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  5. "Pero esto nunca antes se hab…

"Pero esto nunca antes se había tratado."

Translation:But this had never been tried before.

December 22, 2012



what is the purpose of the"se"


I'd say it's not really reflexive the way i understand that term, but it is passive, which also uses the "reflexive" pronoun case in Spanish. The object isn't the same as the subject (that would be "this had never tried itself") but the object IS the focus of the sentence.


That is correct. It is equivalent to English´s passive voice, and the reason the English version gets a ¨been¨ in it. I do it is active. It was done is passive. It has been done is passive present perfect and it had been done is passive pluperfect. se había hecho


But spanish has "sido"

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(And estado). If you're thinking this could have been phrased in a whole lot of ways in English and Spanish, you're right. For one thing, tratar means many very different things. So how were you going to use sido? To see examples of the work of other translators (not that they're necessarily perfect), go to http://www.linguee.com/ , check English-Spanish, and enter sido tratado


I was once taught that it is called an "impersonal se," but nevertheless, it is, as you say, different than the reflexive se. it is se used in the same way as it is in the very common Spanish phrases: "Cómo se llama..." and "Cómo se dice...." for just two examples.


Yes, impersonal and passive are very very close in Spanish, being used in about the same situations, and both being expressed with ´se´


I'm no expert, but for the translation, it adds the "been". Otherwise, it is "But this had never tried before" which isn't complete and needs some object. "This" is the thing being tried, hence the "se".


More specifically (also no expert here), it makes it reflexive. "This" is being tried. "This" is the object of "try" (tratado), and since it is the subject (of "had," había) it will require se to make it reflexive.


Se's many uses are confusing, but I don't believe 'se' is reflexive here as 'this' is not trying itself. As vandermonde and rogduo have pointed out, 'se' gives this sentence a passive voice in that the do-er of the action (in this case, the 'trying') is not mentioned in the sentence. Instead, in passive voice the subject (in this case, 'esto') is acted upon by someone unnamed. Active voice: But they had never tried this before. Passive voice: But this had never been tried before.


what's the difference between "before" and "previously"? seems to me they mean the same thing


Similar meaning, but different words. Always bears minding that duolingo prefers the more literal. YOu may be right, but DLs database may not know that.


How about "Pero esto nunca antes había sido tratado."


I think the sentence in the exercise would be the more commonly spoken and understood way of saying it.

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"But this had never been addressed before" didn't make the cut. I'm clicking it should be accepted.


Addressed or discussed are perfectly acceptable in translations of this sentence. While "tratar" does mean "to try" in Spanish, at least here in Spain it is equally common to use "intentar" for "try" and to say "tratar(se)" when you want to say "discuss" or "address". Ex.: "De eso se trata" or "En la reunión esta mañana tratamos el tema del nuevo presupuesto."


Or "dealt with" ("deal with" the subject of...) should also work.


While good English, addressing something and trying are not the same thing. Have to be pretty close for DL to know.


Its been a long time since Ive had a sentence with se that confused me. I find myself wanting to respond as

Pero esto nunca había sido tratado de antes

but I can see by others who understand that my answer appears wrong. I did find these reference examples but maybe they are leading me astray.

Me dijo que todo había sido aprobado

You said everything had been approved. OR

Lo que tenemos en mente no ha sido intentado antes. (present imperfect)

What we have in mind has never been tried before.

So where am I going wrong?? I thought tratado always had to be followed by de in case you wonder. I feel 'this/esto' is the subject pronoun but somehow others see it as the object of the 'tried' or action. I think I missed a lesson a long the way. I saw one comment on this page that is perhaps getting me to think differently but I'm still confused. The statement was by SFJuan "Active voice: But they had never tried this before. Passive voice: But this had never been tried before." Is this it in a nutshell and if so what role is 'this' in the sentence. Does it not refer to a noun mentioned previously giving us the context of what this is?


Then I found this example suggesting two ways to construct this sentence-

The two most common ways to conjugate the Spanish passive tense are: the passive se (se publicó el libro) and the passive with ser (el libro fue publicado). Below you will find the passive voice conjugated in third person indicative:

TENSE EXAMPLES TRANSLATION Present es publicado / se publica is published

Imperfect era publicado / se publicaba it used to be published

Preterite Fue publicado / se publicó it was published

Future será publicado / se publicará it will be published

Conditional sería publicado / se publicaría it would be published

Perfect ha sido publicado / se ha publicado it has been published

Pluperfect había sido publicado / se había publicado it had been published

Future Perfect habrá sido publicado / se habrá publicado it will have been published

Conditional Perfect habría sido publicado / se habría publicado it would have been published

When using the passive ser, keep in mind that the participle must agree in number and gender with the subject of ser.

Also, there exists a passive continuous form of ser (estar siendo publicado / está publicandose, etc.), but it is not very common.

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Not to worry. Usage trumps rules. If a phrase is commonly used to mean one thing, then that's that. But a Google search reveals this particular phrase has also been used for "had never been more obvious" and "had never been explained before". The "had never been tried before" just comes back to this thread. So I suggest this particular exercise does not warrant just a whole lot of thought.


Hola rmcgwn, I think two things might help you. One is clarification on English active vs passive voice. And the other is the many uses of 'se' in Spanish.

Here is a link on active/passive voice: http://www.englishpage.com/verbpage/activepassive.html.

In active voice, the subject performs the action of the verb, and the direct object receives the action. In passive voice, the subject receives the verb action (acts like the direct object) and the "doer" of the action is ommited (or introduced with the prepositional phrase 'by subject'). Active voice: 'The boy lost the money', the subject, 'The boy', is who does the 'losing', and the direct object, 'the money', what was 'lost'. Passive voice: 'The money was lost', the subject, 'The money', is acting as direct object and is what was lost, and person or thing that did the 'losing' is ommited.

'Se' has MANY uses in Spanish: http://spanish.about.com/od/pronouns/a/introduction_se.htm.

One of the uses is as the equivalent of the English passive voice. By using 'se', you can indicate some sort of action without indicating who performed the action, just as in English passive voice. Active voice: 'El niño perdió el dinero' (The boy lost the money), and passive voice, 'Se perdió el dinero' (The money was lost). The literal translation would be 'The money lost itself', but it really is a way of omitting the person or thing that did the action and the correct English translation is passive voice.


SFJuan- I really appreciate your explanation. I think I understand the uses of se or perhaps I should qualify that by saying yes I understand the rules but with this particular sentence I don't see a passive statement. [To me, "this" is a demonstrative pronoun taking the place of a noun & therefore serves as the subject despite not knowing what "this" is without knowing the context] From an earlier post I made you can see that I did find that my response turns out not to be wrong. Nevertheless I want to understand for future use how to use "se había" for "had been". I have gotten a little closer when I saw a verb conjugation chart for example


So perhaps we could say that what we may have here is the use of a reflexive verb and that it may not be a passive statement. Now I wonder if "se habia" is in fact ever used without a reflexive verb following because the following verb is what triggers se?? Not the sentence itself?


I see, you believe that this sentence is possibly using 'tratarse' rather than 'tratar'. It might be, but passive voice equivalent definitely works here as well. 'Se' is hard.


Also, you asked what's the role of 'this' in: 'But they had never tried this before' (active voice), and 'But this had never been tried before' (passive voice).

In Active voice, 'this' is the direct object; it is what had never been tried. The subject is 'they'.

In Passive voice, 'this' is the subject, but it acting as the direct object receiving the action of 'tried'; it is still what had never been tried. The true subject, 'they', has been omitted.


Can I write: "Pero esto nunca se había tratado antes." notice the change of order


Tratado could be discussed as well


"But this had never been addressed before." seems to me a more natural English expression. But do I have the meaning right?

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I think so. Look at the last entry on this page: http://tinyurl.com/obl97dy . It doesn't translate it as addressed, but the translator sure could have correctly used addressed.


The sentence order if change to this can be accept too?

Pero esto nunca se había tratado antes.


why can't you say: But one had never tried this before.


That would seem perfectly defensible.


If the sentence didn't include the "se", would it be acceptable to translate it as "But he has never tried this before"? If not, what would the Spanish equivalent be? Would "Pero nunca antes había tratado de esto" be better?

Would "Pero nunca antes se había tratado de esto" be passive again?

Sorry about all the questions.

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For "he has never tried this before", I would probably say: Pero él nunca ha intentado esto antes. Note has / had = ha / había. If you say "Pero nunca antes había tratado de esto", I would wonder "What had never been about this before?" because tratar means a lot of different things, including to be about. I'm not a native speaker. I find tratar confusing so I use intentar for to try. I'm not the only one confused. See: http://www.spanishdict.com/answers/3377/tratar-vs.-intentar


debería decir "Pero esto nunca antes había sido tratado" "But this never before had been treated"


How can I know 'this' is the subject in this sentence? I guessed "But he never tried this before"

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Because if you translate it word for word it's close, as long as you understand "se había tratado" is "had been tried". It comes out "But this never before had been tried". For all I know, that would work. Usually literal translations don't work.


Could you say "But he had never treated himself before"?


Where does the "been" come from and what is the purpose of "se"

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See my post above and this link: https://www.spanishdict.com/guide/passive-se-in-spanish (but that's overthinking it).


"Pero esto nunca se había tratado antes", should be accepted, correct?


What verb is being used for "tried"? Tratar seems to be anything but 'to try'. Tratado means treaty. Why not use probar?

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