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Gerald Erichsen

In Real Life, Spanish Falls Short of Perfection

By February 9, 2013

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In the Real Spanish Grammar lesson series that we began this year, we analyze Spanish grammar as it's used in real life. And as this week's lesson, on using reflexive verbs, demonstrates, what you'll find on Spanish-language websites isn't always textbook Spanish. As a fun exercise, before you look beyond the introduction to the lesson, see if you can spot the four mistakes (or five, since one of them is repeated). They're all ones that Spanish students can make easily — and learn to avoid.


February 11, 2013 at 9:48 am
(1) furrykef says:

The blurb on this page says the quoted passage in the article contains four mistakes (or five, since one is repeated), but the article does not discuss any mistakes. It does mention that it would be a mistake to translate the reflexive literally in these sentences, but doesn’t claim anywhere that any of the Spanish itself is incorrect.

While we’re at it, the blurb on this page also says “before you beyond the introduction to the lesson” — this clause no verb. ;)

February 11, 2013 at 2:20 pm
(2) Spanish Guide says:

This is a spoiler for those who haven’t looked at the lesson yet, but see the note at the bottom. They refer to improper capitalization and the lack of a written accent.

April 25, 2013 at 12:16 pm
(3) sfree says:

RE: se intercambiaba mensajes de amor

It appears that the form of the verb in terms of number is inconsistent here. Perhaps, /intercambiaban/ is more appropriate since it agrees with the true subject.

RE: San Valentín se convirtió

I surmise that this can illustrate that to the Spaniard (or in Spanish), the subject needs not literally perform the action. One may argue, however, that being a saint, San Valentin is capable of and does perform a miracle, though he is physically dead (just to drive home a point [no disrespect intended]).

NOTE: This passage illustrates, I believe, that the parallels between English and Spanish reflexive do not go beyond the subject performing the action on itself; and the contrastive function that the subject entity, not an exterior agent, performs the action (I did not hurt her; she hurt herself).

Using the English passive voice construction is not perfect but is there a better way? I believe not. There are some limitations to translations between languages.

Thanks again.

— A Student

May 4, 2013 at 6:04 pm
(4) Spanish Guide says:

I hadn’t noticed the singular form of intercambiar. Count that as another mistake.

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