On SpanishDict this sentence is given as an example of "mantener":

Manténle la cabeza al bebé con la mano bajo el cuello.
Support the baby's head with your hand under his neck.

What is the exact purpose of 'le' as a suffix on 'mantén' here? It must be a IO pronoun but what does it refer to? Is this a case of "dativo posesivo"? Would "Manténte" give the same translation or would that indicate that the verb is "mantenerse" and have a different meaning? Finally, what would be the negation of this statement?

  • The example is misspelled, it should be mantenle Mar 17 '18 at 21:37

The -le suffix refers to the baby, and is used along with al to show that la cabeza belongs to the baby. This is a very common way of indicating possession in Spanish, and is the same as saying mantén la cabeza del bebé. If you were translating literally, you might say To the baby, support the head....

Another example of this structure is:

A él le han robado el coche.

'They have stolen his car', or more literally: 'to him, they have stolen the car.'

Mantente la cabeza on the other hand, would suggest that you are supporting your own head, and would be analogous to mantén tu cabeza.

The negation of the statement would be:

No le mantengas la cabeza al bebé con la mano bajo el cuello.

  • Note the spelling is mantente not manténte Mar 17 '18 at 21:36
  • You're right. Duly edited Mar 18 '18 at 15:38

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