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A lyric from the wonderful song titled Pasos de gigantes by Bacilos:

Tan solo puedo quedarme como un idiota,

pensando en cosas que me provoca hacer contigo en islas perdidas.

My question pertains to the line in bolded font.

Is the subject/verb agreement correct here? If the subject is plural (cosas), then shouldn't the verb be me provocan rather than me provoca?

I understand that songs can be more liberal in adhering to grammar rules. However, this is still great learning experience. And fun, too!

P.S. I'm excited to have learned a use of provocar to mean to like or to feel like doing something. For example:

Me provoca comer = I feel like eating

No me provoca salir a bailar esta noche = I don't feel like going out dancing tonight

¿Te provoca un café? = Would you like a coffee?

UPDATE:

I work with a native Spanish speaker from Venezuela, via the language learning service Verbling.com. Here's some additional info she shared about this question:

provocarse = apetecer = to crave, to lust for, to really really want

She very commonly has this usage of provocarse in her everyday speech.

She gave the following example:

Me provoca comerme un helado = I really want to eat me some icecream

I asked, why 'comerme' and not simply 'comer'. She answered, both are correct, 'comerme' adds emphasis.

Any thoughts?

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    ¿Te provoca un café? is not idiomatic. A more idiomatic way to state this is by saying ¿Te dan ganas de un café? In the same fashion: me dan ganas de comer, no tengo ganas de salir a bailar esta noche.provoca is quite used as in English with the verb provoke. – Alejandro Jul 31 '16 at 18:11
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If we reconstruct the sentence adding back cosas, the result would be:

Me provoca hacer cosas contigo en islas perdidas.

So cosas is the direct object of hacer. Its number doesn't need to match with provoca.

Note that this usage of me provoca as i feel like is regional and it may not be understood by everyone. It's listed in the official RAE dictionary as being informal and pertaining to Colombia, El Salvador, and Venezuela, but it's also used at least in Perú:

  1. tr. coloq. Col., El Salv. y Ven. Incitar el apetito, apetecer, gustar.
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  • Are you suggesting that 'cosas' is the direct object of 'hacer' in the sentence 'pensando en cosas que me provoca hacer contigo en islas perdidas'? – Rock Anthony Johnson Jul 31 '16 at 19:34
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    @RockAnthonyJohnson no. Formally, in the original sentence the whole en cosas que me provoca... is a complement of pensando, and que me provoca... is a modifier of cosas. However, to see if an agreement is needed it is useful to reconstruct the sentence as I did to see where cosas would fit. – rsanchez Jul 31 '16 at 19:44
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    @CarlosAlejo just change provoca to apetece to get the meaning in peninsular Spanish. – rsanchez Jul 31 '16 at 20:59
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    @RockAnthonyJohnson Oh, no, this usage is transitive. But the direct object is the subordinate hacer cosas contigo en islas perdidas. Cosas is the direct object in the subordinate. Me provoca is an impersonal construction, so it can never be plural. – Gorpik Aug 1 '16 at 8:09
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    @Gorpik al comienzo pensaba que era una construcción impersonal, pero me parece que hacer cosas... es el sujeto y me el objeto directo, igual que con me gusta. – rsanchez Aug 1 '16 at 14:14
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You're right. The subject/verb agreement should've been

(...) pensando en cosas que me provocan (...)

In order for this to be provoca, the sentence should've been

(...) pensando en una cosa que me provoca (...)

Songs tend to do modifications in the lyrics. These changes have an effect on the grammar, understandable for Spanish native speakers but confusing for learners.

Anyhow, well spotted!


¿Te provoca un café? is not idiomatic. A more idiomatic way to state this is by saying ¿Te dan ganas de un café? In the same fashion: me dan ganas de comer, no tengo ganas de salir a bailar esta noche.provoca is quite used as in English with the verb provoke.

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  • I found on SpanishDict.com an entry that says 'provocar' can also mean 'gustar' or 'apetecer'. It also suggests that this usage is used primarily within Latinoamérica. If a native speaker said to you, 'No me provoca la idea,' what would that mean to you? – Rock Anthony Johnson Jul 31 '16 at 20:16
  • @RockAnthonyJohnson Nothing, it wouldn't make sense to me. – Alejandro Jul 31 '16 at 21:21
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provocar can also mean, according to the Spanish Academy of Language, "Excitar en alguien el deseo sexual" (so basically make someone feel sexual desire). I think that in your song this is the meaning given:

pensando en cosas que me provoca hacer contigo en islas perdidas.

"Thinking about things that sexually excite me to do with you in lost islands"

However, I don't find the sentence in Spanish completely right, there is something that just doesn't click so I don't know. I'm sorry!

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    You should've added this as a comment because it doesn't answer the question. – Alejandro Jul 31 '16 at 18:12

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