I read the following sentence in All about datives, or: What's that funny "le" or "me" doing in there? :

Se me quebró el lápiz

I understand that "me" is used to express possession , but what does "se" means here? According to https://dle.rae.es/quebrar , "quebrar" can be used intransitively (eg el lápiz quebró).

1 Answer 1


"quebrarse" (similar to "romperse") is an intransitive pronominal verb. "El lápiz quebró" does not make sense.

Of all the intransitive uses included in DRAE, the only one that is indeed intransitive and non-pronominal is:

  1. intr. Dicho de una empresa o de un negocio: arruinarse (Example: La empresa quebró.)

In all other cases, when intransitive "quebrar" is pronominal: "quebrarse".

- Nuestra relación se quebró.

- El acusado se quebró y confesó la verdad.
  • One more difference between Portuguese and Spanish. In Portuguese, both transitive and intransitive usages are OK. I meant the meaning "13. intr. Ceder, flaquear" before. I thought it applied to the pencil case. Maybe I misunderstood it. Could you give an example with it? Nov 28, 2019 at 12:17
  • @AlanEvangelista Acceptation 13 corresponds to the example: El acusado se quebró (meaning: broke down or gave up/in)
    – Gustavson
    Nov 28, 2019 at 12:22
  • Thanks! So I suppose that the DLE doesn't indicate when the reflexive pronoun is required in a specific meaning of the verb? It'd be clearer to mark that verb usage as pronominal. Nov 28, 2019 at 12:32
  • 1
    @AlanEvangelista I find the DLE to be highly defective in this and many other aspects.
    – Gustavson
    Nov 28, 2019 at 12:43

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