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  5. "Le dije que habías llamado."

"Le dije que habías llamado."

Translation:I told her that you had called.

April 9, 2013



where is there anything in this sentence that refers to 'her' or anything feminine?


The le could refer to her or him. You have to just pick on of then. Normally, it could also refer to Usted (you formal) but since the Tú form is being used in the sentence (which would imply Te, not Le, being used) one can infer it must be 3rd person, i.e. to him or to her and indirect objects.


Can you help me understand why we would use 'le' rather than 'la' or 'lo' here? Or is there no reason and Duo just threw it in on this one?


Direct and indirect object pronouns: one of the banes of my existence. I'll put some links below, but first I'll share why they're hard for me (and I think for others). Feel free to skip ahead to the links. :-)

First, English does not technically use indirect objects nearly as often as Spanish does. We tend to make them objects of the preposition -- which is a good clue that they're an indirect object in Spanish. "I threw her the ball." = "I threw the ball to her." (I = subject, ball = direct object, her = indirect object in the first sentence, object of the preposition in the second.)

Second, in English we use the same pronouns for both direct and indirect objects: me/you/her/him/it/us/them. In Spanish, some of these are different. (and may also be different when they are objects of the preposition).

Third, in English we cannot have an indirect object without a direct object in a sentence. And yet you can in Spanish. Thus, much frustration about which to use sometimes. (It doesn't help that certain dialects swap some of them.) So, a sentence like "I called her" in English requires little thought -- and we use the same pronouns anyway. I think in Spanish, it's Le llamé (indirect object) but I'm still not sure.

Next, in English the objects (at least as much as I can think) always come after the verb. In Spanish, they mostly come before the verb, but there are exceptions when they can be attached to infinitives, the -iendo and -ando forms, and imperatives (commands).

Add in to this the concept of reflexive verbs which use some of the same pronouns. And you can't have le lo or le la, so they turn into se lo and se la. Because it wasn't confusing enough already. :-)

Lastly, Spanish will throw in a "lo" (sort of an "It") where it doesn't translate into English (or translate naturally), but is needed in Spanish. I forget to use those "lo"s a lot. [Example: In English, there's no problem with just saying "I know." In Spanish, it would probably be Lo sé -- "I know (it)".]

OK, here are some links:





Note: this was written with some humor and with the love of learning the language. The frustration is real, but it's at my wanting to improve; I am not "angry at the language". And I share as a fellow learner, not as an expert.


Thanks a bunch! The explanation was very useful. Wait for your lingot.


You are correct. We are all "frustrated" until that moment arrives where we begin to think in Spanish and not translate from English to Spanish in our minds.


Thank you for the long and informative reply - although I was hoping for a simpler answer :)


Sometimes the answer you need isn't the answer you want...


Sometimes we just can't get the simpler answer. but hey someone tried.


Your answer was great. Thanks! I have a question about Lo llamé. How to tell ours a indirect object? It looks direct to me.


"Lo llamé" is "I called it". "It" is what the verb is acting on, so "it" ("lo") is a direct object.


Sam Here we go again the Spanish lottery with no winners. There is as said nothing to suggest him or her.


"Him" is also accepted. I just tried it.


Why is " I said to her that you had called" incorrect?


That should be accepted and you should report it as such.


It is not technically wrong, but is a bit awkward and just not accepted yet here by DL


why is it le dije instead of la dije


Because "her" is the indirect object here (the direct one being what he said to her). Direct lo/la, but indirect le.


Like Iago said, it is indirect... That's also the reason why Duolingo accepts '' i told --him-- that you had called '


Others had said that it has to be "le" and not "la" because it is an indirect object. What they did not say, is that this is because certain verbs: decir (to day), contar (to tell) preguntar (to ask a question) simply as a rule of grammar DEMAND that you use an indirect object to represent the person being told, asked, etc. Essentially, the logic goes that if someone says something to someone, the something is the direct object and the person who is told is the indirect object.

This is true (the person is an indirect object) whether or not the thing said appears in the sentence or not.

Le dije la noticia ayer.
I told him the news yesterday.

Le dije ayer. I told him yesterday.,

Se lo dije ayer.
I told him it (representing the news) yesterday.


Can someone please explain why "I said that you had called her" is wrong?


this is my question also!


You can't translate it that way because your sentence is a different sentence. Your sentence would read '(yo) deje que, "(tú) le habías llamado". Or, Deje que, "le habías llamado". Notice the position of 'le', which is difference from the Duo sentence, and the use of quotation marks which would be used in a dialogue, when using 'said' as the past tense of decir.

Thus, Your sentence would be:

Dije=I said (past tense of decir) que=that,

"le= to him or to her (or him or her)

habias= you had

llamado (called)"

In summary, The Duo sentence does not say that you called her. It says I told her that you had called. And it doesn't indicate who you called, but just that you called, period.

Hope that helps. I have found that if I think through all of the words and try to put them in correct order , and then try to process them in my head, putting them altogether, I do better with the translation.


thanks, have a lingot


Why not 'I thought that you had called'? It seems correct to me but I would love someone to shine a little light on my situation here.


because the word think isn't even in this sentence...


Thanks. Why is 'I thought' part of the drop down menu for 'le dije'? Or did I just think it was there?


Decirse means to think to oneself, so perhaps that is why it is in the hints.


More importantly (never mind that think isn´t there) it can´t be that you had called, because the person is being addressed with Tú (informal) therefore the Le can´t be referring to an Usted, and thus must mean to him or to her.


What's wrong with just "I said that you had called"?


DesertTerrapin, your translation doesn't include the indirect object (le.)


"i thought that you had called." habias is for you had.


I thought this was, "I said that you called to him". Yikes, any help would be greatly appreciated!


"Le dije que habías llamado.

le= to him or to her (or him or her)

dije=I told (past tense of decir)


habias= you had

llamado (called)

I believe that your sentence would be "Dije que le llamó' and you did not use the past perfect.

Someone correct me if I am wrong.


Gracias, jfgordy. I've got to go back and review all of these object pronouns as well as the reflexive and other ones. So far, this is the most difficult grammar for me! I did the exercises on Studyspanish.com a while back, but I need more help. I need to start with very short sentences at first.


I do see that I missed the past perfect, too. Gracias por la información.


jfgordy, I'm also wondering if the object pronoun in a sentence has to be linked to the closest verb and not separated by a phrase transition which in this case is the word "que". Is the way I'm describing this understandable? In my wrong sentence I had the object pronoun at the end of the second part of the sentence: "I said that you had called to him". I wonder if that is a rule? I'm just guessing here.


Hi Susanna, First, I am a learner like you but I will tell you what I know. The object pronouns (except object of the preposition) go in fount of the conjugated verb except when there is an infinitive, a command or the perfect infinitives,where as the pronouns may be tacked on. For example present participles. Then they can be tacked on the end.

The que is there to connect two phases. Also you cannot split the Spanish infinitive . See this reference for more details. Duo doesn't always like the pronoun tacked on and I don't know why.


Don't pay attention to those Babble advertisements.:)


I won't pay attention to them. ¡Gracias!


if the past tense of "to say" is not "said", but "told", how do you say "said" ??


In Spanish the same verb is used for both. It just a matter of how it is used in the sentence in order to translate into English.


Can you answer my question from higher up then?


What is wrong with "I had told him that you called?"


dijo is past tense for él, ella, Ud.


Why not "I told her that you called" instead of "...had called?" The word "had" is assumed and unnecessary in English, and so my sentence should have been accepted, in my mind.


I agree. I did the same thing. Technically it is not an exact translation but we do omit" had" in English much of the time.


How do we know it's a her in this question


Daniel (much earlier) - you are remarkable - in your humility, knowledge, humor, and obvious love for learnimg the language! So refreshing! If I knew how to give you a lingot, I'd give you a dozen. Meanwhile, thanks so much.


why is this section so hard with simple english its easier! "I told him you called" is correct since to use "Called" means "had"


if you listen to the sentence it also could be; le dije que habia llamado. You can't hear if it was he or me or you. You only know that, if you know who says it and what the situation is.


Is there any reason that . He said that you had called . is wrong?


There is no hint that you told "her" anything! You said it but we don't know if the listener was a woman or man. Very misleading.


That's why either her or him works.


is it me or is the program slowing and struggling this week?


"I told her you called" is correct english and the same as "I told her that you called"

I was marked wrong for the former. Is that a duolingo glitch or would it be wrong as a general practice of translating?


Maybe Duo didn't like that you left out the "had" from the past perfect which was used in Spanish - había.

Other that that, your two sentences both seem fine, I think "that" is optional in this case.


Definitely the had. I was just out of it that day

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