1

I was listening to a mexican podcast and heard the sentence:

así que se la pasaba merodeando cerca de mi casa.

As a native english speaker it feels much more comfortable to say:

así que (ella) estaba merodeando cerca de mi casa.

What are the differences between the two?

1

As you asked in English, here is an answer in English.

The phrase "se la pasaba + gerund" can roughly be translated as "she spent her time + -ing", or "she kept + -ing". This phrase indicates that the action happened often, and during relatively long periods of time. It implies (sometimes exaggerating) that the action took up considerable chunks of the subject's time. For example:

  • No tenía nada que hacer, y se la pasaba viendo vídeos en Youtube (She did not have anything to do, and she spent her time watching Youtube videos)

or, in present tense,

  • Desde que empezaron a vivir juntos, se la pasan discutiendo (Since they moved in together, they keep arguing).

Note: the phrase "se la pasa(ba) + gerund" seems to me more common in (some countries of) Latin America. I am not used to hearing it in Spain, where it is more common to say "se pasa(ba) [el día/el tiempo/la vida] + gerund".

On the other hand, the phrase "estaba + gerund" is the standard past continuous tense, and describes what the subject was doing at a specific, single point of time in the past (similar to "was + -ing" in English):

  • Cuando volví del trabajo, vi que ella estaba merodeando cerca de mi casa (When I came back from work, I saw that she was hanging around near my house).
1

Hay que preguntarle al verbo:

  • ¿Quién se pasaba? No se menciona.
  • ¿Qué se pasaba? Tampoco se menciona. El verbo tiene muchísimos sigfinicados que dependen del contexto, pero junto a «merodeando» es seguro que se refiere al paso del tiempo.

El articulo "la" que precede al verbo pasar se refiere al momento en que pasa, un periodo de tiempo femenino, y que seguramente es mencionado previamente, y no al sujeto, que también se omite, pero tampoco aparece, y no es necesariamente femenino. La frase sin omisiones podría ser algo como:

Así que [Manolo] se pasaba [la noche] merodeando cerca de mi casa.

Y tal como está, tendría sentido en un contexto como:

[Manolo no tenía nada que hacer durante la noche], así que se la pasaba merodeando cerca de mi casa.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.