"She looks a lot like her mother."
Translation:Ella se parece mucho a su madre.
If I'm understanding correctly, Ella se parece muy como su madre ---- Basically would translate as: She looks like very like her mother. You don't need the como because it's repetitive. You need mucho instead of muy (a lot vs very). You need the se to reflect that it's herself that's like the mother. And you need the "a" to indicate the mother is a person and not an object.
pararerse a + object = to look like
To start this analysis, first a discussion of direct and indirect objects. In the example, "I send her a letter," the word "letter" is the direct object (DO) and "her" is the indirect object (IO). In other words, the English syntax (i.e., order of words) when it comes to indirect objects is: I - send -> her -> letter. To make the syntax of the English sentence "I send her a letter" the same as the syntax of its translation into Spanish, you must convert the IO into the object of a preposition (that is, make it "to her" instead of just "her") and place that prepositional phrase at the end of the sentence. In other words, convert "I send her a letter" to "I send a letter to her (subj -> verb -> DO -> prepositional phrase "to her").
The syntax of the English sentence "I send a letter to her" (subj -> verb -> DO -> prepositional phrase) resembles the syntax of the English sentence "She looks a lot like her mother" (subj -> verb -> DO-> prepositional phrase). In addition, "like her mother" can be placed where an English indirect object would go: ("She looks like her mother a lot"). This English syntax is: subj -> verb -> prepositional phrase -> DO.
Also, the Spanish modifier "mucha" becomes a different part of speech when converted into the English "a lot" (article + noun). It changes from being an adverb to being a noun phrase.
Accordingly, the English translation of "a lot" is considered the DO (because it is a noun) instead of an adverb, such as the adverb "really" that might also be substituted in this translation (She really looks like her mother.)
The point of all this is that, except for one thing, the"se" in "Ella se parece mucho a su madre" has nothing to do with any pronoun that is a direct or indirect object. By default, that means that "se" must be reflexive. Thanks, rspreng, for giving us the colloquial definition.
This is the first lesson I've encountered where Duolingo does not provide sufficient explanation over a few important points. Links to other websites that others have provided in this discussion have been very helpful in understanding the reflexive pronoun "se" (which refers to the speaker as both subject and object) and the personal "a" (which is always used over "como" because it refers to a person). DL should provide explanation in the overview, especially since (in the words of the other website) not using these correctly are a serious error.
No, it refers to "Ella", see reflexive verbs - http://www.studyspanish.com/lessons/reflexive1.htm
"mucho" is an adverb here, not an adjective:
As an adjective, "mucho" changes to agree in gender and number with the noun it modifies:
mucho café - how much coffee? a lot of coffee
mucha leche - how much milk? a lot of milk
muchos coches - many cars
muchas casas - many houses
As an adverb, it does not change form:
Corrí mucho - modifies a verb
se parece mucho - modifies a verb
Thank you so much. Unobvious--until pointed out--and obvious thereafter. Adjectives (can be gender modified because they modify gender specific nouns) Adverbs modify verbs (and only wierd verbs would be gender specific). I was so afraid I would get another one of those unsatisfying and perplexing answers like "its Spanish, we can't explain it, just learn it" or "it is mucho because in this case its the predicate nominative of the hypotenuse."
Ella luce mucho como su madre. Or, Ella se parece mucho a su madre. I've never seen "luce mucho como" before. I looked for lucer as a verb but did not find anything close. Somehow, luce como seems to not require the personal a, either. Could someone shed some light on this construction? Gracias.
The verb is "lucir." I'm sure it's the "como" that yields no personal "a."