When a sentence contains two verbs with different agents must they be separated by a conjunction (e.g. que)? Or, can the second verb be in the infinitive?

For example, in the following sentence the agent of the first verb is you and the agent of the second verb is me:

What do you advise me to do?

I've seen two translations for this sentence:

  1. ¿Qué me aconsejas hacer?
  2. ¿Qué me aconsejas que haga?

In the first translation, hacer is in the infinitive; in the second, they are separated by a conjunction (que). I was taught the second form. I would misunderstand the first because it seems to me that the indirect object (me) always applies to the infinitive if there are two verbs. I'd think the first meant: What do you advise to do to me?. But, in this sentence the indirect object (me) should apply to the conjugated verb (aconsejar).

  • Are both translations grammatically correct?
  • Which sounds more natural to a native speaker?
  • If the first is correct then
    • how can I know to which verb the indirect object is applied?
    • when can the second verb be in the infinitive when there's multiple agents (general rule)?

I'm more interested in understanding the general rule than this example.

  • I would interpret the first to be What do you advise be done? – Flimzy Apr 21 '14 at 14:45
  • It's really the IO (me) that trips me up here. I'd understand just perfectly Que aconsejas hacer to mean What do you advise to be done. But, I would think Que me aconsejas hacer = Que aconsejas hacerme just like Te quiero ver = Quiero verte. – psowden Apr 22 '14 at 3:20

Reviving this old question, I'll focus on the first and main question: When a sentence contains two verbs with different agents must they be separated by a conjunction (e.g. que)? Or, can the second verb be in the infinitive? The answer is: it depends on the verb.

There are a number of verbs that can be followed by an infinitive, whereby the infinitive functions as a subordinate with an implicit subject that is transferred from the indirect (or dative) object of the main verb. Among these there are the "verbs of influence"

  • aconsejar ("to advise")
  • mandar ("to command")
  • prohibir ("to forbid")
  • sugerir ("to suggest")

In each case, the structure formed by the indirect object plus the main verb plus the infinitive is equivalent to that formed by the same i. o. plus the main verb plus a full subordinate set off by que in which the subject is the former indirect object and the verb is conjugated in the subjunctive mood (with the tense corresponding to that of the main verb):

  • te aconsejo hacer esto = te aconsejo que hagas esto
  • le mandé regresar = le mandé que regresara
  • nos sugieren esperar = nos sugieren que esperemos

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There are other types of verbs that work this way, but I'd have no idea how to generalize, and I don't think it would be useful.

If there's no indirect object then the target of the "influence" of the verb (command, suggestion, prohibition, etc.) can sometimes be understood as generic or impersonal, but is often implied. For example, if you say

La mujer fue al médico. El médico sugirió ejercicio y dieta.

then it's obvious that the doctor's suggestion of exercise and diet was aimed at the woman, even though there's no indirect object (le) in the second sentence to indicate that.

Both structures (with infinitive and with que + subjunctive) are natural, but which one specifically sounds better is a matter of context. Personally I find both OP's and my own pairs of examples equally OK.


Both translations are perfectly correct.

Honestly, both sound very natural to me (I'm from Uruguay).

Another translation is:

  1. ¿Qué aconsejas que yo haga?

I would also add:

  1. ¿Qué aconsejas hacer?
  2. ¿Qué aconsejas que haga?

It's natural to and applies to "me".

Talking about "the rule", when it says "me + verbo conjugado", "me" is the indirect object of the "verbo conjugado". The direct object is obtained from conjugation and context.

On the other hand, "What do you advise to do to me?" translates to "¿Qué me aconsejás hacerme?".

I think the second verb can always be in infinitive. I can think no cases in which it cannot be.

  • Did you mean to say that the IO applies to the "verbo conjugado" when there are two verbs? If so, can you give examples of this? I thought it always applied to the verb in the infinitive, for example: te quiero ver = quiero verte. – psowden Apr 22 '14 at 3:15
  • You're right. In that case is as you say. Sincerely I don't know the answer, it simply "sounds" to me, I'm a native speaker, sorry. Maybe when it's a question is the reverse manner. – bryant1410 Apr 22 '14 at 3:48
  • Now I'm thinking that it depends on the first verb. "me aconsejas hacer" -> IO applies to "aconsejas" (!= "aconsejas hacerme"). "me pedis hacer" -> the same (!= "pedis hacerme"). "me queres ver" = "queres verme" -> IO applies to ver – bryant1410 Apr 22 '14 at 3:53

I would even say ¿Qué me aconsejas?. Hacer is already understood as part of the sentence even though it doesn't appear!, btw, both sentences are correct

  • No, "hacer" is not implied. You can take advice on many things. e.g. ¿Qué me aconsejas llevar?, ¿Qué me aconsejas comer?, ¿Qué me aconsejas decirle? – Krauss Sep 29 '18 at 14:31

I am from Mexico and for me the first translation is more natural. I think in your sentence the main verb is advise, the second verb is used as a complement of your sentence that is why this is used as infinitive (using it as a noun) but the use of a conjunction is also correct and for me is to make a clarification of what you want to say

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