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Is it proper to use a subject pronoun with an infinitive as used below?

El perro hizo que su padre se bajara del sillón para poder sentarse él.

I saw this exact sentence on a social media post, but I've never learned that you are able to use a subject pronoun with an infinitive. I'm also having trouble finding sources that comment on this.

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  • I will leave it to the native speakers to confirm but I think that is what I was taught as a disjunctive pronoun used to emphasise the subject.
    – mdewey
    Oct 26, 2023 at 13:08
  • I think that the sentence is a bit verbose, I guess that there is no need for that for studying this case. What about just: "Lo quitó del sillón para poder sentarse él"? Just to focus in the relevant part: "poder sentarse él", right? The dog and the father got nothing to do with the question.
    – RubioRic
    Oct 26, 2023 at 13:22
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    Sure, that's fair. I'm just posting the sentence as it was originally written for full context, just in case it made a difference. Oct 26, 2023 at 14:14

1 Answer 1

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In the sentence:

  • El perro hizo que su padre se bajara del sillón para poder sentarse él.

"él" is correctly used for emphasis, meaning: "for him to be able to get a seat himself"

In the so-called "subordinadas adverbiales de infinitivo" (infinitival adverbial clauses), an express subject (noun or pronoun) will need to be used when it is different from the subject in the main clause. See the examples below taken from Hispanoteca:

Compré entradas para ir tú y yo a la ópera a ver a Plácido Domingo.

La puerta de madera crujió al abrirla el detective.

Al llegar la policía al local, los terroristas salieron por la puerta trasera.

De haber tenido yo dinero, ella me hubiera querido. (Here "yo" could be omitted as explained at the end.)

No vino por no haberle avisado nosotros a tiempo.

De haberme avisado vosotros antes, os hubiera reservado entradas.

De haberme avisado a tiempo, yo hubiera venido con mucho gusto.

Antes de llegar yo a la oficina, ya me había llamado ella por teléfono. (Here "yo" could be omitted as explained at the end.)

Nada más salir vosotros de casa, sonó el teléfono un buen rato.

Ella se separó de él después de decirle él que se había casado obligado.

Al entrar ellos a la discoteca salíamos nosotros.

Sometimes, the subject of the infinitival clause is the direct object of the main clause, in which case it may be omitted if the referent is clear:

Lo detuvo la policía por no querer pagar la cuenta del restaurante. ("por no querer pagar él la cuenta del restaurante" is redundant and awkward)

Interestingly, unlike in English, where the subject always precedes the verb, be it a finite or a non-finite, in Spanish the subject will tend to always appear AFTER the infinitive.

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  • Interesting! I learned something new today, as I had never heard of this before. Some of these could just be phrased as clauses, like "Tan pronto como salisteis de casa, sonó el teléfono un buen rato." Looks like the sub. pronoun always follows the infinitive. In my provided example, it appears that the subject in the main clause is the same as the subject of "...para poder sentarse." Is the el pronoun needed? Oct 26, 2023 at 14:49
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    It is not needed there because there is co-reference (same referent of main clause and subordinate clause subjects), but just added for emphasis.
    – Gustavson
    Oct 26, 2023 at 14:51
  • Thank you so much! I really appreciate a thorough, well-explained answer such as yours. One of these seems rather odd to me. I would have said "Si huberia tendio mas dinero, ella me habria querido." "De haber tenido yo dinero, ella me hubiera querido" comes across as rare and literary to me... Oct 26, 2023 at 14:55
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    "Si hubiera tenido más dinero, ella me habría querido" may be ambiguous: If I had had more money / If she had had more money... You may want to add the following to avoid any possible ambiguity: Si yo hubiera tenido más dinero. With that infinitive, that "yo" may be unnecessary because its referent is the same as that of the direct object of the main clause. I will add it in the reply.
    – Gustavson
    Oct 26, 2023 at 15:04
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    Agreed, I should've stuck a "yo" there to be "Si yo hubiera...", but that still seems like the much more common way to say it versus "De haber tenido yo dinero, ella me hubiera querido," at least from what I've heard/read. That way seems literary. Oct 26, 2023 at 15:06

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