Home  Grammar index  Spanish dictionary  Basic Spanish phrases  Translate  

"Reverse" verb constructions in Spanish

Consider sentences such as the following in English:

Experiencer is subjectExperiencer is object
I forgot (it)it slipped my mind
I remembered (it)it occurred to me
Jane loves tennistennis enthuses Jane
I can't stand himhe annoys me
I don't like the situationthe situation doesn't please me
nobody inherited anything from himhe bequeathed nothing to anyone

Feedback Suggest a change / Cambios sugeridos

Each row in the table above contains a pair of sentences which express more or less the same idea. In the first sentence of each pair, the experiencer or recipient of the notion expressed by the verb is the subject of the verb. In the second of each pair, that experiencer becomes the object of the verb. In Spanish, a comparable situation often occurs: a construction can be chosen with the experiencer as either the subject or the object of the verb (depending on the verb).

In some of these pairs, you'll probably agree that one of the constructions is more common. For example, the verb inherit is a reasonably common verb, whereas bequeath has pretty much fallen out of everyday usage. A similar thing can occur in Spanish.

But it turns out that there are a number of verbs where the 'common' way of translating that verb into Spanish uses the construction that is "the other way round" to English.

Understanding and forming the reverse construction in Spanish

To understand how this construction works, see this site's page on how to say I like in Spanish, along with the interactive tutorial on the verb gustar.

Other examples of reverse constructions in Spanish

Here are some other common examples of this reverse construction:

English/Spanish verb pairEnglishSpanish
antojarse / fancywhat do you fancy?¿qué se te antoja?
caer bien / likeI like DavidDavid me cae bien
caer mal / don't likeI don't like DavidDavid me cae mal
dar / to get, have (an illness, temper)I got a headacheme dio un dolor de cabeza
he had a tantrumle dio una rabieta
dar envidia / be jealousI'm jealous of himme da envidia
encantar / loveI love the cinemame encanta el cine
gustar / likeI like tennisme gusta el tenis
hacer falta, faltar /
need, not have enough
it needs some saltle hace falta sal
we need more moneynos falta dinero
importar / care, mindI don't mind that muchno me importa tanto
hartar1 / be sick, fed up with/ofI'm fed up of the situationme harta la situación
tocar2 / getI got plenty of meatme tocó mucha carne

1 The verb hartar, like some other verbs in Spanish, is also used pronominally (hartarse de algo) with a similar meaning.
2. This use of tocar is equivalent to English get in the sense of "be given as one's portion", "receive by chance". The verb get has a variety of other translations depending on its more specific meaning.

comments powered by Disqus

 Español-Inglés home  Introduction to Spanish verbs  Spanish-English dictionary

Copyright © Javamex UK 2012. All rights reserved.