The translator says the sentence is this in English:

Le lee un diario a ella = He reads her a book.

I thought it was "You read her a book" because it's unclear from the wording the gender of person who is reading the book and rather the person is being referred to by the word "Usted" implicitly.

Is this right or has the translator made a mistake?

  • 1
    Automatic translators make often mistakes due to the unbiased statistics they use to translate: they just compare where does le lee un diario a ella's translation appear more often, and they spit you that option as the answer. But good catch (+1).
    – c.p.
    Mar 13, 2014 at 17:29

5 Answers 5


The sentence has more than one translation because the gender is not clear. The translation could be:

He reads her a journal
She reads her a journal 
You read her a journal 

If the gender is not clear it does not refer implicitly "usted".

And the translation of "diario" is journal not book. Book is a 'libro'.

So except of the word 'diario', the tanslator was right, because he gave one possible translation of the sentence.

  • I agree except that "You read her a journal" is not a possible translation. "You read her a journal" = "Le lees un diario a ella" (1 person is reading to her) or "Le leéis un diario a ella" (multiple people are reading to her)
    – jirkamat
    Nov 13, 2021 at 11:08

"Le lee un diario a ella" is a phrase with an implicit subject. I think this is a figure that doesn't exist in english, where every phrase has to have it's subject.

In spanish, however, it's possible to avoid writting the subject in phrases where the subject is obvious and well-known.

In this case the subject should be "Él" or "Ella", "Él le lee un diario a ella/Ella le lee un diario" (note that if we use "Ella" as subject we cannot use it as a complement).

We don't need to use an explicit subject when both the speaker and the listener know who is the subject.

Something similar happens with the use of pronouns.

If we were telling this phrase to someone out of context we should use something similar to: "Pedro le lee un diario a María"

When the listener is in the context, he knows that Pedro is reading and María is listening, so the speaker doesn't need to use their names, he can use pronouns for both, and even totally avoid them: "Le lee un libro" will be a perfectly understandable phrase for someone aware of the context where it's said.


From the sentence you can't know who is reading, a male or a female. 'You read her a book' will translate as 'Le lees un diario a ella' Le lee un diario a ella implies a third person

  • But with "Usted" wouldn't it be "Le lee un diario a ella"?
    – David G
    Mar 12, 2014 at 22:46
  • Actually you are correct Usted le lee un diario a ella and Tu le lees un diario a ella are exactly the same sentence Usted, at least in Mexico, implies more respect, or lack of familiarity with the person.
    – AlfonsoPC
    Mar 12, 2014 at 22:56
  • So is the translator wrong? Is it supposed to be "You read her a book"?
    – David G
    Mar 12, 2014 at 23:45

The translation depends of the context. It coulb be: -Usted le lee un diario a ella. -Él le lee un diario a ella. The meaning is the same.


Le lee un diario a ella = He reads her a book.

One cannot tell if "Le" is female or male due to the fact that is an indirect object. therefore it could be Le (ella o el).

You could also say Ella le lee un diario a ella or El le lee un diario a ella.

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