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  5. "Él tiene que lavarse las man…

"Él tiene que lavarse las manos."

Translation:He has to wash his hands.

June 10, 2018



why doesn't "él tiene que se lava las manos." work?


Good question. "lavarse" and "se lava" mean the same thing, but you have to use the lavarse construction when it immediately follows a preposition. So you could say either "(El) tiene que lavarse los manos" or "(El) necesita se lava los manos"

Another Example: Yo tengo que ducharme = I need to shower Debo me ducho = I must shower


Chris, you are partly right here. The verb form after a preposition must be the infinitive.
However, you've forgotten that the infinitive is used after a conjugated verb as well.

To correct your examples:
(Él) necesita lavarse las manos. He needs to wash his hands.
Debo ducharme. I must shower.


Are you saying that in Spanish the word "que" can be used as a preposition? Its translation, "that," is NOT an English preposition. Rather, "that" is an English demonstrative pronoun. Could you give an example of a sentence with a word that is a preposition in both Spanish and English, an example in which a reflexive construction like "lavarse" follows that preposition?


Tiene que = have to, where to is the preposition. Que means a LOT of things in Spanish:


One of the things it can mean is "to" as in "tiene que" "quiero que" etc...


To answer Your fist question,' que' can be used as a preposition ( and i believe in this cases it is). You can't say 'que' always translate to 'that 'sometimes it translate to 'what'. The Spanish word 'que' does not translate well at all to English. Don't do word for word translation things like this mess you up.


So right, joseph_d_stein! Coming back to this page a year later, I would just like to add that, in my opinion, the Spanish word "que" is a particle in this sentence.

Particle definition: (in English) any of the class of words such as "in, up, off, over," etc., used with verbs to make phrasal verbs. Usually, it seems as though English particles of phrasal verbs are omitted in Spanish translations. Perhaps "que" is the exception because "has to" and "must" are both alternative translations of "tener + que."


Branden, the construction tener + que + infinitive is used to say what you have to do. Your se lava has to be in the infinitive form.
Spanish generally doesn't have two conjugated verbs together, and your sentence would be translated something like [He has to he washes his hands].

This rule often works in English, too:
Tengo que lavarme la cara. I have to wash my face.
Quiero estudiar. I want to study.

And sometimes the infinitive in Spanish doesn't translate to an infinitive in English:
Puedo ayudar. I can help.
Debo comer. I should eat.


Although "ayudar" and "comer" are infinitives, they can be translated into English gerunds, because in English both infinitives and gerunds can be used as noun substitutes.

However, if sentences like "Puedo ayudar" and "Debo comer" are translated using English gerunds, then sometimes it is necessary to use the subjunctive "be." Respectively, "I can be helping" and "I ought to be eating."

Just for the record, it should be noted that the English defective verb "ought" can be used to translate all of the different Spanish conjugations of "deber." "Ought" is the more old-fashioned, but still used, synonym for "should" in the voluntary sense.

If you want to translate "deber" in the coercive sense, then you use the English defective verb "must," as in "I must be eating" or "I must be helping." However, if you choose to use "must," it is more customary English to simplify, as in "I must eat" and I must help/I must be helpful." In these last sentences, "must" is used as a helping verb.


ChrisSerpe, reflexive verbs can be–and often are–translated as English present progressive tense. Thus, "Él tiene que se lava las manos" literally translates to "He must/has to is washing his hands."


Why lavarse not lavar?


Lavar = to wash (clothes, car)
Lavarse = to wash oneself (one's hands, one's face)

Lavarse is a reflexive verb. The se on the end of the infinitive indicates that, and when you conjugate it you use the reflexive pronoun before the verb:
Me lavo las manos. I wash my hands.
Te lavas la cara. You wash your face.
Se lava los pies. He washes his feet.
Nos lavamos el pelo. We wash our hair.
Se lavan los codos. They wash their elbows.

Lavo mi coche los sábados. I wash my car on Saturdays.
Me lavo el pelo todos los días. I wash my hair every day.

Much more at studyspanish.com (Grammar Unit Five).


Wonderful explanation. Thank you.


You're welcome.


finally, I understand, thank you.


I've developed a technique for understanding the multiple verbs. Only one verb will be conjugated. If there is a second verb in the sentence it will be the infinitive form. I have to eat "Yo tengo que comer". Tengo is conjugated, comer is the infinitive. I can read; "Yo puedo leer". I do have trouble knowing whether the construction requires an extra article. Should it be Puedo leer, or Puedo a leer? Or does that depend on the application?


It depends on the verb and the application. There's no shortcut for these, you just have to memorize how each verb is used. There's an organized list at https://www.lawlessspanish.com/grammar/verbs/verbs-with-prepositions


I found it confusing that "manos" is feminine but ends in "o". Goes to show that you can't always use that trick!


I am having the same problem...why is it LAS MANOS rather than LOS MANOS


Because "manos" is feminine.


Wouldn't it change based on the gender of the subject?


Would it also be correct to translate: "He has to wash her hands"? If so wouldn't, "He has to wash the hands" be better? Now officially confused by two languages. Perhaps we need a new English term, "bi-bewildered" or "poly-perplexed".


To clarify, I wouldn't translate a sentence as "He has to wash her hands" unless that sentiment was specified in Spanish, as in "Él tiene que se lava las manos de ella."

What you need to understand, kbrady49, is that this is colloquial Spanish. In other words, whenever "las manos" follows a reflexive verb, "las manos" always means possessive pronoun + "manos." Another example is "Nos cepillamos los dientes." (We are brushing our teeth.)


El tie que lavarse las manos


El tiene que lavarse las manos


I do not understand. Why do we not use his or hers (su) since the person is washing their OWN hands? why use las ( plural of the)??


Because the fact that it is reflexive "levarSE" already lets you know that it is "his" hands that he is washing. Another "his" is not needed.


This woman mumbles...


If la or el = the , then why is las here 'his'?


When talking about body parts, Spanish uses the article. Since the verb is reflective, you know that it is "his".


Thank you for the clarification


using word blocks the word has is a choice instead of his


"his hands" should be "sus manos", no?

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