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Le in "verbs like gustar"; Le in leísmo

Le encanta el poder y le atrapa la noche

She loves power and the night ensnares her

Caption 6, Chayanne - Lola

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The Spanish verb encantar literally means "to enchant" or "to delight greatly," so when Chayanne sings "le encanta el poder," he means to say that "power enchants her" or "power delights her." In English we would simply say "she loves power." If this looks a lot like the way we use gustar (to please) when we want to say someone "likes" something, that's because encantar belongs to a family of verbs known as "verbs like gustar." These verbs always take an indirect object pronoun, usually to refer to the person who in the English version would be the subject, and in this example the "le" is the indirect object pronoun (her), referring to "Lola."

Atrapar/"to trap; to ensnare" is NOT a "verb like gustar," but Chayanne, in the interest of lyrical flow, seems to be doing his best to set it up like one. First, notice he is putting the subject la noche/"the night," after the verb atrapa/"ensnares" (a bit unusual, but not incorrect). Secondly, he is referring to Lola using the indirect object pronoun "le," but in this case it is really acting as a direct object pronoun. You can tell because it answers the question "what?" about the verb ("The night ensnares 'what?' It ensnares her") rather than the question "to whom?" or "for whom?" which would call for an indirect object pronoun.

Note that, unlike indirect object pronouns, the direct object pronouns in Spanish DO have gender distinctions, "lo" for him and "la" for her. Chayanne could have expressed the same sentiment by putting the subject before the verb and using the proper direct object pronoun, making it clearer for most Spanish learners:

La noche la atrapa.
The night ensnares her.

Strictly speaking, "le" is not to be used as a direct object at all, but Chayanne, like a great many of his fellow Spanish speakers, IS using "le" as a direct object. The phenomenon of using the indirect object pronoun "le" (or its plural "les") where you technically should have used a direct object pronoun is known as "leísmo," and its use varies by region. It is common enough that it is not always heard as "wrong" by a great many Spanish speakers, and there are even a few cases where "le" is seen, even by the strictest grammar mavens, as an acceptable alternate to the "proper" direct object pronouns.

These "acceptable" cases of leísmo usually involve the substitution of "le" for the masculine direct object "lo," but Chayanne is substituting "le" for the feminine direct object "la"—which, while not entirely unknown in colloquial Spanish, is usually not considered "acceptable" by those with learned opinions on such matters (such as the RAE).



Further reading:ísmo


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