Puzzling over "Ni qué decir tiene ..."

DavidC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Puzzling over "Ni qué decir tiene ..."

I am struggling to work out the semantic structure and 'rationale' of this piece: "Ni qué decir tiene que no necesitas, ni flores en el pelo, ni vestido de flamenca,..." - particularly its first four words?

Asked 1 year ago
ClaraC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer

Hi again David,

Yes, we've certainly crossed paths before now :)

I've seen this expression a few times, in my reading of Spanish novels and some films I've watched. From what I've seen, yes, it carries the accent but I've also seen it without. Perhaps Inma could provide some clarity here?

I believe that it's 'tiene' rather than 'tienes' as the expression is more or less saying, 'it goes without saying', 'needless to say' or in this particular instance, 'obviously you (one) doesn't need...' So I'm inclined to say that we would use the the third person 'tiene' rather than 'tienes'.

In my first reply to you however David, the expression should have read, 'ni que (or qué) decir tiene'

I'm hoping that Inma sees your question and my thoughts on this, lest I mislead anyone. 

Saludos

Clara :)

InmaKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hola David y Clara,

 

First of all, the accent is a typo, it should say "ni que decir tiene". We'll fix that straight away. And it's always tiene, not tienes

This is a very useful and very used idiom in Spanish meaning what Clara said: it goes without saying... As an idiomatic expression we can't analize it word by word. If I myself try to find a rationale about this expression I would say that the verb in singular makes sense because what we have after is a clause introduced by "que" and the whole clause could be a noun/pronoun, so we could substitute the clause with "eso" for example:

Ni que decir tiene que no necesitas flores. = Ni que decir tiene eso.

Then, we could also substitute "ni" with "nada" and say:

Nada que decir tiene eso.

Tiene here would be agreeing with the subject: eso (singular)

And if you read the sentence, this is pretty much saying: needless to say that (=there is no need to say that).

Not sure I'm making much sense, but this is what comes to my head when trying to analize this idiom. 

By the way, we have a list for C1 with expressions that use "ni" and this is one of them. 

Have a look here.

Saludos

Inma

 

ClaraC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Hi David,

It took me a while to figure this out too. 

'Ni que decir' means- 'needless to say...'

In the context of this passage, in my opinion it reads, 'Obviously you don't need...'

Hope this helps :)

DavidC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Thank you Clara [this must be at least the fourth time that our "paths have crossed" in this forum?]... But you wrote "que" with no accent, whereas in the text it does carry one - is that significant? - or just a typo? ... And why is it "tiene" and not "tienes"? Anyway, your translation does make good sense - I do appreciate your help.

DavidC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Really helpful comments and explanations from two lovely talented ladies !

ClaraC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Thank you very much Inma for your explanation; it does make sense.  I do enjoy trying to figure out the meaning of these idiomatic expressions. 

Saludos :)

AlanC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

I rationalise the idiom to myself this way. It's saying "No tiene que decir" (=It/one doesn't have to say"), but with "ni" instead of "no" for emphasis, and an 'inverted' word order.  This helps me, at any rate!

Puzzling over "Ni qué decir tiene ..."

I am struggling to work out the semantic structure and 'rationale' of this piece: "Ni qué decir tiene que no necesitas, ni flores en el pelo, ni vestido de flamenca,..." - particularly its first four words?

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