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Antojar: Feeling Like

Let's take another look at the quote from our video:


Bueno es una... se puede variar con todo lo que... lo que se le antoje.

Well it's a... you can vary it with everything that... that you wish.

Captions 29-30, Desayuno Puerto Escondido - Frijoles Refritos

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In the same sentence, the second of the two verb constructions is se le antoje. Why se le...? Well, it turns out, antojarse [or, more accurately, antojársele] is a particular verb that only appears in the third person. Antojársele means "to fancy," "to strike one's fancy," "to feel like," "to want" or "to have in mind." This particular construction conveys the sense that the person with the wish isn't completely in control of the situation. Let's dig into a few examples to help clarify: From Collins Spanish Dictionary, we glean:

Se me antoja una cervecita
I could go for a nice beer

No se me antoja ir
I don't feel like going


To conjugate this particular verb, note that only the object changes; the verb itself is always in the impersonal, third person. So it's:

Se me antoja = I feel like Se nos antoja = we feel like
Se te antoja = you feel like Se les antoja = you all feel like
Se le antoja = he/she/one feels like Se les antoja = they feel like

[Remember in past newsletters, we've looked at other verbs that take direct objects. Specifically, we've coverered "gustar" (e.g., "me gusta"; see newsletter #20), "encantar" (see newsletter #48), and "emocionar" (see newsletter #69). Here, we're looking at what happens when you slap a se in front. In fact, one can (se puede) make a lot of generalizations in Spanish using se, like this one.]

Note that there are other verbs in Spanish with the "-sele" construction that express unplanned, even out-of-control, occurrences. Some of the most common examples you might hear:

acabársele a alguien = to run out of
caérsele a alguien = to drop
ocurrírsele a alguien = to dawn on, to get the idea of
olvidársele a alguien = to forget
perdérsele a alguien = to lose
quedársele a alguien = to leave something behind
rompérse le a alguien = to break

For example, Se me perdió la llave might be translated into English as "I lost the key" but a more literal-minded, word-for-word translation is more like "The key was lost on me." It's a great way to reduce culpability, no?


As a final note: Related to the verb antojar is the oft-heard noun antojo, which means "whim." Pregnant women famously have antojos which we'd translated as "cravings" for, say, pickles and ice cream.


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