectives
cercano/lejano are used:

Mi pa´s es lejano/distante
± My country is far away
Mi ciudad est´ lejos
a My town is far away
Mi departamento (M) es cercano a la plaza My apartment is near the square
El Z´calo est´ cerca del Ayuntamiento
o a The main square (in Mexico City) is near
the City/Town Hall


102
13 Ser and estar



Note that estar is always used with bien and mal:
No est´ mal
a Est´ bien
a
It™s not bad It™s OK
(in both cases, when speaking of the appreciation of something)


2.3 Ser and estar with the gerund

ser estar
Note: fui llegando, fue llegando (I was / Always used in the formation of
you were arriving, etc.) are forms of progressive tenses:
´
ir llegando Estaba leyendo el periodico cuando . . .
I was reading the newspaper when . . .
Aquella tarde estuve leyendo un libro
That afternoon I was reading a book




2.4 Ser and estar in the passive voice with a
past participle
Ser, in the ¬rst example, suggests an action while estar suggests a state as a result of an
action:

ser estar
´
El carro fue arreglado por el mecanico El carro estaba arreglado
The car was repaired by the mechanic The car was repaired (in state of repair)

´
Many past participles used as adjectives: Este pan esta vendido
La pel´cula era muy aburrida
± This bread is sold (has been sold)
´
The movie was very boring El vaso esta roto
El joven es muy atrevido The glass is broken
The youth is very daring La ventana estaba abierta/cerrada
Also in this category: The window was open/closed
callado “ quiet, reserved When associated with a re¬‚exive or
cansado “ tiring, tiresome transitive verb
´
con¬ado “ trusting Esta levantada She™s up
descon¬ado “ distrustful Estamos aburridos We™re bored
´
descre´do “ disbelieving
± Esta muerta She™s dead
´
disimulado “ cunning Esta callado He™s quiet (now, but he
divertido/entretenido “ entertaining could be noisy)
osado “ daring
pesado “ boring, dull
sufrido “ long-suffering


Note that many past participles with estar are the equivalent of English present
participles:

103
A STUDENT GRAMMAR OF SPANISH




acostado dormido
lying down sleeping
acurrucado echado
huddling (together) lying down
agachado inclinado
bending over (of body) leaning
agachapado repantigado
crouching lolling
agarrado (a) sentado
clinging (to) sitting
arrimado (a) tendido
leaning (on) lying down
arrodillado tumbado
kneeling lying down
colgado hanging
Ejemplos
Estaba acostada/dormida cuando entr´ She was lying down / sleeping when I walked in
e
Pasa todo su tiempo acostado/dormido/repantigado/sentado/tumbado He spends all his time lying
down / sleeping / lolling about / sitting / lying down
Further examples illustrating the difference between an action (ser) and a state which is
the result of an action (estar). Contrast the following:
Esta novela fue escrita por Unamuno Aqu´ est´ escrito que . . .
±a
This novel was written by Unamuno It is written here that . . .
Los chicos fueron divididos en cuatro grupos El libro estaba dividido en diez cap´tulos
±
The children were divided into four groups The book was divided into ten chapters
Esa ni˜ a fue muy distra´da
n ± Estaba distra´do, no pod´a aplicarme
± ±
That girl was absent-minded I was distracted, I couldn™t concentrate
¿Es Ud. casado o soltero? No estoy casado todav´a±
Are you married or single? (implies legal or I™m not married yet (but may be one day)
social status)


2.5 Ser and estar + adjective

ser estar
With adjectives classifying the subject into When referring to sickness, even when it
a category as in nationality/religion is permanent

´ ˜
Mi esposa es venezolana Esta enferma desde nina She™s been sick
My wife is Venezuelan since childhood
˜ ´ ´
Aquel senor es argentino Estos arboles estan enfermos These trees
That gentleman is Argentinian are damaged
´
El leon es carn´voro
± But when enfermo is a noun, ser is used
The lion is a carnivore Los drogadictos son enfermos Drug
addicts are sick people

When the adjective is an inherent When suddenness or irony are implied
´ ´
property of the subject ¡Que alta estas! How tall you are!
´
El carbon es negro Coal is black (i.e. all) (Are you wearing very high heels?)
´
El hielo es fr´o Ice is cold (i.e. all)
± Hoy la nieve esta blanqu´sima The snow
±
is very white today (more than usual)

(cont.)



104
13 Ser and estar



ser estar
When the adjective is a possible physical An appreciation of clothes, well-¬tting
or moral property of the subject, even or otherwise
´
though this may not be “inherent” or El abrigo te esta corto Your coat is short
“permanent,” and is liable to change on you
´
Juanito es alto Johnny is tall Estos pantalones no me estan bien These
El vecino es rico The neighbor is rich pants don™t ¬t me
La mujer es joven The woman is young
El cuento es triste The tale is sad
Where the adjective expresses a When referring to a profession or job
measurement, quantity or comparison Estuvo de maestra en el pueblo She was
Los jitomates (M) son caros Tomatoes are an elementary/primary school
expensive but: teacher . . .
´ ´ ´
Los jitomates estan caros; i.e. at the Esta de parroco He™s a parish priest
moment Note the use of de in the above two
La calle es estrecha The street is narrow examples
Juana es distinta de su hermana Juana is When referring to temperature
different from her sister Hoy estamos a cero grados Today it™s
zero degrees

Where the subject is a proposition or its When referring to the price of things
´ ´
equivalent El jamon esta a cincuenta pesos The
Este problema es dif´cil This problem is
± price of ham is ¬fty pesos
dif¬cult When referring to time
´
Mandar la carta es facil Sending the letter Hoy estamos a quince Today is the
is easy ¬fteenth



Exercises Level 2
i Rellena los blancos / Llena (M) los espacios con ser o estar. Hay varias posibilidades
a ¿( ) f´ cil la novela?
a i ( ) nadando toda la ma˜ ana
n
b S´, y ahora ( ) hecho polvo
± j ( ) muy atrevido nadando all´±
c ¿( ) lloviendo? k No pasa nada. El r´o ( ) tranquilo hoy
±
d S´, y ahora ( ) hecho una
± l Y hab´a otros chicos que ( ) nadando en
±
sopa el r´o
±
e El bosque ( ) muy lejos m ¿Pero el agua ( ) fr´a?
±
f El bosque ( ) cercano al castillo n No, ( ) templada
g Y ( ) cerca del r´o, tambi´ n
± e o ¿Tus amigos ( ) muy revoltosos?
h ¿( ) nadando en el r´o?± p No, ( ) muy tranquilos y no se meten
con nadie

ii ¿Cual es la diferencia entre los dos usos de los siguientes adjetivos/nombres? ¿Se
´
usa ser o estar?
Ejemplo
Una persona aburrida y una pel´cula aburrida
±
Una persona aburrida es una persona que no es capaz de divertirse. Se usa con estar
Una pel´cula aburrida produce aburrimiento y genera poco inter´ s. Se usa con ser
± e

105
A STUDENT GRAMMAR OF SPANISH




a Una subida cansada y un caminante cansado
b Un chico callado y una plaza callada
c Un dolor molesto y una persona molesta
d Un enfermo y una persona enferma
e Una persona con¬ada (ser) y una persona con¬ada (estar)
iii Actividad en parejas
Objetivo “ Aplicar el uso de ser y estar
M´ todo “ uno (A) de la pareja elige diez adjetivos y nombres y el otro (B) tiene que
e
usarlos con ser o estar. Hay que usar todos los pronombres o nombres
Ejemplos
A: triste
B: (No) estoy triste
A: mercado
B: Est´ n en el mercado
a
A: calle
B: Los vecinos est´ n en la calle
a
A: rubio
B: Es una chica rubia
Despu´ s de esta actividad, un representante de la clase escribe su trabajo en el pizarr´ n
e o
(M) / la pizarra, y los otros miembros de la clase ofrecen otras posibilidades.




106
Unit 14 (Unidad 14)
Transitive and intransitive verbs, and
re¬‚exive verbs (Los verbos transitivos e
intransitivos, y los verbos re¬‚exivos)


This unit should be read in conjunction with the unit on pronouns (unit 17).


Level 1
1.1 Transitive verbs (Verbos transitivos)
1.2 Intransitive verbs (Verbos intransitivos)
´
1.3 More differences between transitive and intransitive verbs (Mas diferencias
entre verbos transitivos e intransitivos)
1.4 Re¬‚exive verbs (Verbos re¬‚exivos)
1.5 Use of the pronoun (Uso del pronombre)
1.6 Re¬‚exive verbs as reciprocal verbs (Verbos re¬‚exivos como verbos rec´procos)
±
1.7 Re¬‚exive verbs with parts of the body (Verbos re¬‚exivos con partes del cuerpo)
1.8 Variations on the place of the re¬‚exive pronoun (Variaciones sobre la
´ ´
posicion / ubicacion (M) del pronombre re¬‚exivo)


1.1 Transitive verbs
A transitive verb has a subject “ an actor who or which acts directly upon some person
or thing and an object. This object must be expressed or the verb ceases to be transitive.
This comment applies to both Spanish and English. Thus in Veo la casa (I see the
house), veo is a transitive verb because it has an object, i.e. casa. Examples of other
verbs used transitively, and there are innumerable verbs that may be used in this way,
are:
Lee el peri´dico
o Veo la pel´cula
±
She reads the newspaper I see the movie
Conduce el coche Visito la ciudad
She drives the car I visit the town
Prepara la cena Toman el avi´no
He prepares the meal They catch the airplane


1.2 Intransitive verbs
If the verb does not have a direct object it is used intransitively. Here are some examples:
Corro/ando todos los d´as
± I run/walk every day
Vamos a Roma We are going to Rome


107
A STUDENT GRAMMAR OF SPANISH




Venimos aqu´ con frecuencia
± We come here frequently
Los ni˜ os nadan en el r´o
n ± The children swim in the river
El sol brilla The sun shines
El pasto (M) / la hierba crece The grass grows


1.3 More differences between transitive and
intransitive verbs
In English, most verbs may be used transitively or intransitively. This is not the case in
Spanish. If we take the use of a transitive verb in English, The man opens the door, we discover
that the verb to open may be used intransitively: The door opens. The Spanish equivalent
abrir may only be used transitively: El hombre abre la puerta. It cannot be used in an
intransitive way unless it becomes re¬‚exive (i.e. La puerta se abre; see “Re¬‚exive verbs”
below: 1.4). But, before passing on to re¬‚exive verbs, we would do well to consider
how the two Spanish verbs bajar and subir may be used transitively and intransitively.
By comparing the transitive and intransitive uses of bajar and subir, you will see the
differences more clearly:
Transitive use Intransitive use
Baja las escaleras Bajan de la monta˜ a
n
She goes down the stairs They go down the mountain
Baja los libros, por favor Los precios bajan/suben
Bring down the books, please Prices are going down/up
El ni˜ o sube las escaleras de dos en dos
n Sube al primer piso
The child goes up the stairs two by two She goes up to the ¬rst ¬‚oor
Sube los sillones con una polea La temperatura sube
She takes up the armchairs with a pulley The temperature™s going up


1.4 Re¬‚exive verbs
i A transitive verb is called re¬‚exive when its action returns upon the actor “ in other
words, when the subject and object are identical. A re¬‚exive verb is a kind of
transitive verb because it does have a direct object. Although re¬‚exive verbs exist in
English, it is possible in most cases not to use them. For example, we would much
more easily say I washed this morning than I washed myself this morning. However, in
Spanish, this is not the case. If we said Lave esta manana a Spanish speaker would
´ ˜
wonder what you were washing, the car, your clothes, sheets, etc. If you wanted
to say that you were actually washing yourself, you would need to use a re¬‚exive
pronoun with the verb lavar. So, the me of me lavo is most necessary if you want
to be clear about what is being washed “ in this case, you. Whatever the form of the
subject, and whether expressed or not, the object is always a pronoun, always
expressed, and agreeing in person and number with the verb (see unit 17 for
pronouns).
The usual position of the pronominal object or pronoun object is immediately before the
˜
verb or the auxiliary verb. The following pattern of the verb banarse (to have a swim
but in M to have a shower) will serve for all tenses and combinations:

108
14 Transitive/intransitive and re¬‚exive verbs



yo me ba˜ o
n
t´ te ba˜ as
u n
´l/ella/Ud. se ba˜ a
e n
nosotros/as nos ba˜ amos
n
vosotros/as os ba˜ ais

ellos/ellas/Uds. se ba˜ an
n
ii Bear in mind again that the Uds. in Mexico, as in all Spanish America, is used to cover
vosotros / as as well as the Uds. of Spain.
˜
Of course, banar is also used non-re¬‚exively to mean to give a bath to or to give a shower to
(M).
Here are just a few very common verbs used re¬‚exively and non-re¬‚exively:
acercar acercarse
to bring closer to get closer
acostar acostarse
to put to bed to go to bed
afeitar (not in M) afeitarse
to shave (someone) to shave (yourself)
alegrar alegrarse
to make happy to cheer up
arreglar arreglarse
to arrange, to ¬x to get ready
avergonzar avergonzarse
to put to shame to be ashamed
cansar cansarse
to tire to get tired
despertar despertarse
to wake (someone) up to wake up
enfadar enfadarse
to make angry to get angry
enojar (M) enojarse
to make angry to get angry
levantar levantarse
to lift up to get up
mojar mojarse
to wet to get wet
pasear pasearse
to take for a walk to go for a walk
rasurar (M) rasurarse
to shave (someone) to shave (yourself)
iii A great number of verbs may be used re¬‚exively in this way.
Examples of verbs used re¬‚exively and non-re¬‚exively
Acerca la silla, por favor Bring the chair closer, please
Me acerco a la ventana I get closer to the window
Voy a pasear al perrito I™m going to take the dog for a walk
Se est´ n paseando
a They™re out for a walk
Su actitud enoja (M) a todo el mundo Her attitude makes everyone angry
Se enoja al enterarse de lo ocurrido She gets angry when she learns what has
happened

1.5 Use of the pronoun
i When the subject is a pronoun, it is often omitted unless emphasis is required. The
re¬‚exive pronoun usually tells you what the subject is. As with all pronouns (see unit
17 on pronouns), the re¬‚exive object can be attached to the in¬nitive or precede an
auxiliary verb coming before the in¬nitive. The meaning is the same. It may be added
in passing that these two usages are equally common in Italian, and in Old French.

Me quiero lavar / Quiero lavarme I want to wash
¿Te quieres acostar? / ¿Quieres acostarte? Do you want to go to bed?
Nos vamos a rasurar / Vamos a rasurarnos (M) We are going to have a shave


109
A STUDENT GRAMMAR OF SPANISH




ii One of the most common and idiomatic uses of Spanish re¬‚exive verbs, as with many
idiomatic uses, does not have a direct equivalent in English. The re¬‚exive may be
used in the singular or plural form. The re¬‚exive can only be rendered in a passive
way in English, unless you choose to change the English construction completely:

Se venden peri´dicos aqu´
o ± Newspapers are sold here / They sell
newspapers here
Se compran carros (M) en un supermercado Cars are sold in a supermarket / They
sell . . .
Se alquila un piso Apartment for rent
Se renta un departamento (M) Apartment for rent
Se busca una secretaria We are looking for a secretary (to work)
Se plantea el siguiente problema The following problem arises
Se reduce la deuda a mil d´lares
o The debt is reduced to a thousand dollars
iii Complications arise when the re¬‚exive pronouns (see unit 17 on pronouns) are no
longer the direct object but the indirect object. Take the following two cases:

Me lavo Me lavo las manos
I wash (myself) I wash my hands
Me corto Me corto el dedo
I cut myself I cut my ¬nger
In these cases, Me in Me lavo is a direct object but in Me lavo las manos it is an
indirect object, since the direct object is las manos. Similarly, in the second example,
el dedo is the direct object and Me is the indirect object. Note also that, in this type of
construction, a possessive adjective is not used “ rather the de¬nite article. This is not
the case in English. Fortunately, pronouns preceding verbs in the perfect tense have no
repercussions on the past participle, as they do in French and Italian, largely because the
perfect tense in Spanish is only conjugated with haber, and not ser or estar.

Examples
Se ha vendido la casa The house has been sold
Se han comprado los boletos (M) / las entradas The tickets have been bought


1.6 Re¬‚exive verbs as reciprocal verbs
i Re¬‚exive verbs can often be referred to as reciprocal verbs when several actors or
subjects act upon each other. In these cases, the subject is always plural:

Se enga˜ an
n They deceive themselves / They deceive
one another
Nos felicitamos We congratulate ourselves / each other
Se miran They look at themselves / at each other
Se ven en el espejo They see themselves / each other in the
mirror
Se ayudan los siniestrados The victims help themselves / each other

ii Sometimes, a reinforcing expression is used to make the meaning clear:

Se detestan mutuamente They loathe each other
Los pol´ticos no se entienden entre s´
± ± Politicians don™t understand each other


110
14 Transitive/intransitive and re¬‚exive verbs



Los soldados se ayudan unos a otros The soldiers help each other
Se odian una a otra They hate each other
iii There are some Spanish verbs which may only be used in the re¬‚exive form, or are
rarely used in a non-re¬‚exive form, and have no genuine re¬‚exive interpretation:
abstenerse de to abstain from
arrepentirse de to repent of
atreverse a to dare to
ausentarse to absent yourself
dignarse to deign to
jactarse de to boast of
quejarse de to complain of

Examples
Se arrepienten de su error They repent over their error
Se atreve a subir a la cumbre She dares to climb up to the top
Se digna concedernos una entrevista She deigns to give us an interview
Nos quejamos de nuestra mala suerte We complain of our bad luck


1.7 Re¬‚exive verbs with parts of the body
Where parts of the human body are concerned, the re¬‚exive pronoun is very com-
mon. It has repercussions in other parts of the sentence as well. Consider the following
sentences:
Me pongo la chaqueta I put on my jacket
Te quitas los zapatos You take your shoes off
Se rompi´ el brazo
o He broke his arm
Se hace da˜ o en el tobillo
n She hurts her ankle
Se lastimaron la cabeza (M) They hurt their heads
Note two features here. One is the use of the re¬‚exive and the second is the use of the
de¬nite article before the direct object: la chaqueta, los zapatos, etc. The possessive
adjectives corresponding to my, your . . . (mi, tu, su, etc.) are not possible here. The
re¬‚exive does the work of the possessive adjective.


1.8 Variations on the place of the re¬‚exive pronoun
As seen above, and with all other personal pronouns, the re¬‚exive is regularly attached
to the in¬nitive or may precede an auxiliary verb which comes before the in¬nitive.
Quiero lavarme / Me quiero lavar I want to wash (myself)
Vamos a acostarnos / Nos vamos a acostar We are going to bed
Debo hacerlo / Lo debo hacer I have to do it

Similarly, the re¬‚exive is either attached to the gerund or placed before the verb estar.
Bear in mind that a written accent needs to be placed over the appropriate vowel when
the re¬‚exive is added to the gerund:


111
A STUDENT GRAMMAR OF SPANISH




Estoy lav´ ndome / Me estoy lavando
a I am washing (myself)
Est´ rasur´ ndose / Se est´ rasurando
a a a He™s shaving (himself)
Est´ n pase´ ndose / Se est´ n paseando
a a a They are out for a walk


Exercises Level 1
i Mark the following verbs as transitive or intransitive, i.e. T or I :

a Escribo la carta h Salen del edi¬cio
b Tira la pelota i Duermo como un lir´ n o
c Miran la monta˜ an j El autob´ s para cada cinco minutos
u
d Subo al cami´ n (M)
o k Nunca vacilo
e Nadan en el lago l No como nada
f Beben agua m Los conduzco a la estaci´ n
o
g El sol brilla n Le da el libro a su hermana

ii Replace the subject pronouns as in the example:
Me lavo a las ocho (t´ /nosotros/ellos) > te lavas / nos lavamos / se lavan
u

a Me levanto (´ l/ella/vosotros/Uds.)
e
b Te peinas bien (´ l/ella/vosotros)
e
c Se (M) desayuna a las ocho (yo/ella/Uds.)
d Me arreglo en diez minutos (nosotros/Uds.)
e ¿A qu´ hora te *duchas? (vosotros/Uds.)
e
f ¿D´ nde te **ba˜ as? (´ l/ella/Uds.)
o n e
g Me disfrazo de pirata (ellos/Uds.)
h Te presentas a las nueve (yo/nosotros/vosotros)
i Me quejo en recepci´ n (t´ /nosotras/ellas)
ou
j Se alegra con su exito (ellos/Uds.)
´
*ducharse is rarely used in M
˜
**banarse in M means to take a shower/bath. In Spain, it usually means to go for a swim
iii Make a sentence as in the example, using a re¬‚exive:
El perro no quiere al gato + El gato no quiere al perro > El gato y el perro no se
quieren
a Rosa no entiende a Luis + Luis no entiende a Rosa
b Sara me escribe + Yo le escribo a Sara
´
c Conozco al doctor + El me conoce
d Juana se despide de nosotros + Nos despedimos de Juana
e Le ayudo a Mar´a + Ella me ayuda a m´
± ±
f Carlos quiere a Teresa + Teresa quiere a Carlos
g Adriana no conoce a Jorge + Jorge no conoce a Adriana
h No le hablo a Roberto + Roberto no me habla
iv Paired activity
Objective “ To distinguish between transitive and intransitive verbs
Method “ The two persons ¬nd a series of ten Spanish verbs each. Then, A asks B
and vice versa whether each verb in question is transitive or intransitive. If the verb is


112
14 Transitive/intransitive and re¬‚exive verbs



transitive, then A and B must ¬nd an object to complete the sentence. Remember that
an intransitive verb does not have an object, and if you end up with an object, you can
be sure it is used as a transitive verb. Of course, there are some verbs which can be used
transitively and intransitively, as with comer below, or correr (Corre los cien metros or Corre).
So, try to ¬nd some verbs which may be used in a transitive and intransitive way (see
bajar and subir, 1.3, to start with).

Example
andar
A:
andar es un verbo intransitivo
B:
tocar
B:
tocar es un verbo transitivo (Toco la guitarra)
A:
comer
A:
comer es un verbo transitivo (Como carne / Estoy comiendo carne). Pero es tambi´ n
B: e
un verbo intransitivo (Como / Estoy comiendo)
The teacher then calls you all back to discuss your ¬ndings. You may need her / his
insight to distinguish between the two uses of some verbs.
Level 2
2.1 Impersonal uses of the re¬‚exive (Usos impersonales del verbo re¬‚exivo)
2.2 Different meaning (sometimes) when the verb is used re¬‚exively (Sentido
diferente [algunas veces] cuando el verbo se usa de forma re¬‚exiva)
2.3 The re¬‚exive used as an intensi¬er (El verbo re¬‚exivo usado para poner
´
enfasis)


2.1 Impersonal uses of the re¬‚exive
i An important characteristic of the Spanish re¬‚exive se is its impersonal use. It has no
equivalent in English, or in French or Italian for that matter. Neither is it easy to
explain or translate. The closest we can get is by stating that se used in this way is an
“independent speech element of impersonal character.” Furthermore, the se here is
not the subject of the sentence, even though it appears at the beginning of, or near
to the beginning of, the sentence. Sorry about such a complicated explanation but
there seems no simple way of dealing with this question. This use of se is quite
unique, which is why many examples will be the most helpful method of illustrating
the feature:

Se les ayud´ a las v´ctimas
o ± The injured were helped
Se le vio al hombre The man was seen
No se le ve He/She is nowhere to be seen
Se le detuvo a la mujer The woman was stopped/arrested
Se les aconsej´ comprarlo
o They were advised to buy it
Se les pidi´ ayuda
o They were asked for help
Se nos reclam´ una compensaci´n
o o They claimed compensation from us
Se les puso una multa They were ¬ned



113
A STUDENT GRAMMAR OF SPANISH



Se nos entreg´ una carta
o A letter was delivered to us
Se le ve guapa She is good-looking
Se les avisar´ a los accionistas
a The shareholders will be informed

An explanation, now that we have the examples, may be clearer. If we take the second
example, if we had said Se vio el hombre (en el espejo) we would mean that the man
saw himself in the mirror. To suggest that the man was seen by someone else, the re¬‚exive
se precedes le which becomes an indirect object. In all the sentences above, there is an
indirect object: les, le, os, nos. For a Spanish speaker, it is an elegant way of avoiding
what could be a heavy or cumbersome passive.

ii This construction leads to the very common use of se, albeit more in written
form, in the following way. It is as much a question of word order as anything
else:

A todos los miembros se les pidi´ que contribuyeran m´ s dinero
o a
All the members were asked to contribute more money
A muchas alumnas se les anim´ a trabajar m´ s duro
o a
Many pupils were encouraged to work harder
Al autor se le alab´ por su nueva novela
o
The author was praised for his new novel

iii The impersonal se is also used with intransitive verbs:

Cuando se tiene treinta a˜ os
n When you are / one is thirty years old
Cuando se es viejo When you are / one is old
Si se muere If you die / one dies
Se vive mal aqu´
± You don™t live well here

iv The impersonal se is also commonly used with verbs such as permitir, prohibir,
poder:

No se permite ba˜ arse aqu´
n ± You cannot swim here
No se puede pisar el c´sped
e You cannot walk on the grass (Please do
not . . .)
Se proh´be ¬jar carteles
± You can™t stick posters (here) (i.e. Stick no
bills)

v Referring back to the construction listed in level 1.5: se compran carros or se venden
pisos “ you will frequently come across a lack of agreement, i.e. se vende pisos or se
repara televisores. There is some discussion over the grammatical legitimacy of this
construction. It is probably best to avoid it, although it is extremely common.



2.2 Different meaning (sometimes) when the verb
is used re¬‚exively
Many verbs have a slightly different meaning sometimes, but not always, when used
re¬‚exively. Here is a short list:

114
14 Transitive/intransitive and re¬‚exive verbs



Non-re¬‚exive Re¬‚exive
aparecer to appear (used most commonly) aparecerse to appear as of a ghost
´ ´
Aparecio a la puerta / en el parque La Virgen se les aparecio a los pastorcillos
She appeared in the door / in the park The Virgin appeared to the shepherds
bajar to go down bajarse to get off
˜ ´
bajar las escaleras / de la montana Bajate del tren en Zaragoza
To go down the stairs / the mountain Get off the train in Saragossa
casar to marry (someone to another) casarse to get married
´ ´
Los caso el alcalde The mayor married Se caso con una colombiana He married
them a Colombian
desayunar to have breakfast desayunarse to have breakfast (M)
¿Has desayunado? Have you had ¿Ya te desayunaste? Have you had
breakfast? breakfast already?
enfermar to fall sick enfermarse to fall sick (M)
´ ´ ´ ´
Enfermo del corazon She fell sick with Se enfermo del estomago She fell ill with
heart trouble stomach troubles
entrenar to train (used transitively but entrenarse to train (but increasingly
see opposite) used non-re¬‚exively in this meaning)
´
Este tecnico entrena al equipo This Esa atleta (se) entrena todos los d´as That
±
manager trains the team athlete trains every day (This non-
re¬‚exive use is not always accepted)
parar to stop (used transitively and pararse to stop, to stand up (M) (used
intransitively) intransitively)
´ ´
El portero paro el penalti The goalkeeper Se paro a hablar con la vecina He
stopped the penalty stopped to speak to the neighbor
El tren para aqu´ todos los d´as The train
± ± Se pararon (M) / levantaron los alumnos
stops here every day (se not possible The pupils stood up
here)
regresar to return, to give back (more regresarse (M)
´
common in M and second meaning ¿Cuando se regresaron? When did you
only in M) come back?
Regresaron a casa They returned home
´
Me regreso (M) el paquete She returned
the packet to me
subir to go up, to rise subirse to get on
˜ ´ ´
Subimos la montana We went up the Se subio al avion She got on the airplane
mountain Me sub´ al windsurf I got on the
±
Los precios suben Prices are going up windsurfer




2.3 The re¬‚exive used as an intensi¬er
The re¬‚exive is also used as an intensi¬er. Its use in the following examples illustrates
how the re¬‚exive pronoun gives a “stronger,” though essentially similar, meaning.

115
A STUDENT GRAMMAR OF SPANISH




Non-re¬‚exive Re¬‚exive
caer to fall caerse to fall (often used of a person)
´ ´ ´ ´
La maceta cayo por el balcon The ¬‚ower Se cayo del arbol She fell from the tree
´
pot fell over the balcony Se cayo de espaldas She fell over
(but caerse is possible here as in Se backwards
cayo la lampara The lamp fell over)
´ ´
comer to eat comerse to eat up
´
He comido bien I™ve had a good meal Se comio todas las papas (M) / patatas He
ate all the potatoes
dormir to sleep dormirse to go to sleep
¿Dormiste bien? Did you sleep well? Me dorm´ en seguida I fell asleep
±
immediately
encontrar to ¬nd, to meet encontrarse to come across, to meet
No encuentro al chico I can™t ¬nd the boy unexpectedly
´ ´ ´
La encontre en la estacion I met her at Me le encontre sin darme cuenta I
the station (i.e. I had been planning to bumped into him/her without realizing
´ ´
meet her) Se encontro un billete de diez dolares en
la calle He found a ten-dollar bill in
the street
ir to go irse to go away
Voy a Palenque I™m going to Palenque Se fueron a Brasil They went to Brazil
leer to read leerse to read (can suggest great
Le´ el libro I read the book
± interest)
Me le´ cuatro novelas en una semana I
±
read four novels in a week
llevar to carry, to wear, to take, to bring llevarse to take away
´ ˜
Llevaba una maleta She was carrying a Me lo lleve a Espana I took it to Spain
´ ´
suitcase El ladron se llevo todas las joyas The
Llevaba una falda escocesa He was thief went off with all the jewels
wearing a kilt
´
Quedate all´ y te lo llevo Wait there and
±
I™ll bring it to you
marchar to march, to work (of marcharse to go away
mechanism) Se marcharon They went off (little used
Los soldados marcharon todo el d´a The
± in M)
soldiers marched all day
Mi reloj marcha bien My watch is working
well
morir to die morirse to be dying
´ ˜ ´
(Se) murio su padre el ano pasado His Se mor´a cuando llego el doctor (M) He
±
father died last year was dying when the physician arrived
´ ´
El hombre murio a manos de un ladron However, you can say morir and morirse
The man died at the hands of a thief de fr´o/hambre
±
ocurrir to happen Ocurrirse to occur (to someone)
´ ´
Ocurrio el accidente ayer The accident Se me ocurrio decirle que . . . It occurred
happened yesterday to me to say to her . . .
(cont.)


116
14 Transitive/intransitive and re¬‚exive verbs



Non-re¬‚exive Re¬‚exive
pasar to pass, to happen pasarse to pass, to spend, to pass by
˜
Los anos pasaron The years passed (often with the idea of a person doing
´ ´
¿Que paso? What happened? something)
´
Me pase toda la tarde leyendo I spent all
afternoon reading
´
Se me paso la oportunidad I missed the
opportunity
quedar to remain, to be left, to agree quedarse to remain (with this meaning
Quedan diez minutos / dos bollos Ten merely a stronger form of quedar)
´
minutes / two buns remain Se quedo en casa He remained at
Hemos quedado el lunes a las siete We home
have agreed on Monday at seven
Quedamos en vernos a la una We agreed
to meet at one
salir to go out, to turn out (correctly or salirse to go out (merely a stronger form
otherwise) of salir, and suggesting a determined
´
Salio del edi¬cio a las dos She left the feeling)
´ ´ ´
building at two Se enfado y se salio del cafe She got
´
´
Este calculo no me sale I can™t solve this angry and marched out of the cafe
´
calculation Se salio a mitad de la pel´cula She went
±
out in the middle of the ¬lm (probably
in anger or discontentedness)
tomar to take, drink tomarse to drink (probably quickly)
´ ´ ˜
¿Que vas a tomar? What™ll you have? Se tomo cuatro canas He drank / knocked
back four glasses of beer
venir to come venirse to come (often with a purpose)
˜
Vino a California hace dos anos She came Se vino a Guanajuato para montar una
to California two years ago empresa He came to Guanajuato to set
up a company


Exercises Level 2
i Cambia la ubicacion (M) / posicion del re¬‚exivo como en el ejemplo:
´ ´
Se van a quejar con el encargado > Van a quejarse con el encargado
a Te debes despedir inmediatamente
b Los muchachos se est´ n asoleando (M)
a
c Te puedes caer por las escaleras
d ¿Se van a casar pronto?
e Me estoy ensuciando el vestido

ii Cambia como en los ejemplos:
Pienso acostarme > Me pienso acostar
El beb´ est´ ri´ ndose muy contento > El beb´ se est´ riendo muy contento
e ae e a
a Pensamos irnos a las dos de la tarde
b Quieren quedarse en el hotel
c Desean levantarse temprano

117
A STUDENT GRAMMAR OF SPANISH




d Pedro va a enojarse mucho
e Tienes que levantarte ahora
f Sigo divirti´ ndome
e
g Continuamos pase´ ndonos
a
h Estoy arregl´ ndome
a
i Est´ n pint´ ndose los ojos
a a
j Est´ s ensuci´ ndote la ropa
a a
iii Cambia como en el ejemplo, anadiendo una preposicion si es necesaria. Hace falta
˜ ´
un poco de imaginacion:
´
Abres la puerta > Se est´ abriendo la puerta
a
a El profesor aburre a todo el mundo
b Acuestas a los ni˜ os
n
c La ¬esta alegra a los ni˜ os
n
d La lectura me cansa
e Paseo a la familia
f Te secas el pelo
g El t´ cnico entrena al equipo
e
h El cura casa a los novios

iv Rellena los blancos / Llena los espacios (M) con el verbo y el pronombre re¬‚exivo
´
correctos. Tienes el verbo en in¬nitivo. Puedes ponerlo en presente o en preterito
˜
simple, y de vez en cuando, en imperfecto, y escribir un texto de Espana o de
´
Mexico. En lo que se re¬ere al modelo mexicano que se propone, se detectan
algunos detalles algo distintos del texto original.

(Yo) ( ) levantar a las siete. (Yo) ( ) lavar con un poco de jab´ n. ( ) lavar con la manopla, ( )
o
frotar / tallar (M) el cuerpo con esponja / zacate (M) y ( ) limpiar la cara con agua caliente. ( )
acercar al espejo. ( ) ver en el. ( ) afeitar / rasurar (M) de mala gana. Veo en el espejo a una
´
persona que ( ) arreglar pero que no ( ) pintar como mi esposa. ( ) mojar la cara con m´ s agua.
a
Esa persona que ( ) mostrar en el espejo ( ) enojar (M) / enfadar por la faena. ( ) cansar con
tanto trabajo. ( ) cortar el dedo con la navaja y ( ) enojar/enfadar otra vez. ( ) presentar despu´ s
e
una mujer y ( ) ver ahora dos personas en el espejo. (Nosotros) ( ) saludar, pero no ( ) reconocer.
No ( ) hablar / platicar (M) porque no ( ) conocer. ( ) ver ahora dos personas que ( ) dar un
toque agradable y que ( ) preparar para salir a la calle. ( ) arreglar bien. La mujer ( ) quitar los
rulos / tubos (M) para poner ( ) guapa y para poder poner ( ) el sombrero. Los dos ( )
endomingar / pulir (M) porque querer presentar ( ) perfectamente vestidos con sus amigos.
Salen sin hablar ( ) y sin dirigir ( ) la palabra el uno al otro.


v Prepara para la semana proxima un trozo describiendo un pequeno episodio de tu
´ ˜
propia vida. Usa verbos re¬‚exivos como los de arriba en el pasaje anterior. Se puede
tratar de la primera hora de la manana cuando te levantas, una visita al cine/teatro,
˜
un viaje al centro de la ciudad, un encuentro imprevisto, o cualquier anecdota
´
relacionada con tu vida personal. El profesor pedira a varios estudiantes que le
´
presenten su tarea a toda la clase. Los que escuchen las presentaciones tomaran´
apuntes, lo que producira un debate (en espanol, ¿por que no?) sobre el uso de los
´ ˜ ´
verbos re¬‚exivos. Y ¡mucha imaginacion! ´




118
Unit 15 (Unidad 15)
Impersonal verbs (Los verbos
impersonales)


Level 1
1.1 Impersonal verbs (Verbos impersonales)
1.2 Uses of haber (Usos de haber)
1.3 Impersonal use of hacer meaning ago and since (Uso impersonal de hacer con
el sentido de desde)


1.1 Impersonal verbs
Impersonal verbs have neither subject nor object. Whatever they represent as being or as
going on, nothing is suggested as taking any active part in it. There is no perfect example
of such a verb in English but Spanish, like Italian, has many that are either always or
occasionally used. The English pronoun it is a mere form of expression due to the habit
of our language, but it does not represent the actor. Interestingly enough, the English it
corresponds to the French il. The verbs in question here are frequently associated with
weather or natural phenomena:
i llover (to rain), nevar (to snow), tronar (to thunder), lloviznar (to drizzle), granizar (to
hail), relampaguear (to be lightning “ very dif¬cult to translate! [any suggestions?]
and an excellent example of why literal translations are not to be recommended),
hacer (to be) (especially this last one):

Llueve mucho Relampaguea
It rains a lot There™s lightning
Est´ nevando
a Hace buen tiempo
It™s snowing It™s nice weather
Est´ tronando
a ¿Qu´ tiempo hace?
e
It™s thundering What™s the weather
like?
Llovizna Hace (mucho) viento
It drizzles It™s (very) windy

ii With respect to weather, we should point out here the differences between hacer
and tener. Whereas hacer is used to refer to the condition of the weather, tener is
used for a person™s reaction to it. Compare the following examples:

Hace calor Hace fr´o
±
It is hot It is cold
Tengo calor Tengo fr´o
±
I am hot I am cold

Estar caliente does not mean to be hot, unless used ¬guratively about the opposite sex!


119
A STUDENT GRAMMAR OF SPANISH




iii Furthermore, estar is used in this context, but for things:

Esta cama est´ fr´a
a± This bed is cold
La sopa est´ muy caliente
a The soup is very hot


1.2 Uses of haber
i (There is a more limited treatment of haber in unit 13, 1.4.v on ser and estar. See also
level 2 in this unit.)
The verb haber has practically lost its original meaning of possession, connected as it is
to the French verb avoir and the Italian avere which both retain the notion of possession.
Its principal value is that of an auxiliary verb (he hablado = I spoke / have spoken) in
forming compound tenses (see unit 5). It has one other wide acceptation, namely when it
is used impersonally. Only the third person singular (hay), the in¬nitive (haber), the past
participle (habido) and the gerund (habiendo) are used impersonally. One irregularity
is that the present indicative is not ha but hay. This peculiar form is a combination of
ha and the now obsolete y (there) which crops up in the French il y a (there is/are). Hay
is used in the following way.
ii

Hay un coche / diez coches There is one/a car / are ten cars
Hay un muchacho / varios muchachos There is/are one/a/several boy(s)
It is clear from these examples that, while in English the verb agrees in number with the
following noun or nouns, in Spanish it is singular throughout, like the French il y a. (See
level 2.6. for similar use in other tenses.)
iii Hay followed by que = hay que, and then followed by an in¬nitive, denotes
necessity or obligation, witness these examples:

Hay que ser prudente en carretera I/You/We, etc., have to be careful on the
road
Hay que ir ma˜ ana
n I/You/We, etc., have to go tomorrow
(See level 2 for similar use in other tenses and covering personal pronouns.)
iv When a noun or equivalent word intervenes between haber and que, the idea of
obligation is modi¬ed:

Hay muchos monumentos que visitar There are lots of monuments to visit
Hay m´ s de una di¬cultad que vencer
a There is more than one dif¬culty to get over


1.3 Impersonal use of hacer meaning ago and since
Apart from its use with weather (see above), this verb may be followed by a measure of
time, and has the value of ago or since:
Hace tres a˜ os que estoy en M´xico
n e I™ve been in Mexico for three years
Hace m´ s de un a˜ o que no oigo hablar de ella
a n I haven™t heard of her for more than a year
Llegu´ hace cinco a˜ os
e n I arrived ¬ve years ago


120
15 Impersonal verbs



Exercises Level 1
i Answer the following questions:


Example
¿Qu´ tiempo hace ma˜ ana? > Hace buen tiempo ma˜ ana
e n n
a ¿Qu´ tiempo hace hoy?
e
b ¿Qu´ tiempo hace en verano?
e
c ¿Qu´ tiempo hace en invierno?
e
d ¿Qu´ tiempo hace en primavera?
e
e ¿Qu´ tiempo hace en oto˜ o?
e n
f ¿Qu´ tiempo hace en marzo?
e
g ¿Qu´ tiempo hace en el sur de M´ xico?
e e
h ¿Qu´ tiempo hace en el centro de Espa˜ a en julio?
e n
i ¿Qu´ tiempo hace en Nueva York en febrero?
e
j ¿Qu´ tiempo hace en Arizona en agosto?
e

ii Complete the following sentences with expressions related to the weather:


Example
Juego con mis amigos en el parque cuando ( ) > . . . cuando hace buen tiempo
a No salgo en el carro (M) / coche cuando ( )
b Mis padres y yo vamos al campo cuando ( )
c No visitamos la costa cuando ( )
d No saco buenas fotos cuando ( )
e En Londres en noviembre ( )
f En Acapulco en verano ( )
g Pasan todo el d´a en casa cuando ( )
±
h ¿Vas al colegio en cami´ n (M) / autob´ s cuando ( ) ?
o u
i No me gustan las vacaciones cuando ( )
j Disfruto mucho cuando ( )
k Me siento muy rom´ ntico cuando ( )
a
l Es peligroso el mar cuando ( )

iii Make questions from the following statements, as in the example:
Hay una regadera (M) / una ducha en el ba˜ o > ¿Qu´ hay en el ba˜ o?
n e n
a Hay una televisi´ n en el estudio
o
b Hay tres sillas en la rec´ mara (M) / el dormitorio
a
c Hay un microondas en la cocina
d Hay unos peri´ dicos en la mesa
o
e Hay una computadora (M) / un ordenador en el sal´ n o
f Hay varios timbres (M) / sellos en el paquete
g Hay un foco (M) / una bombilla en el techo
h Hay cuatro mesas en el comedor
i Hay un carro (M) / coche en el garage (M) / garaje
j Hay dos espejos en el ba˜ on

121
A STUDENT GRAMMAR OF SPANISH




iv Class activity
Objective “ Practice the use of impersonal verbs with reference to the weather
Method “ One member of the class draws weather phenomena on the board. The class
guesses what kind of weather it is.
Example
The member draws drops of water coming down
The class responds with: Llueve / Est´ lloviendo (same meaning)
a
1.1 above will give you plenty of help. Feel free to use your imagination to indicate heat,
cold, etc. It would be easy to ¬nd ten illustrations.

Level 2
´
2.1 More on impersonal verbs (Mas detalles sobre verbos impersonales)
2.2 Ser and estar used impersonally when followed by nouns and adjectives (Uso
impersonal de ser y estar seguidos de nombres y adjetivos)
2.3 Modal auxiliary verbs (Verbos auxiliares de tipo modal)
2.4 Uses of caber and soler (Usos de caber y soler)
2.5 Uses of bastar, faltar, quedar, sobrar (Usos de bastar, . . .)
´
2.6 More on haber and hacer (Mas detalles sobre haber y hacer)
2.7 Use of haber + debido = Ought and ought to have (Uso de . . .)
2.8 Verbs in past tenses with hacer = ago (Verbos en pasado con hacer = ago)
2.9 Desde = since



2.1 More on impersonal verbs
i In addition to the weather verbs above, there is a further cluster of verbs that stand
freely, and often do not have a true equivalent in English. Among the most common
are:

amanecer encantar
to dawn, to get light to please, to delight
anochecer gustar
to begin to get dark to please
apetecer importar
to attract, to appeal (to) to be important
constar parecer
to be evident to seem, to appear
convenir ventiscar
to suit to be snowing (and blowing)
diluviar to pour down
Of course, encantar and gustar may be used in other ways:
Les encanto a mis estudiantes My students adore me
Le gusto a mi novia My girlfriend likes me

Ejemplos
En invierno amanece tarde It gets light later in winter
Me gusta el verano mediterr´ neo porque anochece
a I like the Mediterranean summer because it
tarde gets dark later
¿Te apetece un helado? Do you feel like an ice cream?
Me consta que tiene dinero It is clear to me that he has money


122
15 Impersonal verbs



Conviene ¬rmar el contrato It is sensible to sign the contract
Le encanta la opera / ir a la opera
´ ´ She loves the opera / going to the opera
¿Os / les (M) gusta ir al cine? Do you like going to the movies?
Importa mucho It is very important
¿Les importa que fumemos? Do you mind if we smoke?
Siempre me molesta no ayudarte It always troubles me not to help you
Me parece que es china It seems to me that she™s Chinese
Ayer estuvo ventiscando todo el d´a
± It was snowing hard all day yesterday
ii There are many cases where in English a verb would be used impersonally, governing
an in¬nitive, while in Spanish the in¬nitive is the subject of the verb:

Me cost´ un ojo de la cara aprobar el examen
o It cost me an arm and a leg to get through
the exam
Nos toc´ jugar a nosotros
o It was our turn to play
A ella le correspond´a ir de vacaciones en oto˜ o
± n It was her turn to go on vacation in the
fall/autumn
Compete a la compa˜´a responder por el error
n± It is incumbent upon the company to be
responsible for the error = The
company takes responsibility for . . .


2.2 Ser and estar used impersonally when followed by
nouns and adjectives
i The verbs ser and estar are used impersonally with special frequency when followed
by nouns and adjectives:

Es una pena ver a estos ni˜ os tan enfermos
n It is sad to see these children so sick
Es l´ stima que os teng´ is que marchar
a a It™s a pity you have to go
Es importante estudiar It™s important to study
Es esencial trabajar It™s essential to work
Es l´gico terminarlo hoy
o It™s logical to ¬nish it today
Es natural cuidar a tus ni˜ os
n It™s natural to look after your children
Estaba oscuro cuando me levant´ e It was dark when I got up
Est´ muy nublado
a It™s very cloudy
Era muy tarde para ir al campo It was very late to go into the country
ii There is an impersonal expression, of active form, but of passive value, formed by the
verb ser, followed by de and the in¬nitive:

Es de esperar que regresen It is to be hoped they will come back
Es de lamentar que no haya aprobado It is to be regretted he did not pass


2.3 Modal auxiliary verbs
i English has a relatively large number of auxiliary verbs (e.g. will, would, may, might,
shall, should, must, ought) and verbal expressions (to be to, to have to, e.g. we were
to arrive at nine, we have to go now). Their main function is to express intentions or


123
A STUDENT GRAMMAR OF SPANISH




commands. There is no straightforward match between these and their Spanish
counterparts. Spanish has a rather small number of auxiliary verbs (deber, poder,
querer) and verbal expressions (tener que hacer algo = to have to do something,
haber de hacer algo = to have to do something). Their main uses are:

ii Deber to have to, must (often has the value of ought, and less strong than tener
que “ see below; also suggests speculation = must)

Debo ir ahora I must go now
Debe de ser muy pobre She must be very poor (speculation)
Debi´ de hacerlo
o He must have done it (speculation)
iii Poder to be able, can

Puedes ir conmigo You can go with me
¿Puedes nadar doscientos metros? Can you swim two hundred meters?
Podr´ n jugar ma˜ ana
a n They will be able to / can play tomorrow
Habr´a podido aprobar el examen
± He could have got through the examination
iv Saber to know (how to)

S´ hablar espa˜ ol / cocinar / nadar / usar la computadora (M) / el ordenador I know how to speak
e n
Spanish/cook/ swim/use the computer
Note. Poder suggests physical capacity while saber suggests knowledge for doing
something
v Conocer (to know) should also be distinguished from saber. If you associate it with to
be acquainted with as in, for example, Conozco a tu hermano / a esta autora / la
´
ciudad de Mexico (I know your brother, etc) you see the difference immediately.
Bear in mind also that saber suggests to know a fact, as in: S´ que est´ n en la casa / que vendr´ n
e a a
ma˜ ana (I know that they are in the house / they will come tomorrow)
n
vi Querer to want, to wish

Quieren tocar los instrumentos They want to play the instruments
Quer´amos subir al monte
± We wanted to go up the mountain
Yo hubiera querido acompa˜ arlos
n I would have wanted to accompany them
vii Tener que to have to / must (often stronger than deber)

Tengo que ir I must go
Ten´a que haberlo hecho
± I ought to have done it
viii Haber + de has the meaning of to be/have to. It can also imply an assumption or a
speculation = must. With this second meaning it ¬ts in with deber de

Hemos de trabajar duro We™ve got to work hard
Habr´ de entregar los deberes esta tarde
a We™ll/He™ll/She™ll have to hand in the
homework this afternoon
Ha de haber un baile ma˜ ana
n There is to be a ball tomorrow
Hab´a de haber un partido de f´ tbol al d´a siguiente
± u ± There was to be a football game the
following day
Ha de ser muy rico He must be very rich
La palabra ha de estar en el diccionario The word must be in the dictionary

124
15 Impersonal verbs



2.4 Uses of caber and soler
i There are two verbs which do not have an English equivalent: caber and soler. Using
them is often a lot easier than translating them.
caber = to be contained in, to be enough room for, to ¬t
Los libros caben en la estanter´a

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