Forum Rocket Spanish Spanish - Grammar Confused on the conjugation of "ofrecer"

Confused on the conjugation of "ofrecer"


In Lesson 4.4, the following sentence is presented: ¿Qué se le ofrece?  The translation is: What can I offer you?

Why is the verb ofrecer conjugated in the third person here, when I am the one doing the offering? Why isn't it ofrezco?

I'm probably too much of a beginner to understand direct and indirect objects, but would I be correct in thinking that the use of se and le in the example sentence would be IO and DO, respectively? Or is ofrecer a reflexive verb (and hence the use of se)? 

I would've thought the correct way to say what can I offer you? would be ¿Qué le puedo ofrecer? or perhaps ¿Qué puedo ofrecerle? 

As you can probably see, I'm really confused!  I'd really appreciate it if someone could explain why this sentence is written the way it is.


If I remember that lesson correctly, a waiter or waitress is asking a patron what they would like, so I think this construction is meant to be in the formal (usted) form.  But it does seem like a complicated structure, especially in the first course. I am in the third course and have studied the lesson on se, and I would have had a hard time translating the meaning of this sentence. If I wanted to ask this question in a formal way I would probably go with your suggestion of "¿Qué puedo ofrecerle?" Estela, who runs my favorite Cuban restaurant here, would just ask, "¿Qué quieres?"


Hi Dan,

Thanks for your response. I agree that there are perhaps less complicated alternatives to the sentence but I'd really like to understand why the lesson has the sentence the way it is. 

Why is the verb conjugated in the third person, when it should be the first person?
Why is le being used? Is it another case of leismo?



​¿Qué se le ofrece?

​It's actually a reflexive phrase.  In Spanish the reflexive is used in an outrageous number of ways.  It's one of the more difficult things to master that no one really talks about.

​The practical meaning is - What can I offer you? or even What can I do for you?
​The literal meaning is - What offers itself to you?

​In English this doesn't really make sense.  We would never think of a 21 oz. New York strip offering itself to be chosen for supper.  But in Spanish it's a very natural way to speak.  One of my grammar teachers, a Peruvian, told me in a half joking way that Spanish speakers just always throw the blame on someone or something else and thus the reflexive form.


Aha! That's exactly the answer I was looking for! Thank you!

So, in terms of sentence structure then, when it comes to using IOPs and DOPs, my understanding is that when you have both in a sentence then the IOP always comes before the DOP. However, you're talking about reflexive pronouns, which is a concept that I have yet to learn. Does that mean that a reflexive pronoun should always come before the indirect object pronoun in a sentence?

If so, then my example sentence makes perfect sense, now that you have explained it.

Thanks again!


I can't really answer your question.  It appears from this example that that is the case.  However, as I sit here thinking, I can't think of another example like that.  Usually reflexive verbs are used with out IOP's.  Ducharse, dormirse, ponerse, lavarse, acostarse, enojarse, conducirse, manejarse, etc.  Perhaps someone else will have a better answer to this.


I came up empty on the reflexive verb question. I'm waiting for that 21 oz. New York strip to offer itself to be chosen for supper. Another great reason to learn Spanish.




Speaking of reflexives, today in my Spanish conversation group I was trying to explain that my motorcycle broke down the other day and left me stranded on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I tried to use "se rompió" but our moderator didn't let me get away with that. She said that dañarse was a better word, that the engine "damaged itself." In this case the reflexive makes more sense, since I or no one else did anything to cause the damage, it did it to itself. 


Good example Dan.


Hi Dan,

There's a great YouTube video on this by Lightspeed Spanish. He discusses the concept of the car breaking down on him, and the use of the indirect object pronoun.

Instead of "rompió", he suggests "averió": "se me averió el coche".


Here is a link to the congugation of of ofrecer.

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