Why is "se" necessary here? I feel like we've been using reflexive verbs early on without "se". Yo corro. Yo camino. Ella nada. Ellos hablan. Why don't these have "se" in them? Isn't "El se cae" literally saying "He fell himself"?
All the other verbs you mention are not reflexive in Spanish, but caerse is. You really can't translate this as "he fell himself", the best translation is simply "he fell"... it's just a peculiarity of the language that you have to include "se" before the verb.
I'm struggling to think of any reflexive verbs in English (though I'm sure there are some), so it's a concept that's difficult to get across.... it's just one of those things you have to remember for particular verbs.
Consider the English expression, "to help oneself," meaning, to go and take something for your own use without it being served or handed (or perhaps even offered) to you. The meaning differs subtly but significantly from the ordinary senses of the word "help," to improve something or provide some benefit or assistance to someone. Used in this way, "help" is a reflexive verb: it requires the subject-referential reflexive pronoun (myself, yourself, herself, themselves, etc.) to make sense. I think this is rather unusual in English. We usually just use reflexive pronouns when the direct oject happens to be the same as the subject (e.g., I like myself, she gives herself rewards, he likes to hear himself talk). I know in German, however, there are many verbs, or senses of verbs, that require a subject-referential object pronoun (e.g., ich rasiere mich, I shave, er zieht sich an, he dresses, etc.), called reflexivverben. Apparently many European languages, including Spanish, have such verbs. It's just something you have to get used to.
First, thats a perfect example because using the reflexive version changes the definition, which is strange, but hey, English is still worse.
Does german really have both doublevey and double-v's?? What the hell??
Sometimes the verb with se indicates not only reflexive, but accidents or unplanned actions.
caerse has a fair range of meanings in English including "la red se cayó" - the network went down/fell over, the (non-reflexive) caer has even more. I kept seeing some variant of "El criminal cayó tras..." in a newspaper where it means "was caught". As ever worth checking http://www.spanishdict.com/translate/caer for common examples that would be hard to guess...
Thanks BartMilner. Relevant links to Spanishdict is always a welcome sight. However, this one actually added some confusion since that page shows both caer and caerse being used seemingly interchangeably. So, I did a little more digging and found this forum discussion:
While it had some helpful information, the consensus of the discussion was that there really is not any hard and fast rule as to whether or not to use the reflexive pronoun. Another helpful link I found is the following:
It seems that there are really only general guidelines that indicate the reflexive pronouns should be used with this verb for people and accidental events, but even then it depends on the desired emphasis
se really doesn't translate back to english but definitely needed. Just an indirect object pronoun.
spanishdict translates it like that to. caerse is fall downwards, or fall off something.
That would be "Él lo deja caer," which translates to "He lets it drop." "Caer" means "to fall"; "dejar caer" means "to drop."
I put "he falls over" and got marked wrong. Is there actually a difference between "falls over" and "falls down", or is this just something I need to chalk up to a DL oddity...?
i would say that 'he falls over' should be correct. in fact if i were writing this in english i would not say 'he falls down' at all - it doesn't sound normal to me (I'm British). It sounds more like something a child would say.
I'm American and I feel that it's unnecessary to add "down" or "over" unless I know what the situation is. For example, I'd say something like, "He fell down the stairs," "It fell down to the ground,"or "She fell over the banister." If I don't know the context, I just say, "She fell." If I had to choose, though, I'd choose down.
I think this argument about the English "fell" actually helps me understand why this verb requires se in Spanish. Apparently the term can be somewhat ambiguous.
I'm British too, maybe it's an american thing. If I get this question again I'll report it.
Yes, I've learned from Duolingo that this seems to be British vs US preference. Falling over means something different than falling down in most cases from an American perspective.
yes, in English I would definitely say there is a difference between "falls down" and "falls over." I'm on this discussion trying to understand the caerse thing, but saw your question and offering up a reply...
I think it means the unconjugated form of the verb.
So 'caerse' would be 'to fall'.
Does this necessarily have to be reflexive? Also, could I use "él caese"?
Some verbs, like "caer," need the "se" at the end to clarify. For example, "ir" means to go, and "irse" means to leave. I guess "caerse" means "to fall down."
As for your second question, "se" is attached to "caer" because "caerse" is an infinitive. But for "he falls," you can only say "él se cae."
Haha, also struggling with the reflexive verbs here. I guessed "He let himself go".
i think "fall over" is mainly like either tripped or about fainted. To fall (down) is just the normal falling. I don't know if you're American or not, but in American English, we almost always have a preposition at the end of a lot of verbs. It sounds so weird to us, like we are left hanging, when people from many other countries (i.e. Nigeria, India) speak, and don't "finish" the sentence! For instance, "I set the cup." WHAT? You set DOWN the cup? or are you setting it, like setting the table?!? "I shut him." No! You shut him DOWN!! "I turned the chair." No, you turned OVER the chair. (but you CAN just "turn" a page!!!) What is even stranger, is, until recently people ALWAYS said "passed away" as a euphamism for dying. Now, suddenly (the last few years) people are saying "passed." This is extremely weird, as "passed" normally means, like passing in a race, or in an aisle, or on the street, etc. PASSED AWAY means to die. So it's like the Americans suddenly started talking a different form of English! Can't really figure that one out! Anyway, you can close the door, you can shut the window, but you can't "put" the light (if you're American): you put OUT the light! :-)
What is the purpose of the "se"? He hangs himself/it would seem to make sense.
Sometimes the reflexive pronoun 'se' is used with what can be seen as describing unplanned things (he bumped his head, he dropped his keys, he forgot, he fell). That said, this can't be 'he hangs himself.' (Does it list that as an answer? I would use the verb for 'to hang': colgar). There is no 'himself' in the sentence without using 'se'.
"He falls." is not reflexive in English, but In Spanish it is reflexive and "se" is required. You can think of it as "He lets himself fall." if that helps, as if he could always have prevented it. (Interesting cultural difference, huh?)
Why isn't "he is falling" a correct translation? Many other times in Spanish this structure would work. eg. "Ella come" could mean she eats or she is eating.
Hola, Erin. I think "He is falling" is a perfectly valid translation for the present tense. Duo, however, often interprets this as the present progressive tense (Él se está cayendo) and usually rejects it. Your best tactic with Duolingo is to avoid it whenever possible.
In Englizh the phrase he falls over and he falls down are interchangeable.
meanwhile, I think I got my Spanish and Vietnamese mixed up! (and I don't usually do that, but...) In VN, the "se" means future tense, and I put "He will fall," lol: WRONG! I didn't even realize why until I got onto the discussion and figured out what I'd done!!