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I need someone to translate the following sentence: ¿Qué te tal te van tus vacaciones?

I need to know how this is translated so that I can get a better understanding of how pronouns work. I need to see how it is broken down, and how it corresponds to English.

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[First off, let me tell you your sentence is agrammatical as it is and I can grant you any Spanish speaker would struggle in understanding what you are trying to say. The "te" between "Qué" and "tal" shouldn't be there, so the right sentence would be "¿Qué tal te van tus vacaciones?"]

Qué tal – a fixed expression meaning "how" (¿Qué tal? = How are you? / How are you doing?)

te – to you or for you

van – go (third person plural)

tus – your (plural)

vacaciones – holidays (in Spanish, "holiday" is always plural)

¿Qué tal te van tus vacaciones? = (lit.) How do your holidays go for you?

The meaning of this particular phrase is ambiguous, its interpretation depending on the context. The reason for that is that the use of "te" (for you) there is a little bit misleading. There are two options: it is either an ethic dative (see this post), and thus it wouldn't add any relevant information and would be perfectly elidible without changing the sentence's meaning; or an IO pronoun of the verb ir a uno or venir a uno. In the latter scenario, the verb ir a uno (it sounds really awkward in its infinitive form because it's always used conjugated) is slang for "work (alright)":

A: ¿Qué día te va/viene mejor? B: El sábado me va/viene bien.

A: What day works best for you? B: Saturday's fine for me.

Then, the "te" would be a IO pronoun, and the sentence would go like:

How is your holiday working for you? or Does your holiday work for you?

Are you okay with your holiday? [as in, do you have any objections?]

This could make sense if, say, your boss were scheduling the holiday days of his/her workers and asked you if the days scheduled for your holiday work for you or if you are okay with them.

However, I think the first case is the most likely here. The pronoun "te" as an ethic dative is common place in everyday speech, but should be avoided when writing or in formal contexts. If this really is an ethic dative, then you can just skip it and the sentence would go something like:

How is your holiday going?

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  • Thank you very much for the in depth analysis! It really helped. I have one more question. Why is "van" in the third person plural? Shouldn't it be second person singular since the question is directed towards me, one person? Is "van" referring to "vacaciones," which is plural? – Wesley Dec 27 '15 at 22:47
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    That's right. Here, "holidays" is the subject, so the verb should agree with it in person and number; i.e. third person plural. – Yay Dec 27 '15 at 22:50

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