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How should "to have been told" be translated?

I am often unsure how to translate the phrase to have been told into Spanish. For example, "I have been told that...". I normally translate that phrase to "Se me ha dicho que...", but I am unsure if it is correct (or why it would be correct). What is the correct way to translate this?


¿Cómo se puede traducir al español "to have been told"?

Muchas veces tengo dudas sobre la traducción al español del frase inglés to have been told. Por ejemplo, "I have been told that...". Normalmente traduzco esta frase como "Se me ha dicho que..." pero no estoy seguro de que sea correcto (ni por qué lo sería). ¿Cuál es la manera correcta de traducirlo?

  • I have seen How should “have been” be translated? but it does not touch on this usage of "have been". – Caesar May 24 '13 at 16:18
  • @fedorqui I don't exactly mind the structure of the title of my question being changed, but I take exception to incorrect grammar being introduced – especially on a linguistics site! "How to translate X" is not a question. – Caesar Jan 5 '17 at 22:30
  • As in Spanish, cómo traducir X sounds very idiomatic and we use it quite a lot this way. As in English, I did not know it is incorrect; it is not my mother tongue, so I cannot tell, but I had seen it quite a lot in both English Language & Usage (list) and English Language Learners (list). Probably better without the ending ? but I still thought it is right. – fedorqui 'SO stop harming' Jan 5 '17 at 22:52
  • It's very common (and increasingly so) to see that structure in English, but it's considered to be very poor grammar; it's certainly not correct. Though as you say, without the question mark it would be fine, and may perhaps sound better than my correction. I'm not sure if you're saying it is correct in Spanish with the question mark – if so I am surprised, but as I'm not a native speaker I'm not in a position to disagree! Apologies, anyway, as re-reading my last comment it sounds a little harsh in tone… :-) – Caesar Jan 5 '17 at 23:13
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    It is fine :) Let's leave your correction, since the idea is to have questions as titles of... questions. It is interesting the matter you brought to attention, I hadn't thought about it and blindly assumed how to translate X was just fine. Thinking about Spanish, during the day I had to recognise myself that it is more idiomatic to say ¿Cómo se traduce X? or ¿Cómo se puede traducir X?, rather than just ¿Cómo traducir X?. I take note of this discussion for future editions, thanks! – fedorqui 'SO stop harming' Jan 6 '17 at 23:22
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"Se me ha dicho que...", "me han dicho que...", even the less accurate "me dijeron que..." (literally, "they told me that") are all acceptable alternatives.

IMO, "Me han dicho que" sounds better (except maybe in Argentina and particularly in Buenos Aires, where you'll hear "me dijeron que..." more often).

On a side note, your usage of "porque" in "ni porque lo sería" is wrong. When used to ask (or to wonder why) you write "por qué"; only when used affirmatively you write "porque". Examples in Argentine Spanish:

Why do you ask? ¿Por qué preguntás?
I don't know why she did it. No sé por qué lo hizo.
Because she's a maniac. Porque es una maniática.

  • Whoops, I should have known that about por qué etc. Thanks for correcting me! I will fix the question. – Caesar May 24 '13 at 16:38
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    It's a very common mistake, actually. But I try to point out mistakes steming out from linguistic asymmetries. In Spanish, both ways sound the same in practice. – LexLythius May 24 '13 at 16:40
  • Why is it se me ha dicho que - can you edit your answer to explain the grammar here? What does the se refer to in this phrase? – Caesar May 24 '13 at 16:41
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    "Se me ha dicho", as well as "se ha dicho" is an impersonal form, what Wikipedia would call "weasel wording". – LexLythius May 24 '13 at 16:42
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    @LexLythius For real weasel wording examples nothing better than newspapers ("Se habría dicho que ...","Los especialistas habrían comentado que..." ) – Dr. belisarius May 24 '13 at 20:18
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Altough the literal translation for "I have been told" is "se me ha dicho que", it's quite uncommon in regular conversation, at least in Mexico, because it is a very formal expression. It would be right if you use it to talk about orders, for example:

—¿Por qué hiciste eso?
Why did you do that?

—Se me ha dicho que lo haga.
Because I have been told so.

But if you just want to talk about gossip or something someone said it will be better if you traslate like: "Me contaron que" o "Me dijeron que".

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