1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Spanish
  4. >
  5. "They have put their pants on…

"They have put their pants on."

Translation:Ellos se han puesto sus pantalones.

February 9, 2013



Much to the relief of everyone.

  • 620

Does anyone know why you wouldn't say "Ellos se han puesto LOS pantalones." I always thought when it was a reflexive verb you didn't need to use the possessive pronoun because with the reflexive verb you know it's to themselves. For example you would say "lava las manos", not tus or sus manos, right??


It is my understanding that the possessive pronoun is not used with body parts and articles of clothing. I used "los" pantalones, and it was accepted


Hay una pequeña diferencia cuando usamos "sus" los pantalones son de ellos, en cambio cuando usamos "los" pueden ser de otras personas (prestados)


Yo pensaba que era el opuesto de lo que dices tú. Que si las pantalones pertenecen a los que se los pone, no hace falta decir "sus." Pero, si la persona que se pone los pantalones no es el dueño de dichos pantalones, entonces se usa el artículo posesivo. O sea, si Ellos se ponen los pantalones de Eduardo, por ejemplo, entonces hay que especificarlo usando el artículo "sus" y así da a entender que los pantalones no son los de la persona que los viste.


Gracias por su explicación útil, pero quiso decir que era Español o que era Inglés que era todo lo contrario?

The following is a Google translation of what I said in a comment that appears below this one: ¿Estás diciendo que <<los>> en su frase es la versión española del pronombre posesivo inglésa <<su>>? " He intentado reconstruir el razonamiento y la siguiente es lo que ocurrió.

La traducción literal en cuanto a la reflexividad es <<Han puesto en los propios pantalones>> (They have PUT ON themselves the pants) que también podrían ser <<Ellos han puesto los pantalones en sí mismos>> (They have PUT the pants ON themselves). Así cuando de Han puesto los pantalones en sí mismos (They have PUT the pants ON themselves) se traduce del Español al Inglés, la banda de goma se estira de manera que <<Ellos han puesto los pantalones en sí mismos,>> simplemente deja caer la reflexiva (They put their pants on) y traduce el determinante <<el>> como el determinante <<su>> (la palabra Inglés <<their>>) para indicar posesión (es decir, cuyos pantalones que son).

Para mí , es una lucha para entender cómo las oraciones español 1 ) utiliza un verbo + pronombre para indicar la voz pasiva y al tiempo mismo 2) también utilizar otro pronombre reflexivo por alguna otra razón. ¿Por favor, pueden las personas que habla hispana dígame si esto es imposible en española?


Well, what you're saying definitely makes sense. Even in English "They have put THE pants on" would have strong implications that the pants are theirs.


"They have put the pants on" seems very peculiar to me. As a native English speaker, this sounds as if they are wearing the same pair (possible if they are Siamese twins, but not very commonplace!).


It sounds natural is the pants were already the focus of the discussion


as smagringo has said, for example at the barbers you would also say "...corteme el pelo" not 'mi pelo'


Are you saying that "los" in your sentence is the Spanish version of the English possessive pronoun "their?" I've tried to reconstruct your reasoning and the following is what I came up with.

The literal translation in terms of reflexivity is "They have put on the pants themselves," which could also be "They have put the pants on themselves." So, when Ellos se han puesto los pantalones (They have put the pants on themselves) is translated from Spanish to English, the rubber band is stretched so that "They have put the pants on themselves" simply drops the reflexive (They have put the pants on) and translates the determiner "the" as the determiner "their" to indicate possessiveness (that is, whose pants they are).

I myself struggle to understand how to deal with Spanish sentences that use both a reflexive pronoun and a verb + pronoun to indicate passive voice. Can any native Spanish speakers tell me if that is an impossible sentence to write in Spanish?

  • 620

Hi, Linda. Not a native speaker, so I can't answer your last question, but I've used Spanish a lot, and have had a lot of instruction. What I said above, "se han puesto los pantalones" is not literally translating their for los. It's just when it's obvious whose pants they are, you should use the article los, las, el, la for the thing. Even in English, if we said "They have put on their pants, or even the pants, you would assume they are their own pants. If you wanted to say they put on someone else's pants, you would have to use different words: They put on So-and-so's pants, or they put on the pants they borrowed from ... whoever - put in name. And again, with reflexive, with the word se in the sentence, we assume they put them on by themselves, as opposed to a parent or adult helping someone to put on their pants. Hope this response didn't cause more confusion - pronouns can be tricky, and everything is harder without any context or more information to go on!


A lingot for your help. Sometimes just knowing that you can't do something is enough. The trick is to remember the obvious. Thanks.

My other question was confusing, even to me! I'm trying to ask if more than one reflexive pronoun is ever used with the same verb, and if so, how is it done? What I'm asking is how to translate a sentence that is passive voice English and also uses the a reflexive pronoun for emphasis, such as "The policeman himself may be breaking the law." I know that English passive voice is indicated by a reflexive pronoun in Spanish, but how do you translate the emphasis of the word "himself" in the example I just gave?

  • 620

Hi again, Linda. I'm really replying to your comment below about the passive voice, but my computer wouldn't let me reply after that comment.

I believe we have some different ideas about the passive voice: I have always thought passive was not a "may be, or helping verb tense with a form of to be" as you described, but a whole different word ordering. For example: "All the papers were collected from the students by the teacher," would be passive voice, as opposed to wording it "The teacher collected all the papers from the students." Or, as in Laura's example below about "The law is being broken by the policeman himself" (passive) as opposed to "The policeman himself is breaking the law." (active) They mean the same thing, and usually one way or the other seems better depending on what you want to express (and is a separate thing from the reflexive verbs). By the way, my family has discovered that grammar-check on the computer seems to hate the passive voice, and always wants it reworded, but sometimes it just has to be that way!

What you were describing with the words "may be" is definitely used a lot, but I think in Spanish one would use the subjunctive mood. (unless I'm off about subjunctive, which is tricky...) Just some thoughts from someone who likes to think about the way words work!


Came back to further refine this post. Apologies for the length and pomposity. What you and LauraReinh1 describe is the traditional grade school definition of the passive voice, in which a sentence's object is placed in the subject position and the subject is converted into the object of a prepositional phrase located in the predicate.

The "mediopassive" and the "short passive" were not taught when I went to high school; I learned about them later on from a friend of mine who teaches college English. So, if you go by the usual definition, you and LauraReinh1 are both right that my sample sentence is incorrect. However, it's incorrect because I used the present participle instead of the past participle.

I was trying to make up a sentence that had not only a Spanish reflexive used as a translation of English passive tense but also a meaning that was the same as the English word "himself," which, if I am not mistaken, can also be translated to Spanish by using a pronoun. When I thought up my example, I forgot one of the rules of English, which is that you must change the present participle to the past participle when you go from active voice to passive voice in present progressive tense. Here is the corrected example: The active sentence "The policeman himself may be breaking the law" converts to the passive sentence "The law may be broken by the policeman himself." A less complicated example: "The policeman is breaking the law" (active voice present progressive) converts to "The law is being broken by the policeman" (passive voice present progressive). When the prepositional phrase is dropped, the sentence becomes a "short passive." The thing about main verbs in sentences that are "short passives" is that they can be either action verbs or stative verbs.

Because of the "short passive," I stand by my statement that any form of "to be" indicates passive voice when it is used as an auxiliary. Keep in mind that I used the word "auxiliary," because in progressive tenses the am/is/are/was/were + participle is considered one unit made up of two parts. In other words, the "one unit" is the active verb in progressive tenses, and only when some form of "be" is added is the verb string then considered to be a passive compound verb.

Thus, "may be broken" is a passive verb string for two reasons: 1) the auxiliary verb "be" is used, and 2) the tense of the participle shifts from present tense to past tense. Consequently, the passive voice sentence "The law may be broken by the policeman himself" may be shortened to "The law may be broken," and the shortened sentence uses a stative verb. See: http://grammar.about.com/od/rs/g/Short-Passive-term.htm

Some linguists use the term "mediopassive voice" to describe a sentence in which the subject receives the action and the object is optional. In such sentences, the verb is not an action verb but rather is a stative verb. Some verbs are both. For example: "My child is being beaten (optional: by the policeman)." If you argue that such a sentence is intransitive (possessing no action verb), you are right. (However, if the word "child" were made the object, and if the subject "the policeman" were added, it would again be transitive.) Nevertheless, the subject "child" is the recipient of the action in this example, and this is the rationale for calling this sentence MEDIOpassive. See: http://www-01.sil.org/linguistics/GlossaryOfLinguisticTerms/WhatIsMediopassiveVoice.htm

I finally wanted to add that, IMO, all of these grammars are only a guide and anyone who uses language at all knows that usage is constantly changing. My bent is to be inclusive rather than exclusive when it comes to parsing. ;^)


I agree with J9Z about active v. passive voice. While the passive construction calls for the use of the "to be" verb, I don't think that the simple presence of the "to be" verb is enough to make a sentence passive. The definition I've always used for passive voice is a sentence that places what would normally be the object of a sentence (in English, this could be either the direct or indirect object, while in Spanish passive voice this can only be the direct object) in the position of subject. Obviously this requires that the verb of the sentence be transitive or else this wouldn't work. The formula for a passive sentence in English would be the following: object acting as subject + "to be" verb conjugated accordingly + past participle of a transitive action verb + (optionally) by + actor (what would normally be the subject in the active construction). Sometimes we do this when we don't know who the actor is and only know what was acted upon, or sometimes we want to put the object as the subject to give it more importance in the sentence for some reason. An example of a direct object taking the place of the subject (and thereby creating a passive sentence) would be the following: "The novel was written in 1994 by Isabel Allende." The active version of this sentence would be "Isabel Allende wrote the novel in 1994." If we didn't know who wrote the novel (one of the reasons we may choose to use the passive voice) we may simply say, "The novel was written in 1994." All of these can directly translate into Spanish fairly neatly, using the verb "ser" conjugated for the subject and the past participle of the action verb "escribir". "La novela fue escrita en 1994 por Isabel Allende." (passive, but still naming the actor); "Isabel Allende escribió la novela en 1994." (active, with actor as subject and direct object--la novela--as direct object); "La novela fue escrita en 1994." (passive, with la novela as the subject and without naming the actor). What English allows for that Spanish does not is the use of the indirect object as subject in the passive construction (although, as J9Z pointed out, just because it's grammatically permissible doesn't make it stylistically preferable). For example, the sentence "My father was sent an invitation by the couple" works in English, but we can't say in Spanish "Mi padre fue mandado una invitación por la pareja" because "mi padre" would be the indirect object of the active sentence (the active versions would be "The couple sent my father an invitation" or "La pareja le mandó una invitación a mi padre"). The only way we could make this passive in Spanish would be "Una invitación le fue manada a mi padre por la pareja" since "una invitación" is the direct object of the active sentence (although I think this probably would sound a bit unnatural to the native ear). Anyway, sorry for the lengthy and ultimately off-topic reply. I just love grammar discussions, so I get off on these tangents sometimes! I hope I helped instead of making things murkier.


In your example, the word "himself" would most likely translate as "propio," like this: "El propio policía está quebrantando/violando la ley." Although in other contexts "propio" might mean "own" as in one's own something (like "it's her own book" would be "es su propio libro"). So, the context is going to be very important when it comes to translating the "himself/herself" reflexive pronoun from English to Spanish, just as context is important when it comes to translating any word, I suppose.

I hope that helps clear up your doubts about your sample sentence, but I'm not sure I understand what you mean by a sentence that is passive and uses the reflexive pronoun for emphasis, since the sentence you gave is not passive at all. You could make it passive by saying, "The law is being broken by the police himself," but the translation of the "himself" in the passive version would be the same as in the active one (the passive one just being the more weird way to say more or less the same thing in either language).


Lingot to you for the very helpful tip about "propio." Maybe I can remember it now!

The reason I called my sentence passive is because I was taught that a sentence is passive when any form of the verb "to be" is used as an auxiliary verb, as in my example sentence, in which the word "may" is the first helping verb and the word "be" is the second helping verb (... may be breaking ... ).

It's true that our two sentences are largely alike. However, tense, as always, pinpoints fine shades of meaning. "Is being broken" is present progressive tense (and "was being broken" is past progressive tense), and some people don't even consider progressive tenses to be passive tenses at all, despite the fact that the word "is" is clearly in the helping verb position. That is why I chose the modal verb "can" for my example. More to the point, the progressive tenses are used to indicate ongoing action. The present progressive tense indicates that the action is happening now, and the past progressive tense indicates the action happened at some point in the past. If I had wanted to set the action in the future, I would have written an example something like this: "The policeman himself will be breaking the law if he shoots before asking questions."

"May be broken," on the other hand, uses the helping verb "may" to indicate possibility. Because both positive and negative possibilities exist, "may be broken" refers either to an outcome that will occur or an outcome that will not occur. "May be ... " is a verb construction used all the time in English, even though we may not think about it much.


I think I'm picking up what you're throwing down about the reflexive pronoun being used in a passive construction (although I can't really come up with a translation for your sample sentence in English using this construction). You're wondering about what's referred to as the "passive se" in Spanish, right? Such as "se buscan candidatos" or "se me perdieron las llaves" or "Se me rompió el brazo el año pasado". So, for example, if you wanted to say "The police himself broke his arm" you could use both the reflexive pronoun "se" and the indirect object pronoun (the pronombre átono, sorry I don't know what it's called in English) "le" and the modifier "propio" together in the following way: "Se le rompió el brazo al propio policía¨where "el brazo" is both the grammatical subject and the direct object and "el policía" is the indirect object. Directly translated, this sentence could be thought of in a couple of different ways, at least one of which would be the passive voice in English (e.g. The/his arm got broken/was broken by the police officer himself). The other way it could be thought of is the arm is both the actor and the recipient (the arm broke itself) and the "le" and the "al propio policía" tells us to whom the arm that broke itself belongs and/or who was involved in getting it broken. Does this sort of address what your question was?

  • 620

Wow, ladies, I see we all love grammar discussions! Nice to talk this all out with fellow "grammar nerds" :)


It's called a "tonic pronoun" or a "clitic" in English. I've learned more about them since we last communicated. There are several different kinds of clitics, and one of them is what English defines as a "particle." See:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clitic https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grammatical_particle

Examples of ENGLISH particles that are prepositions used adverbially to narrow/modify the verbs' meaning: run INTO, run UP, run OUT, run FOR, stand UP, stand DOWN, stand UNDER. Some grammarians consider such particles to be a type of de facto inflection.

Example of SPANISH particle: Veo A su madre. I am not absolutely certain, but I believe that the "clitic a" is a syntactic requirement of Spanish to indicate/acknowledge(?) that there is no indirect object (IO). I still haven't figured out why, though.I read somewhere that the "tonic a" indicates that the IO is "null." I just picked up this last bit of jargon on a Spanish website that was describing how Yo veo = veo because the subject pronoun is considered null in "veo."

And, yes, I am going to look up the "passive se" as soon as I get the chance so that I can confirm my theory. I think you are right that "passive se" is the jargon for what I was writing about. Thank you.


Because "los" is "the" and "sus" is "his", "her", or "their"

  • 620

Well, yeah, I know that, but see my first reply to Linda from NJ about reflexive verbs. It's like when you say cierre los ojos for close your eyes, or levanten las manos, for raise your hands, etc.


What's wrong with:Que han puesto que son pantalones en


Don't understand putting the "se" in here.....anyone?


They have out their pants on themselves. "poner" is to put or place, and the reflexive version, "ponerse," is to put something on one's self (clothing) If you are not up on reflexive verbs, check them out at this good site, www.studyspanish.com -- look under Spanish Grammar.


+1 for studyspanish, you might not make it through subjunctive/imperative without that site open in another tab!


I'm a little unclear about when to use "se" & "le." Any helpful tips or websites?


Thank you sooooo much - really appreciate the site...


Without the "se," they could have put their pants anywhere (in the drawer, in the laundry, in their boyfriends' bedroom).


Thank you that makes more sense.

  • 2036

I was confused about that too. Now I understand. Thank you.


I think I'm finally getting the hang of reflexive verbs. I got this right on the first try!


If i recall correctly, she put the plates on the table, did not require the aditional article and leaves me with question of the diference between the two.


I was taught by a Mexican teacher that it is correct to use the singular when referring to articles of clothing. , He said that ,in Spanish, using the plural in this case means that each man put on several pairs of pants.


what´s about vestirse? Does anyone know why it isn´t accepted?


why here se is used.I can't understand


I just want to say thank you to the various people on here who do not speak English as their first language. The fact that you often make little mistakes in translating the English makes me feel much better about the fact that I do not need to worry about getting every little detail correct in my Spanish. I really mean this. I get so caught up in my errors that I sometimes feel like quitting but you make me realize I can learn Spanish even with my errors. THANK YOU! I learn so much from these comments.


Ellos son hijos grandes ahora!


Is "puesto" an irregular verb? I expected it to be something like "pusado"


Can someone help me with the use of "Se"? I have been struggling with the uses of "Se", "lo", "le", "te", "la" etc for quite some time now. This answer of mine went wrong just because of that one thing.


"Se" is the reflexive pronoun used for "ellos."


ellos se han puesto los pantalones


I wonder why "Ellos se pusieron los pantalones" is not correct...


To expand on st.stephen's comment, "Ellos se pusieron los pantalones" does not give you any information about the current state of their pants (they may very well have taken them off again), while "Ellos se han puesto los pantalones" tells you that the pants are still on as you speak.


Yours is a very interesting comment. Are you saying that Spanish speakers naturally try to tell as much as possible about the past, present, and future timelines? I, myself, would have translated "Ellos se pusieron los pantalones" as "They put on their trousers." Would you mind commenting on whether this is correct?


That would be preterite: "They put the pants on" The original sentence is present perfect: "They have put their pants on"


Hablo español 4fur4 y "Ellos se pusieron los pantalones" is correct igual que "Ellos se han puesto los pantalones". Almost makes no difference. Se entiende perfectamente. Greetings


Is "han calzado sus pantalones" wrong?


Mohrchen, hablo español y " calzado " It is used for putting shoes, no clothes


I used "llevar" to translate "wear" and was rejected...


http://forum.wordreference.com/threads/ponerse-su-la-camisa.2107412/ For those wondering about the "los/sus" thing, check out this wordreference.com link. Word Reference is my best friend, I hope you find it useful as well!


where does the on come from, why no en in this sentence?


In English, you have to think of the verb as being "put on", not "put" with the pronoun "on". These are called "compound prepositional verbs" (http://grammar.yourdictionary.com/sentences/15-sentences-using-compound-subjects-and-compound-verbs.html) Prep. verbs in English tend to have a (very) different meaning than the underlying verb - "putting someone on" means something different than how "put" is usu used. The corresponding verb in Spanish need not be compound or prepositional; ponerse is the (reflexive) one-word verb that conveys the meaning in the English prep verb, "to put (something) on (oneself.)" That's why there isn't a direct correspondence between the English "on" and the Spanish "en" here.


Porque no puedo usar el verbo 'vestirse' aqui, como Ellos se han vestido sus pantalones??


Confusing translation


Im not sure when to use 'se'. Does it something you memorize with time or there some sort of reason behind it?


It's reflexive because they put them on themselves not on the table, for example.


Hola Daniel: Ej: El hombre se puso el pantalón, la mujer se peinó, él se fué, alguien se hizo algo a si mismo. No hay que memorizar, sino entender cuando debe usarse.(The man puts on his pants himself, the girl combed her hair herself, It is something that one does to oneself) I hope help you


I dropped the "es" from my answer. Can someone explain to me why please?


In English pantalones are trousers whereas pants means bragas.


In English, underwear and panties = bragas. In English, underwear and briefs = trusas.


Could someone explain the use of "se" here ?


Hola! Ej: El hombre se puso el pantalón, la mujer se peinó, él se fué, alguien se hizo algo a si mismo. No hay que memorizar, sino entender cuando debe usarse.(The man puts on his pants himself, the girl combed her hair herself, It is something that one does to oneself) I hope help you


El hombre se puso el pantalón = The man puts the pants on himself. La mujer se peinó = The woman combed her hair (of her). I put "of her" in brackets because it is a null indirect object.


Ok. Thank you! I am learning English


SpanshDict claims that poner and ponerse can both be translated as "to put on" regarding clothing (http://www.spanishdict.com/translate/poner). However, unless I missed something, it doesn't seem that RAE feels the same way (http://dle.rae.es/?id=TdpEAZG).


Why is "se" used here?


The feedback said null instead of han


So how do we know when to use that tricky little "se?" You guessed it, that's the only part I missed


What's wrong with: Que han puesto que son pantalones en


Why does "se" accompany "haber"?


¿Por que no puesto sus bragas?


Why se there?


the first time around I selected this version and you told me that it was wrong! What is going on?

Learn Spanish in just 5 minutes a day. For free.