What does the pronoun "me" mean in the following sentences ?

  • Se me rompió el vaso.
  • Se me cayó el vaso.

Based on All about datives, or: What's that funny "le" or "me" doing in there?, it seems to me that the sentences could mean:

  • I got (emotionally, physically or financially) harmed when the objects have broken (dative of interest). https://dle.rae.es/dativo seems to agree with this one.
  • I am worried/concerned because the objects broke (ethical dative)
  • My glass and my vase have broken (sympathetic dative)
  • I am making it clear that I have broken the objects accidentally and I am neglecting the responsibility for them. https://www.espanolavanzado.com/gramatica-avanzada/755-dativo-de-interes agrees with this one (aspectual dative).

Uses of "se": "se rompió" o "rompió" is a similar question , but it seems to me that all the answers there are wrong because they only consider the sympathetic dative and the reflexive usage, not the possibilities of ethical dative, dative of interest and aspectual dative.

  • 2
    You might want to read this. As small as the typo might have been, editing your question such that it invalidates my existing answer is not allowed. I have deleted my answer, but please do not do that again. It is a waste of my effort to write an answer.
    – wimi
    Dec 19 '19 at 16:29
  • @wimi Ok, I'm sorry. Anyway, I do not understand why you had to delete your answer. Everything but the initial comment about the pronoun "me" was still relevant after my edit. Dec 19 '19 at 16:32
  • Alan, typos happen. Thanks for apologizing. Water under the bridge, as far as I'm concerned.... Live and learn. // Speaking of which, I would like to provide some question-asking feedback. I appreciate the efforts you have been making to improve your questions -- so that they will add to the value of the site, in addition to adding to your own understanding. So, here's my next bit of feedback for you: As you gain experience, hopefully you will start noticing the tags. Tags help others find an existing answer, when someone else has asked the same thing already. Would... Dec 19 '19 at 17:42
  • ... you like to stick your big toe in the tags water and see if there are any other tags that could help this question get properly catalogued, before I do a tag edit? Dec 19 '19 at 17:42
  • Regarding your hypotheses for the meaning of the sentence in your question: it's good that you are remembering that an indirect object pronoun can have some overlap in function. But I wonder:(a) are you also remembering that context can make a difference? (b) What are your overarching goals as a Spanish learner? Tell us a bit about yourself so we can get to know you better. You have been focusing deeply on IO pronouns recently. Where does that fit in to your goals? Is it important to you to be able to classify and name the function of an individual IO pronoun? Is learning to capture... Dec 19 '19 at 17:47

This might be only a partial answer but I will do the best I can. I am not big on classifying, my strength is in understanding. I will tell you what these sentences mean to me. (But keep in mind that the meaning could be a bit different depending on the context in which they are said.)

  1. Se me rompió el vaso.

    The glass broke, because of something that I did unintentionally.

    (If it had been intentional, this pattern "se me rompió" would not have been used.)

  2. Se me cayó el vaso.

    The glass fell from my hand unintentionally.

    (If it had been intentional, this pattern "se me cayó" would not have been used.)

  • Thanks for the answer! You, wimi and espanolavanzado.com/gramatica-avanzada/755-dativo-de-interes have the same opinion, so I believe it is right. I think this example clearly demonstrates that an indirect/reflexive pronoun can express different meanings in the same context, but sometimes one of those meanings is idiomatically (= arbitrarily) used by native speakers and just can't be logically guessed by a foreigner. Dec 19 '19 at 18:36
  • @AlanEvangelista - Well, that is one way of looking at it. Do you know any German? There are funny little words that can get inserted optionally in a sentence that can soften things. If I'm remembering right, "Mal" is one of them. (Totally different from "mal" in Spanish.) And what about that "up and" we were discussing recently, from English? Here is an analogy: when someone is painting a still life, the artist can put a bit of yellow on the side of a blue vase, just because the vase is sitting next to ... Dec 19 '19 at 18:41
  • ... a yellow banana. The artist sees a yellow reflection that I didn't see, looking at the same objects! When the artist explicitly puts that bit of yellow on the side of the vase, in the painting, ee helps me see the ensemble in a different way than I saw it before. Dec 19 '19 at 18:41
  • Yes, I know German. Indeed German particles are as tough as or tougher than Spanish IO pronouns because they also can convey many meanings and the intended meaning is idiomatic (= arbitrary) in certain contexts. Dec 19 '19 at 18:59
  • @Alan - To me "arbitrary" means some arbiter made a subjective or randomly chosen decision. But that might just be me. // I have found it easier to get the hang of inserting those particles in my pigeon German, then sorting out the pronouns for some of the cases. When you are communicating with people, particles come through your permeable cell membranes. Dec 19 '19 at 19:02

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