Because I’m a nerd like that, I spend a lot of time reflecting upon linguistics topics, especially those having to do with Spanish and English—their similarities, their differences, and why these things are so. I also revel in explaining such differences to people, as if they actually care. (My mom says she does, but I think she secretly goes into her characteristic I’m-listening-but-not-reallymom mode. And that’s fine. Because I have you all. [I know; try not to jump for joy. Or—alternately—do jump for joy. Just be sure the ceiling’s high enough and stuff, you know. I don’t want any blog-related injuries.])
When I first started on what I like to sarcastically call my Spanish Language Journey (yes, I say the italics out loud), I was more concerned about memorizing all the maddening irregular verbs than the whys of it all. Nowadays, having progressed past where I was at fifteen (you may congratulate me now), I spend more time on carrying out all these things I have learned—in conversation with my permanent intercambio, Mario.
Painfully (un)adorable. I know; please humor me.
In traditional intercambios, you’re supposed to spend a certain period of time speaking each language. In our intercambios, this does not happen. It’s more of a jumbled-up conversation, full of code-switching. So naturally, I mess up a lot. Mario does too, just not a lot. Sometimes I get why I messed up, like when I say “para que practique” when I should say “para practicar.” (I’m referring to myself here, if you care and know Spanish.) Duh, I get it. I just got all the exasperating subjunctive tense mixed up in my head. NO NEED TO CORRECT ME! NO NEED!
But sometimes I mess up—at least according to Mario (what does he know?)—and I get it, but … no really, I don’t get it, so I try to memorize these rules and shut up about it already because there’s no reason not to do so.
Except, being me, there is a reason to do so. My brain won’t stop going over the same topics again and again until I give it respite by either 1) falling asleep, or 2) drinking red wine on my couch.
So, without further ado (oh, and there was lots of ado here), here’s a list of things that regularly give me pause—reflexive verb version. Students earning an online degree in Spanish may find this helpful for their own studies. Before I begin, I want to say I fully understand that some reflexive versions add emphasis (comerse vs. comer, pensárselo vs. pensarlo)
- Se muere vs. muere. What, is se muere like the person died harder? Like, he died, but he did it up good?!
- Lo sé vs. me lo sé. Um, don’t get me wrong, I do use lo sé most of the time, but there are some instances in which it’s okay—even appropriate—to use the latter. I always do it wrong, and it causes me no end of frustration. I’ll let it slip out, hoping desperately that I’ve finally (just this once!) used it correctly, but nope. Mario is always so (delightfully!) prompt at correcting me, and after he does so, I just want to collapse on the floor and throw a charming little temper tantrum. I just know that would make it all better, and I would suddenly, magically know how to do it right.
- Me río vs. río. I don’t think there’s a wrong way to use this, but, ya know, I’m probably mistaken. Correct me please, Spanish speakers (and know-it-all English speakers too)!