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It is my understanding that "you look good" translates as, "te ves bien" and that you see well (as in, your vision is good) can be said as "tu ves bien."

However, saying you smell good and your sense of smell is good, are both "tu hueles bien," while based on the previous example I would think "you smell good" would be "te hueles bien."

Is this just an inconsistency of the language/a manner of expression, or is there some structure/logic to it?

Thanks!

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3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

I would say "Te ves bien" is an expression, probably influenced by English (I might be wrong here), that some Latin American countries use to say "you look good". We don't use that in Spain, we rather say "Estás guapo/a", "Tienes buen aspecto" or something similar.

Applying a strict semantical analysis on "te ves bien" would conclude it means "you can see yourself well" as in "you have a clear sight of yourself". In fact, I, being a Spaniard, know it means "You look good" because I've learnt that Latin American countries use it in that way, not out of direct inference after reading the sentence.

In the same manner that you don't say "Te sabes bien" when saying "You taste good" but "sabes bien" (I know it's an unlikely phrase but it's technically possible), you don't say "te hueles bien" but rather "hueles bien".

So "te ves bien" is the exception, and besides it's only used in some countries.

I hope I explained myself :)

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Thanks, this was very helpful! –  Eric Apr 23 '12 at 17:38
3  
As an addition, I would say that "(tú) hueles bien" to mean "your sense of smell is good" is rather odd. In fact, I would say it could mean something more like "you are good at smelling" which is also rather strange. To say "your sense of smell is good" I would say "tienes buen olfato". –  MikMik Apr 24 '12 at 6:17
    
Glad to help. If you found it useful, please mark it as an answer :) –  kelmer Apr 24 '12 at 16:55
    
Who says "Sabes bien" is unlikely? I use that phrase all the time!! :P –  Flimzy Apr 26 '12 at 13:41

I beg to differ from kelmer.

The term "Te ves bien" is actually the literal translation for "You look good" however this is used as a general term.

Your mom can say to you "Te ves bien" as well dressed for a job interview. Somebody at the office can say "Te ves bien" as a sarcasm for a coworker trying to impress the boss. -to say the least-

Your significant other can say to you "Te ves bien" as a compliment.

The meaning can go different ways depending on the context you use it.

Answering your question, "Tu ves bien" either in the form of a question, suggestion or affirmation means that other person sight is ok.

more formally "TU TE VES BIEN" is the same as "TE VES BIEN"

Smell is quite ambiguous "you smell good" can mean that your nose is working fine or other person's aroma is nice, and again, it depends on the context.

As kelmer, I hope I made myself clear.

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I only wanted to mention that my wife (from Perú) has used te luces bien but since I don't see it mentioned here I'm not sure it's valid. Can someone confirm?

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