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He leído las siguientes oraciones.

Mi hermano menor se rompió la mayoría de vasos.
Mi hermano menor rompió la mayoría de vasos.

Dice que la segunda frase es correcta. ¿Pero por qué?
Su hermano no con el propósito de romper los vasos y así que necesita el "se", ¿no?


Another example I read from the book:

Se me caen las llaves.

It said that "it wasn't me who drops them on purpose, the action was not intended to happen. Hence, the action is attributed to the keys, while the 'I' becomes an indirect object." and this is one of the uses of "SE".
According to the explanation, this is called "accidental SE".

Going back to the beginning example, "the brother" did not intend to break the cups. So this should be an "accident", right? If we use "SE", how to say it including "the brother" and the "cups"? Thanks!


For this sentence:

A mi hermano se le rompieron la mayoría de los vasos.

  1. Why "le" is used? What does it refer to? Is it "pronombre acusativo" or "pronombre dative"?
  2. What kind of sentence structure is it? I wonder why when we say "a mi hermano...le...", it means the "hermano" breaks the glasses by accident?
  3. What is the subject and object for this sentence?
  4. Is "se le rompieron" reflexive? Who do the action on the glasses? Who receives the action?
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Deberías aceptar tus preguntas que estén respondidas y ya lo hayas entendido. Si no los usuarios no van a querer responderte. En caso de que no te gusten las respuestas, da más detalles sobre por qué no te parecen buenas respuestas. –  JoulSauron Jun 16 '12 at 13:32

5 Answers 5

up vote 3 down vote accepted
+50

The word "se" is used whenever you want to point that something is part of, property of, like when you use "for himself/herself" or "his/her". So putting this as examples:

Mi hermano menor se rompió la mayoría de vasos.

means "my little brother broke the mayority of his glasses" (but since the bother doesn't have glasses inside his body nor the glasses are part of the body, then it makes no sense).

And when you say:

Mi hermano menor rompió la mayoría de vasos.

it means "My little brother broke the majority of the glasses"

Now adding a bit more understanding example denoting property: When you want to say "My brother bought a book for himself" (clearly states that the book was bought for him and not for someone else) here are the two comparatives:

"Mi hermano se compró un libro"

here you are clearly stating that the book was bought for him.

"Mi hermano compró un libro"

here you are saying that your brother bought the book but this doesn't explain for who.

Now adding a bit more understanding example denoting that something is "part of": When you want to say "My brother broke his arm" (clearly stating that the arm broken is his) here are the two comparatives:

"Mi hermano se rompió el brazo"

here it's clearly that the arm broken is his and not someone else's

"Mi hermano rompió el brazo"

here you are just saying that he broke an arm but it doesn't mean that the arm broken is his, since he could have break someone's else.

I hope it helped to make it a bit more clear.

Now clarifying your doubts for this sentence:

A mi hermano se le rompieron la mayoría de los vasos.

Why "le" is used? What does it refer to? Is it "pronombre acusativo" or "pronombre dative"?

"le", "lo" , "los" and such are accusative pronouns. "le" is used to denote that the glasses were broken by him.

What kind of sentence structure is it? I wonder why when we say "a mi hermano...le...", it means the "hermano" breaks the glasses by accident?

because the glasses could have been broken by something else (maybe a strong wind blew the glasses away), its pretty much like when you say: "my brother cut his finger" and "the finger of my brother was cut"; in the first one the finger was cut intentionally and in the second one the finger could have been cut by accident (i.e. a paper sheet)

What is the subject and object for this sentence?

The subject is "mi hermano" (my brother) and the object "los vasos" (the glasses).

Is "se le rompieron" reflexive? Who do the action on the glasses? Who receives the action?

No its not reflexive since he is not breaking his own glasses (since a person does not have glasses inside his body or as part of his body). Reflexive verbs show what a person does to him/herself. "mi hermano" (my brother) does the action on the glasses, "los vasos" receives the action since they are beeing broken by my brother. Here is a great slide about Reflexive Verbs

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¡Bienvenido a Spanish.SE! –  JoulSauron Jul 9 '12 at 22:24
    
@Raykud: thanks, your answer is very clear. I still have one doubt and have edited it in my question. Would you please advise? –  Cadenza Jul 10 '12 at 3:22
    
I just edited to answer your new questions. I hope it helped. –  Raykud Jul 10 '12 at 17:23
    
@Raykud: Thanks for the reply. Just want to make it clear: –  Cadenza Jul 12 '12 at 15:33
    
@Raykud: Thanks for the reply. Just want to make it clear: > "A mi hermano se le rompieron la mayoría de los vasos." If "Se" is not an reflexive, is it a pronoun? What does it refer to? –  Cadenza Jul 12 '12 at 15:53

I think the confusion might come from the fact that "break" in English can be both transitive (destroy something) and intransitive (fall to pieces).

"Romper" means "destroy" whereas "romperse" means "fall to pieces".

So the sentence would be either

Mi hermano menor rompió la mayoría de vasos. My little brother broke (destroyed) most of the cups.
Se rompieron la mayoría de vasos. Most of the cups broke (fell to pieces).

Spanish further allows addition of a dativus incommodi (dative of inconvenience), which makes it sound like the little brother was a victim, not the culprit ;). English has a similar construct, on, but I believe this is dialectal and/or colloquial.

A mi hermano menor se le rompieron la mayoría de vasos. (Approx:) Most of the cups broke on him.

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Para mi

A. Mi hermano menor (sujeto) rompió (verbo) la mayoría de vasos (objetivo)

B. La mayoría de vasos (sujeto) se rompieron (verbo reflexivo, acción sobre el sujeto)

(en inglés:A. My small brother broke the most of the glasses. = normal sentence, subject performs action of the verb on the object

or B. Most of the glasses broke (maybe when I dropped the box)) = Action of the reflexive verb on the subject.

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Subjetivo debería ser sujeto (nunca he oído subjetivo como sinónimo de sujeto). Objetivo debería ser objeto directo. En la segunda frase, debería ser "se rompieron". –  Pablo Jun 16 '12 at 22:12
    
@All: Sorry but I am still confused. I've edited my question. Please advise. Thanks! –  Cadenza Jun 17 '12 at 7:22
    
@BrianA: Could you please advise the English translation of "La mayoría de vasos se rompieren". –  Cadenza Jun 17 '12 at 15:12
1  
@Cadenza "Most of the glasses shattered (or broke)". Sorry, my layout could have been better. Not sure where you are, but here in Spain a cup is usually "taza". Wine glass with stem "copa". Ordinary glass "vasa". –  BrianA Jun 18 '12 at 11:04

Going back to the beginning example, "the brother" did not intend to break the cups. So this should be an "accident", right? If we use "SE", how to say it including "the brother" and the "cups"? Thanks!

"A mi hermano se le rompieron la mayoría de los vasos" or "Se le rompieron la mayoría de los vasos a mi hermano"

You have to look at the verb tense and the agreement between the verb and the subject. With:

(Tienes que mirar el tiempo verbal y la concordancia entre verbo y sujeto. Con:)

Mi hermano menor rompió la mayoría de vasos.

You know that "Mi hermano" is the subject.

(Sabes que "Mi hermano" es el sujeto)

"A mi hermano se le rompieron la mayoría de los vasos" has a reflexive verb. The subject is "la mayoría de los vasos". "Se" is used here to indicate that, is what in Spanish we call "se pasivo reflejo".

("A mi hermano se le rompieron la mayoría de los vasos" tiene un verbo reflexivo. El sujeto es "la mayoría de los vasos". "Se" es usado aquí para indicarlo, es lo que en español llamamos "se pasivo reflejo")

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thank you. I just wonder why "A mi hermano se le rompieron la mayoría de los vasos" can use "se"? Which one is the subject and which one is the object? –  Cadenza Jun 18 '12 at 11:21
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@Cadenza I edited the question to explain that. –  Pablo Jun 19 '12 at 17:42
    
thanks for your help very much. I think I need to study the usage more thoroughly. –  Cadenza Jun 26 '12 at 8:55

La segunda frase sólo sería correcta si los vasos fueran parte de "mi hermano" por su carácter reflexivo como muy bien explica BrianA.

Así que un ejemplo de uso con el "se" sería "Mi hermano menor se rompió la mayoría de huesos".

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