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Google translate (Spanish → English) is confusing me lately (either that, or it's confused):

Google Translate (español → inglés) está confundiéndome recientemente (o eso sí está confundido):

Él me cae bien

translates to / se traduce a

I like him

But, when I enter / Pero, cuando introduzco

Ella me cae bien

this translates to / ésto se traduce a

She likes me

Notice the swapped subject and object. Observe el sujeto y el objeto intercambiados.

Which is grammatically correct? ¿Cual es correcta gramaticalmente?

P.S. I do agree that the subject and object in the above statements are "transitive" (i.e. they are semantically equal no matter the order). But, I'm more curious about the specific translation here.

PD Sí, estoy de acuerdo en que el sujeto y el objeto en las frases anteriores son "transitivas" (es decir, son semánticamente iguales, no importa el orden). Pero, estoy más curioso sobre de la traducción específica aquí.

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  • Please roll back my edit if necessary. I replaced "transliteration" with "translation." Here's an example of what I understand for transliteration: When Germans transliterated Russian words they used their phonetic system. Thus, in "Tchaikovsky," the V that we see there should actually be pronounced like our F. May 6 '17 at 20:57
  • @aparente001: thanks, my use of "transliteration" was (semantically) incorrect here. Also, thanks for pointing out the subtle distinction between gustar and caer in your comment below.
    – pr1268
    May 8 '17 at 10:18
  • Yes, that's a good lesson to learn early on to avoid misunderstandings or embarrassment. I think most texts for learning Spanish don't make a clear point about this. May 9 '17 at 4:26
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Google Translate is confused about the second sentence (why I don't know). If you've already grasped the somewhat convoluted grammar of the verb gustar, then you should have no problem grasping caer bien, because in this respect they work mostly in the same way.

Both these pairs mean essentially* the same thing:

  • Él me gusta. / Me gusta él.
  • Él me cae bien. / Me cae bien él.

The meaning is "I like him." Substitute ella for él and the meaning changes, of course, to "I like her."

*Note well: gustar (when the subject is a person) has a sexual connotation that caer bien lacks. So caer bien is actually safer for a non-native speaker unsure of the context.

Now about the grammar: formally, in Ella me cae bien, the subject is ella and me is the indirect object. They function as in the phrase Ella me dio un beso ("She gave me a kiss"). You can't analyze such things by examining the English translation (much less a Google translation).

If you wanted to swap the actors, it would have to be Yo le caigo bien a ella ("She likes me"). You can omit a ella, but le has no gender so you have to rely on context if there's both an ella and an él nearby.

Caer in this usage means "affect", "induce a certain state of mind", "produce a given sensation". Caer of course means "to fall", or sometimes "to land". Imagine something or someone falls on you, or lands on you, figuratively. It may land right and softly, or it may fall on you like a ton of bricks. That's the idea behind caer bien and its antonym caer mal (also caer fatal and others).

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  • Great grammatical explanation and nice development of intuition about caer. Let's make sure the OP knows that caer is a great way to prevent misunderstandings that can occur with gustar (which might be assumed to have a sexual connotation). I wouldn't have mentioned this except that your answer might lead someone to think that the two verbs are interchangeable. May 6 '17 at 20:59
  • @aparente001 That's a very pertinent observation. I'm adding it to my answer now.
    – pablodf76
    May 6 '17 at 21:04
  • @pablodf76 (and aparente001): thank you for the answer and comments. I consider myself fluent with gustar and caer (in this context), but while I might like her, she might not like me. Thus, my original question bears some importance here. :-)
    – pr1268
    May 6 '17 at 23:32
  • @pablodf76: also, your comment regarding the metaphorical usage of caer reminds me of llevar bien (as in "Nos llevamos bien") -- perhaps somewhat related?
    – pr1268
    May 8 '17 at 10:21
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    @pr1268 Yes. Actually nos caemos bien ~ nos llevamos bien.
    – pablodf76
    May 8 '17 at 10:23

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