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The phrase "ni te cuento" means, "don't talk to me about that" or "I can't begin to tell you" in an exclamatory sense.

I wonder can you use it with other pronouns: like, "os", "les", "se"? for example : ni os cuento!

Also, I am sorry but, is it "se" or "le" for him/her. "Se" or "Les" for them?

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    Selo cuento: I tell it to him or her. The se is because you can't have lelo. But in English, would you use him or her here? I can't begin to tell him? Kind of weird. But yes, Ni le cuento [usted]. Grammatically, you can say Ni le cuento a él or a ella, but again, it would be weird. I can't begin to tell you [plural]. Ni os cuento. Mostly, this expression in English and its translation is for you, singular or plural.
    – Lambie
    Nov 17, 2023 at 16:20

2 Answers 2

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The idiomatic I can't begin to tell you can be: Ni te cuento.

This would mostly be used with you, singular or plural.

Ni te cuento. [familiar]
Ni le cuento. [formal, usted]
Ni os cuento. [you plural, used in Spain, not formal like ustedes].
Ni les cuento. [you plural, used in LA, a ustedes and formal plural of usted in Spain]

But, you might also run across: We can't begin to tell you.

Just make the verb contamos rather than cuento.

Now, I can't begin to tell him, which is a bit odd has to be: Ni le cuento a él or a ella, which in Spanish sounds odd too.

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  • Yes,thank you all! It makes perfect sense . Yes, although it is not literally " NI TE CUENTO" the English equivalents are "I can't begin to tell you" and "don't talk to me"," if you only knew". I see the third person ues in any language is indeed odd. I think it is good to know the uses as it is everyday language and can be used formally and informally. The links are great.
    – Bluelion7
    Nov 17, 2023 at 17:01
  • @Bluelion7 It really is not "Don't talk to me". :) If you only knew, yes. :)
    – Lambie
    Nov 17, 2023 at 17:08
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    @Bluelion What links? Notice that Lambie is not a Spanish native speaker. Sometimes he's right but not always. After checking the lyrics of the song "I can't begin to tell you", I think that the equivalents in Spanish for that are "Si supieras" (If you only knew) or "Si pudiera expresar". In most cases you need to have a comparison of two elements to use "Ni te cuento" as you can see in the examples I quoted.
    – RubioRic
    Nov 17, 2023 at 17:39
  • @RubioRic First, I am a woman. Second, this is translation into English of Ni te cuento so I think I am probably more qualified than you for that. Not to mention being a translator and interpreter. Ni te cuento does not require two things. It requires something that is bad news (slang). Lo pasamos fatal anoche. Ni te cuento. That is 100% colloquial Spanish and there are not "two elements". Song lyrics are not always a good source for understanding meaning...
    – Lambie
    Nov 17, 2023 at 18:02
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    @Lambie I'm never sure of your genre. Sorry about that. Same about your job (the not being sure part) I think that "ni te imaginas" suits better that context. 110% colloquial Spanish certified. Do you have any support on that bad news slang thingy from a respectable source? Being an interpreter or whatever does not mean that you can speak like a native neither that you offer good explanations.
    – RubioRic
    Nov 17, 2023 at 18:32
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Yes, it can be used with "te"/"le", "os"/"les" depending on the number of persons who you're talking with and if in that country the second person is "tú"/"vos"/"usted" (singular) or "vosotros"/"ustedes" (plural)

tú - te
vos - le
usted - le
vosotros - os
ustedes - les

"Se" is not a personal pronoun. It is not used in this context. "Se" is not used for him and "le" for her in any case.

For better understanding the use of that expression and its equivalents in English, I've found these explanation and examples:

ni te cuento: expresión que normalmente se añade al final de una segunda oración para decir que el segundo elemento de una comparación es más fuerte todavía con respecto al primero; es decir, que tiene un grado mayor de la cualidad mencionada previamente, parecido al condicional enfático.

[ES] - Mi hermano es cabezón, y mi padre ni te cuento
[EN] — My brother is stubborn, and he's nothing compared to my dad

[ES] - La cocina está sucia y el cuarto de baño ni te cuento
[EN] — The kitchen's dirty, and the bathroom... I'm not even going to go there

[ES] -Si eres mujer, trabajar en el cine se te hace complicado, y si tienes más de cuarenta años ya ni te cuento
[EN] — As a woman, working in the film industry is hard enough, let alone if you are over forty

If you can rephrase those same sentences in English using "I can't begin to tell you" then you may be right. But in most cases you need two elements for using "ni te cuento", as stated in the quoted part: Something that is big/beautiful/good/bad/whatever and something that is even bigger/more beautiful/better/worse than the first one.

Note: I removed my first paragraph due to Lambie's comments. She's right about my poor translations of OP's sentences in English.

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  • "Ni te cuento" does actually mean: I can't begin to tell you. Maybe you don't know the idiom in English. It can also be: If you only knew.
    – Lambie
    Nov 17, 2023 at 16:13
  • @Lambie "Si supieras" is not the same as "Ni te cuento". According to the explanation and what I know "ni te cuento" is used to compare two elements. The song "I can't begin to tell you" for example, does not compare two things but uses that part as an intesifier for only one thing.
    – RubioRic
    Nov 17, 2023 at 17:23
  • In English, Ni te cuento can mean if you only knew. You are backtranslating. Si supieras is ALSO if you only knew. Lo hemos pasado fatal en Francia. Ni te cuento (If you only knew OR I can't begin to tell you). No hablarías con ese hombre. Si supieras (If you only knew). An expression can be translated often in more than one way without backtranslating. You are taking the English, if you only knew and translating INTO Spanish. I am taking the Spanish only and saying how it can be translated into English. Two different ways.
    – Lambie
    Nov 17, 2023 at 17:59
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    I have to say that I can think of many things I might have said to translate ni te cuento none of which is one of @Bluelion7's examples which seem rather contrived to me but this sort of colloquial phrase can be very fluid and open to dialect differences too.
    – mdewey
    Nov 18, 2023 at 14:23
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    @Lambie we need to insert typos to prove we are human and not an LLM.
    – mdewey
    Nov 19, 2023 at 13:41

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