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In the following sentence from a Duolingo podcast why is "me explotó" used?

Me explotó una bomba a pocos metros de la cabeza.
A bomb exploded a few metres from my head

Why is the "me" needed?

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    This has been already answered (see link above). It's a sympathetic dative. In short, me signals that la cabeza belongs to the speaker. – pablodf76 Aug 28 '19 at 13:04
  • Notice that in your sentence the determiner "la" has been translated to "my", but its equivalent in English is "the". If you got "A bomb exploded a few metres from the head" Whose head? That's why "me" appears there. More detailed info in the linked question. – RubioRic Aug 29 '19 at 5:58
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Me explotó una bomba a pocos metros de la cabeza.
A bomb exploded a few metres from my head

Why is the "me" needed?

If you don't put that Me there, it's not clear whose head is.

You would have to construct a different sentence, such as Una bomba explotó a pocos metros de mi cabeza.. Note the mi in the alternative construction.

Hope that helped.

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