Translation:They had headed towards the north.
Again the SE. The use of SE seems so vary random to me. I only understand its use when describing phrases like "to wash oneself/i pay myself etc... In the above sample sentence I dont understand How/Why the action being performed by the subject is also being acted upon the subject. Please somebody explain. Gracias
That's exactly what I wanted to write but knowing Duolingo, I guessed it wouldn't be considered as right...but that's the meaning of "Ellos se habían dirigido hacia el norte.", right? And how "They were headed to the north." can be right?? "Ils s'étaient dirigés vers le nord" and not "Ils étaient menés vers le nord"!!??
I have the same problem as you despite reading several different grammar books/web pages on the uses of se. All examples seem to be like ducharse or levantarse which are easy to understand. But usually when I come across se when reading I struggle to understand what its function is in that sentence. If I figure it out I'll let you know!
A lot of these reflexive verbs are idiomatic .i.e. they have a meaning that you have to memorize. For example ir is "to go" but irse, the reflexive form, is commonly "to go away" or "to leave." Just adding "myself" "himself" doesn't work. The meaning of the verb can actually change when it becomes a reflexive form. There is probably a list in one of the better Spanish grammar websites which lists more common verbs which change meaning when they become reflexive. Irse is a big one since it such a well-used one in both its forms. I think the beginning grammar books don't want to totally bamboozle you, so they start with me lavo. That is still uncharted territory for anyone who has not studied a romance language before. A lot of English speakers find the reflexive verbs a huge challenge.
I went the passive route as well and was denied.
According to Babella, whom I have learned to trust, 'dirigir' means "to control" when it's not reflexive. In case 'se' can't serve double-duty by making the sentence passive AND making the verb reflexive, you would have to translate 'dirigir' using it's non-reflexive meaning if you're using 'se' to make the sentence passive, i.e., "They had been controlled towards the north," which doesn't make any sense. Maybe you just have to know that dirigir has a reflexive form???
Eshewan, dirigir means to control or to direct and takes a direct object. Dirige el proyecto. He directs the project. If you are the person you are directing, i.e. going, I direct myself, then the verb to use is dirigirse.
Hucknoog, they are directing themselves, not being directed by some unknown person. Your sentence would literally be: Ellos habían sido dirigido hacia el norte. But that is not the way this idea would be said in Spanish. Better: Se habían dirigido hacia el norte, which is the passive form not the reflexive form, although the same little word "se" comes into play. This could be translated as "One had directed them toward the north." Or They had been etc.
I just had this sentence again (didn't have to translate it, which is why I didn't get it wrong this time haha). The sentence you give as "the passive form not the reflexive form" is the same sentence as the one at the top of this page, no? Does that mean a passive translation should be accepted?
No. That is incorrect in both English and Spanish.
The reason is, "to head for the north" means the north is their destination. To "head toward the north" means that they traveled in that direction but their destination is not stated. It may even be said of something that has no destination.
That difference in meaning is paralleled in Spanish: Se dirigieron al norte is to travel to/for the north.
My translation was rejected for using 'toward' instead of 'towardS'. Duolingo, they are interchangeable. https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/toward-towards-usage