I just learned the phrase "que no se te olvide ..." from that new Selena Gomez song. It seems to be an emphatic "don't you forget it". It took me awhile to wrap my head around the grammar -- the subject is the thing you shouldn't forget, the verb is olvidarse in subjunctive, and the indirect object is te.

This seems like the complete reverse of the phrase "no te olvides el paraguas" where the subject is tú and the direct object is el paraguas. Are there many other verbs in Spanish where the subject and object can be swapped like this and keep the same basic meaning?

I'm familiar with impersonal se and passive se, but this seems like something different, is there another name for this type of phrase?

Also, I can't seem to find any examples of a sentence beginning with "No se te olvide", why do sentences always start with "Que no se te olvide" or "Y no se te olvide", is it just because the subjunctive case necessitates a conjunction?

2 Answers 2


In the sentence:

  1. No te olvides el paraguas.

"te" is not really parsed as the indirect object but is a dative that can be used if we decide to use the pronominal "olvidarse" rather than the non-pronominal "olvidar":

  1. No olvides el paraguas.

The particle "se" indicates passive:

  1. Que no se te olvide / Y no se te olvide (Que / Y no sea olvidado por ti.)

Curiously, with the "se" passive "te" functions as an indirect object. Proof of this is that we can use the double indirect object "a ti":

  1. Que no se te olvide a ti / Y no se te olvide a ti.

However, when turning the passive with "se" into a periphrastic passive (which is highly unidiomatic in this case), the pronoun "te" needs to be replaced by the agent "por ti" (as shown between parentheses under (3) above).

The sentences under (3) will be used when what must not be forgotten has already been mentioned.

However, they can also be used with a posposed subject:

  • Que no se te olvide que tienes que hacer la tarea.
  • Y no se te olvide que mañana es el cumpleaños de Juan.

Since they are in the subjunctive mood, they will sound more idiomatic with the initial conjunction. If the conjunction is not there, we tend to use the imperative:

  • No (te) olvides que tienes que hacer la tarea.
  • No (te) olvides que mañana es el cumpleaños de Juan.
  • ¿Es posible que también se trate del uso de ‘se’ para expresar involuntariedad? svfspanish.com/se-involuntariedad
    – Traveller
    Jan 18, 2021 at 15:36
  • In case 3, "te" is the indirect object, whereas in 1 it's the reflexive pronoun, right?
    – Andy
    Jan 18, 2021 at 17:10
  • and by indirect object I mean dative case. I thought that something in dative case is always considered an indirect object but I guess I'm wrong?
    – Andy
    Jan 18, 2021 at 21:56
  • 1
    @Andy I have added a sentence to my reply. Not all datives function as indirect objects. The famous grammarian Andrés Bello classified datives into objective datives (which function as indirect objects) and datives of interest (which do not function as indirect objects). I agree with you that in (3) "te" functions as an indirect object because of the passive voice (this is something I was not aware of until I read your comment and made the addition I mentioned).
    – Gustavson
    Jan 19, 2021 at 13:40
  • 1
    @Andy In (1), "te" is not reflexive, because the person is not asked not to forget themselves (for a pronoun to be reflexive, subject and object have to coincide, as in "no te mires tanto": don't look at yourself so much). In "no te olvides", "te" indicates that the verb is pronominal, and is a dative, not an indirect object.
    – Gustavson
    Jan 19, 2021 at 13:40

In Argentina (probably in other countries too) the difference would be that "Que no se te olvide" suggests something bad would happen if you forget it. And "No te olvides" just reminds someone not to forget.

A stronger emphasis on suggesting something bad could happen, or even as a threat, is "Que no se te llegue a olvidar"

  • 1
    Yeah, I think this is why "que no se te olvide" is often translated as "don't you forget it", because that English phrase also suggests something bad could happen, and it can be used in a threatening manner too. Or even more emphatically, "don't you dare forget it"
    – Andy
    Jan 25, 2021 at 16:24

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