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I have few questions:

  1. In the example "Te veo los ojos", in English that is "I see your eyes". te=your, right? IF I change the sentence to "Se veo los ojos", then it will become "I see his/her/its/your eyes"? Are these two sentences missing the subjects?

  2. "Veo tus ojos" & "Te veo los ojos" both have the same meaning, only grammatically different? And if there is any tone difference? I mean, during what condition do the spanish people say each of them?

  3. Is "te" a dative pronoun here? If I do not want to use the pronoun, how can I say it in Spanish?

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2 Answers

'te' in this example means 'you', not 'your'. Example:

Te veo. → I see you.

So a literal, word-for-word translation of "Te veo los ojos" would be I see you the eyes.

You are correct that "Veo tus ojos" has the same meaning. I believe the reason that "Te veo los ojos" comes from a cultural aversion* to referring specifically to body parts. Referring to "your eyes" or "my eyes" or "his eyes" is considered a little less polite than referring to "the eyes."

The way to avoid using 'te' is just as you said, to say "Veo tus ojos." This will probably be understood by everyone, but might seem less polite, particularly in some contexts.

Another common example I have seen of referring to body parts this way would be signs in restaurant restrooms instructing employees to "Lave las manos" (Although I have also seen "Lave sus manos").

*I'm sure someone who's more familiar with the cultures of various Spanish-speaking countries can speak more directly to this phenomenon--or it might make a good question of its own.

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"Te veo los ojos" seems to be complicate in grammar. I still feel confused. –  Cadenza Jul 13 '12 at 17:36
Is "te" the indirect object here (the recipient of the action)? If so, wouldn't the his/her version be "le veo los ojos"? If this is true, it feels like "I see the eyes and you're the one who's receiving my look". –  wbyoung Nov 22 '13 at 20:08
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Regarding your se veo los ojos sentence. I'm not a native speaker but I don't believe this is correct. The pronoun se is reflexive. The English equivalent would be himself/herself/itself. From here: "A reflexive pronoun is used when the subject of the sentence is both the agent of and the recipient of the action of the verb." If I heard this sentence I would think you were trying to say something like, "I see myself in your eyes." In order to say this you would need to say Se te veo en tus ojos.

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