"Él se cae."

Translation:He falls down.

February 13, 2013


Sorted by top post


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"?

January 15, 2014


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.

January 15, 2014


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.

May 28, 2016


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??

May 19, 2017


so would you say, "yo me cao"?? that doesn't seem right.

January 21, 2018


That would be: Yo me caigo.

January 21, 2018


Sometimes the verb with se indicates not only reflexive, but accidents or unplanned actions.

November 24, 2014


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...

December 22, 2016


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

April 19, 2017


I think el cae means he falls but el se cae means he falls down

June 28, 2016


Good guess but I don't think it means that. The "se" does not mean "down."

July 19, 2016


se really doesn't translate back to english but definitely needed. Just an indirect object pronoun.

September 28, 2017


spanishdict translates it like that to. caerse is fall downwards, or fall off something.

September 16, 2018


No fell is PAST

January 30, 2019


I tried he hangs himself, well, could be? ;-)

June 20, 2013


We think alike! I wrote the same. Lost a heart.

March 5, 2015


Él se cae = He falls over ??

February 8, 2015


How would you say "He drops it." ?

April 28, 2015


That would be "Él lo deja caer," which translates to "He lets it drop." "Caer" means "to fall"; "dejar caer" means "to drop."

June 27, 2016


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...?

July 2, 2013


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.

May 27, 2014


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.

December 11, 2015


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.

December 26, 2015


I'm British too, maybe it's an american thing. If I get this question again I'll report it.

May 28, 2014


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.

November 24, 2014


I agree. Just what a Kiwi [ and maybe an Aussie] would say.

August 19, 2015


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...

January 21, 2018


what is the difference between "se cae" and "caerse"?

February 13, 2013


caerse is the infinitive

February 13, 2013


aWhat does that mean? :)

June 18, 2013


I think it means the unconjugated form of the verb.

So 'caerse' would be 'to fall'.

November 6, 2014


Does this necessarily have to be reflexive? Also, could I use "él caese"?

September 29, 2013


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."

June 27, 2016


Thank you

February 13, 2013


Haha, also struggling with the reflexive verbs here. I guessed "He let himself go".

June 8, 2016


There is caer....to fall. I fall = Caigo. Then there is caerse...to fall. I fall = me caigo. I can't figure out the distinction. I someone falls........THEY FALL. No ifs ands or buts about it. Can someone please explain this.

March 11, 2017


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! :-)

January 21, 2018


We have people falling, again.

September 4, 2017


What is the purpose of the "se"? He hangs himself/it would seem to make sense.

September 7, 2013


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'.

November 24, 2014


"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?)

December 29, 2013


He falls down. Where do they get down?

June 29, 2016


He falls over, is wrong Why? It is the same as down.

July 24, 2016


no, not the same at all

January 21, 2018


How would you say he falls off?

September 1, 2016


Why can't it be, "He is falling down"?

January 17, 2017


It should be he fell down

May 10, 2017


It would be the past tense of the verb (cayó) if it meant "fell."

May 10, 2017


thank you (o) (o) ' __

May 15, 2017


Lol amble2lingo

May 16, 2017


La y El calla

May 30, 2017


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.

June 1, 2017


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.

June 1, 2017


In Englizh the phrase he falls over and he falls down are interchangeable.

October 12, 2017


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!!

January 21, 2018


My ears are not so good, I heard él saque but él se cae was the answer. Did anyone else fall into this trap? Perhaps the stresses are on saq (1st case) and ca (2nd case).

June 7, 2018
Learn Spanish in just 5 minutes a day. For free.