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On the DELE (Diplomas de Español como Lengua Extanjera) some years ago this (simplfied) sentence was given:

Estaba cansado de las quejas de su hija porque sus compañeras ____ ensuciaban las puntas de las trenzas en el tintero.

The 3 choices were: les, le, la; and la was the correct answer.

I understand what the sentence means but I do not understand how to parse the clause "porque ...".
In other words: what are the grammatical roles of "la", compañeras and puntas in that clause?
I'm asking a technical question. What rule is being used to select "la"? Is this something special about ensuciar?

  • And nobody else have noticed the mistake in the text: "de laS quejas de su hija"? – Jdamian Jan 24 '18 at 13:17
  • @Jdamian We noticed some others, but not that one. It is corrected now :) Remember that you can edit posts if you feel you can enhance them in a significant way. – walen Jan 25 '18 at 8:37
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If it's of any consolation to you, I would have chosen le with 100% confidence.

The "correct" answer is actually wrong IMO, since the direct object to ensuciaban is las puntas, so the missing pronoun can only point to the indirect object su hija; thus, the answer must be le, not la:

Estaba cansado de la quejas de su hija porque sus compañeras le ensuciaban las puntas de las trenzas en el tintero.

DPD link above basically says that the indirect object pronoun is always le(s) or se, not la.

This seems to be a case of .

  • 1
    OK, I agree. I think the answer key I was given is wrong. – T Mc Jan 23 '18 at 18:17
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    I would have said "la" in natural speech because I'm a laísta but Standard Spanish dictates only le, and that's the only thing I would ever use for a test. – guifa Jan 23 '18 at 18:45
  • Yes in this case it is definitely le – Joze Jan 23 '18 at 18:53
  • The fact that the DELE makes such mistakes worries me... IMHO laísmo is not difficult to spot at all if you master Spanish, and the people that prepare the exams should. – Alicia Jan 24 '18 at 12:37
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    @rsanchez The website was added to the question later, by a different user. We don't know if OP was talking about an official or unofficial website. – walen Jan 25 '18 at 6:48

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