No se le habia pasado la hora.

I don't understand the se and the le here. Se must be indirect since it comes first, or it is reflexive; but I don't recognize this as a reflexive verb. The le seems to refer to la hora, but why indirect? Wouldn't la work just as well?

3 Answers 3


The RAE defines pasar in the definition #56 and #58 as:

  1. Prnl. Olvidarse o borrarse de la memoria algo.
  2. Prnl. Dicho de algunas cosas: Perderse la ocasión o el tiempo de que logren su actividad en el efecto.

Prnl. means here "pronominal", which means the verb takes a pronoun. Since it's always necessary for the verb to mean what you want to mean and it changes the meaning of the verb, the pronoun "se" is called a pronominal verb marker. Maybe it's easier to see if you just get rid of the "le": in La hora se pasó (You/we missed the [right] time), it is clear that "la hora" is the Subject and "se" is a reflexive pronoun. This pronoun is common with verbs of movement, and actually in La hora se pasó there is a metaphorical movement: you can almost picture a time (as in an opportunity) passing by without you seizing it. Now add an IO to specify who the right time passed by for and you'll see the corresponding pronoun for that IO should be le/les (or me/te/nos/os).

No. 56 means "to forget, to slip out of someone's mind". No. 58 means "said of some things, to miss an occasion or the right time for them to work they way they are supposed to". Both kind of match your sentence but aren't perfect fits. Since "pasar(se)" is a verb with about 70 definitions, your sentence is irremediably ambiguous without context. The interpretations I find more likely are:

To be late, or to lose track of time: "Me puse a leer y se me pasó la hora de la cita".
To be old: "Se cree atractivo pero se le ha pasado la hora".
To miss a chance: "Se le pasó la hora de apuntarse al concurso y ahora ya no puede participar". To run out of time: "Me puse a hacer el examen y antes de que pudiera terminar ya se me había pasado la hora".

So he/she either wasn't late, wasn't old, didn't run out of time or didn't miss a chance.

  • @guifa Thank you both so much for the wonderful explanations. From the context (Tuck Para Siempre) I take it to mean that the girl hadn't missed her chance, hadn't run out of time. Apr 9, 2016 at 12:52

le can't be la hora because la hora is the subject. The sentence doesn't have enough information to determine who le refers to, but it could be usted, él, ella, or something else singular. Whenever you have multiple object pronouns, despite what many textbooks may say, regardless their function, the order is always se + 2nd person + 1st person + 3rd person (specifically, se, te, os, me, nos, le, les, lo, la, los, las — not all combinations are possible, obviously).

If you have the verb presentar, and you told me that a friend of ours introduced one of us to the other, the sentence actually end up 100% ambiguous: ¿no te acuerdas? Juan te me presentó. it could be you were introduced to me or I was introduced to you.

In any case, pasar has a number of reflexive uses including (from the DRAE)

pasar 55. prnl. Acabarse o dejar de ser.

Technically, this isn't reflexive in the sense that there's no action being performed back on the subject, but this usage is call pronominal, that is, it requires —always— a reflexive object, despite not being reflexive in meaning. In any case, we get pasarse meaning to end or conclude, and la hora as the subject, with le being done unspecified person.

So this sentence means, basically, time hasn't run out on him.


"Juan te me presentó." only means "Juan introduced me to you." "Juan introduced you to me." would be "Juan te presentó a mí."

While the order of the object pronouns is: se + te/os + me/nos +lo(s), la(s), le(s), it should be noted that indirect object pronouns precede direct object pronouns. Because "me" cannot precede "te", the corresponding tonic personal pronoun "mí" is used instead.

  • The question was about the use of se and le together which your answer does not appear to address.
    – mdewey
    Dec 2, 2022 at 11:54
  • muchas gracias. esto es muy útil y fácil de entender. Dec 3, 2022 at 10:07

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.