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Just wondering when writing in Spanish whether one would write:

sus vidas — "their lives"

Or

su vida — "their life"

e.g. "it changed their lives" or "it changed their life", when refering to multiple people.

  • isn't "their life" singular for the neutral gender ? – Mike Nov 25 '19 at 21:04
  • @Mike - Well, I think so. But note that "It changed their lives" is also a valid sentence -- "Having a second baby completely changed their lives." (The baby affected them in different ways -- but profoundly in both cases.) – aparente001 Nov 26 '19 at 3:34
  • @Mike What? “Their life” is if they, for example a couple, share a life – gen-z ready to perish Nov 28 '19 at 3:21
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If "su/s" refers to "they", the singular will indicate that they have something in common (their life together), while the plural will point to their having individual or separate lives.

  • Su vida cambió a partir de que se casaron. (Their life -- their joint life, their life as a couple -- changed after they got married.)

  • Sus vidas cambiaron a partir de que se casaron. (Their lives changed after they got married.)

1

The way we express "This diet changed their lives" in Spanish is

Esta dieta les cambió la vida.

or

Esta dieta les ha cambiado la vida.

You could make it a little more dramatic by adding "para siempre" if you like.

If you want to see some examples of natural usage online you could look for la biblia me cambió la vida -- that's a very common one.

Sure, one does sometimes see formulations such as "cambió sus vidas," but that is not idiomatic. It is the result of the influence of English, and it's not the natural way to express this in Spanish.

  • I think we can use the simple translation: "esta dita cambio sus vidas" and also "esta dieta LES cambio su vida", as long as we include the plural direct object then it can be considered plural – Mike Nov 25 '19 at 21:03
  • @Mike - I feel like dieta is going to be similar to some appendage or body part (e.g. mano). So, I think omitting "su/sus" is much better. Maybe it's just me. – aparente001 Nov 25 '19 at 21:39
  • you are right, using "sus" with "les" even sounds a little bit cacophonic, it can even be considered a pleonasm – Mike Nov 25 '19 at 21:42
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    @Mike Esta dieta les cambió su vida is not good Spanish. You should say: Esta dieta les cambió la vida. – Gustavson Nov 25 '19 at 22:11
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    @aparente001 Cacophonic means that it has an ugly sound, Pleonasm means that it's being redundant and unnecessary, Example : "the broken window is shattered" – Mike Nov 25 '19 at 23:13
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Both are correct (see for example here). I would prefer the plural form (cambió sus vidas) to avoid ambiguity, especially in this case (third person) where there is no other plural indicator in the sentence.

  • The second one is not ambiguous. It's correct, but it means a different thing. Sus vidas = their lives. Su vida = his life / her life – FGSUZ Nov 23 '19 at 23:41
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    @FGSUZ But su is in fact ambiguous; the difference between su and sus is not the difference between "his/her" and "their". It cannot be translated into English because English possessive pronouns don't agree with the possession's number. – pablodf76 Nov 24 '19 at 1:35
  • @FGSUZ "Their life" would be "su vida", that would be ambiguous. – wimi Nov 24 '19 at 7:32
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Charlie Nov 26 '19 at 8:08

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