"¿Cómo se escribe gato en español?"
Translation:How do you write cat in Spanish?
Correct me if I'm wrong, but it's my impression that Spanish speakers use the verb "escribir" to express the idea of the English verb "spell." In other words, an alternative (and probably better) way to translate this sentence would be "How do you spell 'cat'?"
That's most likely true. In Polish, we commonly say literally "how do you write [word]?" when we really mean to ask for spelling. Wouldn't native English speaker understand it the same way?
Great comments! I always thought the verb was deletrear, but I just learned that it is only used when spelling a word out loud---not written. Learn something new every day!
Is this escribe instead of escribes because we are assuming usted rather than tú?
In the passive voice ("is written", in this example) the verb is always conjugated to match the subject---gato escribe. "How is cat written in Spanish?" is a much more accurate translation than "How do you write..."
So "How is dog said in Spanish?" would be ¿Cómo se dice dog en español?
Dugggg is correct. This particular Spanish wording is actually an impersonal construction, so there is no agent named who performs (or does) the action of the verb. So there is no Tú, no Usted, no Ustedes, etc, who is asked to do the writing - in the Spanish wording.
I believe DLs interpretation into English "How do you write cat in Spanish?" simply reflects a colloquial or common English way of asking such a question. You is really meant generally, so it is a question to anyone. But note that this Spanish construction completely omits naming any agent, and Dugggg's translation is the better literal equivalent of the Spanish wording.
OR "How does one write cat in Spanish?" or "How does one say dog in Spanish?" "Se" plus the third person singular of a verb can also be the impersonal "one does..."