What It Means

The so-called ‘ethical dative’ or ‘dative of interest’, where the use of an indirect object pronoun expresses the involvement of the subject in the action of the verb, intensifies such feelings as sadness, happiness and mockery.

Ten cuidado, y no te me cortes un dedo. (F. Monge, in a lecture given at the University of Antwerp. 11 March 1983)
Be careful you don’t cut one of your fingers.
(By using me the speaker indicates that he is involved, that he will be sorry if it happens.)

El marido empezó con unos comentarios imbéciles, y me le reí en la cara. (M. Puig, 1980: 61)
Her husband began with some stupid remarks, and I laughed in his face.

La semana pasada se nos suicidó un parroquiano. (E. Mendoza, 1985:44)
Last week one of our parishioners committed suicide.

¿Y si soy un monstruo? ¿Y si me la violo? (A. Bryce Echenique, 1981: 85)
And if I’m a monster? And if I rape her?

The text cited is from Jacques de Bruyne, “A Comprehensive Spanish Grammar,” Blackwell Publishers, 1995.

(c) 2021 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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