Use of definite article vs possessive adjective (e.g. el vs mi)

AAC1Kwiziq community member

Use of definite article vs possessive adjective (e.g. el vs mi)

Hello!  Thank you for this wonderfully clear explanation of the accidental se.  I noticed that in several examples that are translated with a possessive adjective in English, a definite article is used in Spanish.  For example, "Se me rompió EL reloj ayer" is translated as "MY watch broke (accidentally) yesterday.  I have several questions about this.  First, would it be presumed in this sentence that it is MY watch?  Second, would it ever be correct to say "Se me rompió MI reloj ayer"?  What if I wanted to say that I broke my favorite watch (e.g., modifying reloj): Would it still be "Se me rompió el reloj favorito"?  Finally, if I wanted to specify that it was someone else's watch:  "Se me rompió el reloj de mi mejor amiga"?  Thank you in advance for clarifying.  This is a challenging topic for me!

Asked 1 year ago
InmaKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hola AA 

Very interesting questions!

1. yes, with this usage of se you are always going to refer to something that gets broken that belongs to that same person, so:

Se me rompió el reloj. (me indicates the possession, so it is my watch that got broken)

A Cristina se le rompió el reloj. (le indicates that it is Cristina's watch)

Se nos rompió el reloj. (nos indicates that "we" had a watch and it got broken)

In English, as you said, the explicit possessive indicated that.

2. Saying "se me rompió MI reloj" is grammatically correct. It would sound a bit redundant as we already know it was "my" watch with that initial "me", but if you want to emphasise that it was "your" watch then we may make use of that redundancy for emphasis. 

3. If you´re more specific about the watch you then use the possessive because in this case you are being more precise. When you use here "mi" you are conveying that you have more than one watch. It's only with "generic" things when we use the definite article.

4. The sentence: "Se me rompió el reloj de mi mejor amiga" would be incorrect because the watch is not your possession, so if you want to say that your best friend's watch got broken you need: A mi amiga se le rompió el reloj.  However, if that case is that she has maybe lent you her watch to keep for a while, for example, and it got broken while in your possession, that (if that is the interpretation) you would say:  se me rompió el reloj de mi amiga. Here it is "se me rompió..." because the accident happened to you (not her).

I hope this clarifies your questions.

Saludos

Use of definite article vs possessive adjective (e.g. el vs mi)

Hello!  Thank you for this wonderfully clear explanation of the accidental se.  I noticed that in several examples that are translated with a possessive adjective in English, a definite article is used in Spanish.  For example, "Se me rompió EL reloj ayer" is translated as "MY watch broke (accidentally) yesterday.  I have several questions about this.  First, would it be presumed in this sentence that it is MY watch?  Second, would it ever be correct to say "Se me rompió MI reloj ayer"?  What if I wanted to say that I broke my favorite watch (e.g., modifying reloj): Would it still be "Se me rompió el reloj favorito"?  Finally, if I wanted to specify that it was someone else's watch:  "Se me rompió el reloj de mi mejor amiga"?  Thank you in advance for clarifying.  This is a challenging topic for me!

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