In this comment, the grammatical term dativo ético is mentioned:

With comer, dativo ético is often used, quite rare to use comer without it (at least in Spain). For example, instead of "Él comió una naranja" "Se comió una naranja". Don't ask why, it is just that way.

What is this and when is it used?


2 Answers 2


The English term is ethic dative. It's a dative form which often appears in Latin but is very rare in English.

The ethic dative is applied to pronouns and expresses a certain interest in a matter. You probably know the English expression "Cry me a river" which is a pretty good example. You use this saying to tell you don't care, so here it's rather disinterest than interest. The pronoun "me" is not solely a "true" dative (whom) but also put emphasis on the (dis)interest.

  • ¿Hay ejemplos en español que puedes darme también?
    – wbyoung
    Commented Nov 22, 2013 at 23:02
  • @wbyoung I'm afraid I cannot offer an appropriate example yet (I could make one up (by translating common example of my mother-tongue to Spanish) but I cannot guarantee it being good). I will add examples when I come across some good examples.
    – Em1
    Commented Nov 23, 2013 at 6:56
  • It's already been a year, but, like in English, most instances of the ethic dative are very colloquial and will probably be regional. Something I'd say: "No te me las llevés de tan fuerte" (Don't act so strong and me being the dative object). Another example I found online (that doesn't sound natural to me): "No me seas tan tonto".
    – clinch
    Commented Oct 18, 2014 at 23:00
  • @clinch I agree. In my native language this is very informal, too, and afaik also only used in a few dialects.
    – Em1
    Commented Oct 18, 2014 at 23:03
  • minor correction: the correct adjective in English is "ethical", not "ethic". Commented Dec 16, 2019 at 14:58


Caso de la declinación latina y de otras lenguas que en español equivale al objeto indirecto del verbo.

En Español existen tres tipos de Dativos

~ ético.

Pronombre no necesario para el sentido de la frase, que designa a la persona afectada por la acción o interesada por ella. «Los dativos éticos son incompatibles con los verbos transitivos cuyo objeto directo contenga un sustantivo que no lleve artículo ni ningún otro elemento modificador, lo que con frecuencia se atribuye a factores aspectuales, más concretamente al efecto del dativo ético sobre el modo de acción verbal. Observe que podemos decir Juan se sabe la lección, pero no diríamos *Juan se sabe geografía. Decimos, análogamente, me bebí la leche, pero no decimos *me bebí leche.»

No me come la verdura (dicho por la madre acerca del hijo)

Se le desmayó allí delante,

¡Pero ... ¿qué me ha hecho?! (cuando alguien hace algo que no debe)

~ posesivo.

En ciertas lenguas, dativo que designa al poseedor en las oraciones nominales.

Le rompieron un brazo (le = su)

Le robaron la cartera (le = su)

~ simpatético.

En ciertas lenguas, dativo que indica relación personal en oraciones nominales y que presenta un valor próximo al dativo posesivo.

lo llores porque se me parte el corazón (por se parte mi corazón)

le salí al encuentro (al encuentro de él);

se notaba las manos temblonas (notaba sus manos)

Ejemplos de los tres tipos de Dativos

  • How does it differ from standard dative? In #1, who does each se refer to? The subject? If so, why use it? Just for the emotional emphasis? In #2, who is studying? Someone the speaker's talking to (a student perhaps)? Again, how does that differ from regular dative?
    – wbyoung
    Commented Nov 22, 2013 at 23:21
  • This is straight from another source.
    – wbyoung
    Commented Nov 22, 2013 at 23:24
  • @wbyoung answer update, at the end you can see a link with example of the three types of dative in Spanish Commented Mar 23, 2014 at 15:56

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