4

So I know that there are direct object pronouns in Spanish. Normally, you could substitue the direct object noun (i.e. the object, like in "I walked the dog," where the direct object is the dog) with the direct object pronoun ("I walked it") and vice versa. But, in cases where the direct object is a person, you would either have to say their name or their pronoun (i.e. "I saw Dave" vs "I saw him"). Normally, this wouldn't be as much of a problem because I could always switch out the actual person object with the pronoun, but in cases where it is not talking about a specified person or that it's indefinite.

So, normally you could use "lo" as the direct object pronoun for him, and I'm fairly certain this is how I should do it (i.e. "Veo a Dave" vs "Lo veo"). But I'm not sure about how to say "I am him."

When I looked it up on Google Translate (which I know is bad), it kept saying "Yo soy él", and it also said when I searched it up that to provide clarity I could say "a él" after the direct object pronoun, but I'm not sure if this is correct because it's not the correct direct object pronoun. The biggest struggle is that I can only use pronouns, because there is not a definite object to refer to. So does anyone know how I'd say "I am him" or any others similar to it like "I am her" or "I am them" etc?

5
  • 1
    ¿Y cuál sería el sentido de I am him? Yo soy yo, no soy él. Esto violaría el principio de autoidentidad. Aún así no veo que haya mucha ciencia: si querés plantear la posibilidad de ser distinto de vos mismo, simplemente decí ‘yo soy él’. Lo mismo con ‘them’, en ese caso sería ‘yo soy ellos’, pero no hay teoría que atribuya posibilidad alguna a ser muchas personas a la vez. Disculpen, pero yo no entiendo si realmente hay una pregunta
    – tac
    Aug 30, 2023 at 1:48
  • @tac Person 1: Who is the one who did this? Person 2: I am him. OR I am the one who did that.
    – Lambie
    Sep 6, 2023 at 16:18
  • @Lambie Entonces el problema del OP es diferente del que creía tener: ‘I am him’ no significa que yo sea él. Simplemente es una expresión idiomática que usan ustedes, que para nosotros no tiene ningún sentido y lo que debemos hacer es encontrar equivalentes apropiados. Persona 1: ¿Quién hizo esto? Persona 2: fui yo. Así es como hay que traducirlo. Pero aún me hace ruido que el OP haya dicho ‘I am them’, no se me ocurre un ejemplo en el que eso tenga sentido
    – tac
    Sep 7, 2023 at 1:21
  • @tac ‘yo soy él’. = I am him. ¿ porque complicar??
    – Lambie
    Sep 7, 2023 at 15:47
  • @Lambie Porque ‘ser’ no tiene el mismo sentido en ambos casos. Nosotros lo pensamos mucho más literal, por lo tanto no creo que esa traducción funcione. Todavía no veo respuesta por el ‘I am them’
    – tac
    Sep 7, 2023 at 15:48

2 Answers 2

5

The sentences:

  • Lo veo (Veo a Dave)

and

  • Soy él (Soy Dave)

are completely different, and thus require a different pronoun after the verb, because "ver" is transitive (and followed by an object) while "ser" is intransitive copulative (and followed by a subject complement).

If pronominal, the object takes the objective (or accusative) form of the pronoun (in this case, "lo") while the subject complement takes the subjective (or nominative) form of the pronoun (in this case, "él").

What may be confusing is that in English the accusative case is used in both cases:

  • I see him.
  • I am him.

In Spanish, the accusative will be used for objects and the nominative will be used for subject complements:

  • I help him = Lo ayudo
  • I look like him = Parezco él.
9
  • pronominal in English is not understood by most English speakers. I do not understand what you mean. We also do not say accusative. We say subject and object pronouns: I versus me.
    – Lambie
    Aug 31, 2023 at 18:22
  • 3
    Sorry, but some grammar terms cannot be expressed otherwise. And getting to learn them may be enlightening.
    – Gustavson
    Sep 1, 2023 at 1:14
  • @Lambie as an English speaker I found it really helpful to learn from this site that there are pronominal verbs in Spanish. It may even have been my most important single lesson.
    – mdewey
    Sep 1, 2023 at 12:22
  • 3
    @Lambie pronominal and reflexive are not the same in Spanish. Reflexive is a subset of pronominal. For example "Los planetas se atraen" is pronominal but not reflexive: the planets attract each other, not themselves. This is why learned Spanish speakers are reluctant to use the word reflexive when talking about pronominal verbs. We should not write wrong statements just because English does not have the words to write correct statements about Spanish grammar.
    – wimi
    Sep 3, 2023 at 20:50
  • 2
    @wimi Actually, "atraerse" in your example is reciprocal. What needs to be understood is that verbs like "sentarse" (sit down), "pararse" (stand up), "levantarse" (get up) cannot be called "reflexive" proper because the subject is not also the object, as is the case with reflexive verbs like "peinarse", "lavarse", "afeitarse". In traditional grammar, pronominal verbs were called quasi-reflexive (cuasirreflejos). There are some verbs that can be interpreted as reflexive ("lastimarse", meaning "inflict injuries on oneself") or pronominal (get hurt). There's a big difference.
    – Gustavson
    Sep 3, 2023 at 21:40
3

In English, I believe that grammatically the correct statements are,"I am he","I am she",etc.

Therefore, these statements are proper if someone asks "Are you John Smith?" and the answer may be " I am he". Therefore, that may be the basis of the question and that way it makes sense entirely. Yes,as a native English speaker, I agree that "I am she/he " is very formal nowadays but grammatically it is correct. I would feel it a bit strange to use myself and normally I would just say"This is John Smith "or "Speaking". I am just trying to refer to the doubts some had about what the original question meant.

2
  • 2
    I think John Smith would answer "That's me" or, if on the phone, "Speaking". Although books may tell you that "I am he" is correct it sounds very unnatural in 2023.
    – mdewey
    Sep 2, 2023 at 12:53
  • 2
    On the phone I say: This is she. And I am he is very formal in English.
    – Lambie
    Sep 2, 2023 at 17:34

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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