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I'm currently learning the present perfect tense in my Spanish course, the following examples make sense to me and I don't have trouble understanding them:

  1. "He visto las montañas de Perú" = I have seen the mountains of Peru"
  2. "Has ido a Alemanía" = You have gone to Germany

On my homework I was asked to translated the following sentence:

"¿Le has dicho a los niños que tienen que sacar la basura?"

I am very confused about the "le" and who it is referring to. Breaking down the sentence into smaller pieces, here is my understanding:

  • "Le" = him / her
  • "has dicho" = have you told
  • "a los niños" = (to) the children
  • "que tienen que sacar la basura" = that they have to take out the trash

If I combine these pieces and try to form a full sentence, I end up with:

Have you told him that the kids have to take out the trash?

I am not sure if this is correct - the "a" in "a los niños" makes me think "to the kids" and not "that the kids." Part of me is wondering if there was an error in the homework and it should be "¿Les has dicho a los niños que tienen que sacar la basura?" (using both the indirect pronoun and the indirect object noun for emphasis).

Can someone help me out with this one?

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This paragraph of your question

I am not sure if this is correct - the "a" in "a los niños" makes me think "to the kids" and not "that the kids." Part of me is wondering if there was an error in the homework and it should be "¿Les has dicho a los niños que tienen que sacar la basura?" (using both the indirect pronoun and the indirect object noun for emphasis).

it is totally correct (for which I congratulate you).

There is the frequent mistake of always using "le", but the rule is that there must be concordance. Therefore, if they are "niños" (plural), it must be "les" (plural). This error, although it is common in native speakers and is not really very serious, should not be in a language course!

And yes, in Spanish it is normal to use the pronoun and the noun that correspond to the indirect object at the same time. The pronoun is redundant, but that's okay. Therefore these two sentences mean exactly the same thing:

¿Les has dicho a los niños que tienen que sacar la basura?

¿Has dicho a los niños que tienen que sacar la basura?

(I won't translate it for you).

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  • Gracias por tu ayuda Rodrigo - I asked my teacher and she told me that it is an error in the sentence, just as you suspected. I appreciate you pointing out that it is a common mistake of using "le" in a situation like this. I was confused for the exact reason you mentioned, because the niños are plural and "le" was not. The translation would be "Have you told the children they have to take out the trash?" - correct? :) Jul 5, 2023 at 14:04
  • Exactly, that's the correct translation.
    – Rodrigo
    Jul 5, 2023 at 14:21

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