Forum Rocket Spanish Spanish - Grammar ¿Qué se le ofrece? Lesson 4.4 is this using the usted form?

¿Qué se le ofrece? Lesson 4.4 is this using the usted form?



From Level 1, Lesson 4.4

¿Qué se le ofrece?

from the lesson, the translation is: “What would you like?”


Having jumped ahead a bit and having already been reading up on pronouns in a grammar book, I gather from the conjugation of the word ofrecer and the pronoun le, its using the formal version?

So what is the se doing there?  Isn't that the reflexive se?



“Que se le ofrece” baffles just about everyone at first, particularly the advanced grammar being introduced so early in the middle of the first course.


It's like a first person asking “what would you like” in a third person manner.


The more direct meaning seems to be “what can they offer you?”


?Que se le ofrece?, literally “what (unidentified third person((s))) to (context ‘you’ singular formal) offer (third person singular doing the offering)”


While not a direct corrolation, I think it's like a waitress asking you in english “what are we having today” when it's obvious she's not going to be doing any of the eating.


“Que se le ofrece” was explained to me once by Liss and I asked a couple of spanish speakers but I didn't get it then. Doesn't mean I've entirely got it now.


It is what it is.


“Se” has quite a number of uses, it's everywhere and to me it's like the swiss army knife of spanish.


The average native speaker of spanish on the street might not be able to tell you what “se” means in every instance, the speech either sounds right or it doesn't.


I think at the first course level it should be taken like a tourist book phrase and roll with it, the understanding of the grammar will come later.




It took me some time to dig this up, I finally just searched for ofrece rather than the whole phrase.


Here is what Liss told me about “que se le ofrece”


4 months ago

¡Hola Al22!

¿Qué se le ofrece? is a question that has left many a Spanish learner scratching their head! What's happening here is actually a tricky bit of grammar called the “impersonal se.”

The impersonal se allows you to make general statements without a real subject (although in English, we use subjects like “people,” “they,” or the general “you” to create the same kinds of sentences). For instance, the impersonal se is what you're using when you ask something like ¿Cómo se dice “truck” en español? “How do (you) say ‘truck’ in Spanish? / How does (one) say ‘truck’ in Spanish?”

So ¿Qué se le ofrece? is more literally like saying “What does (one) offer you?” - the se is this impersonal se and the le is the indirect object pronoun corresponding to usted. Note that the verb is always conjugated in the third person singular (i.e. the él / ella form) in the impersonal se.

As for Se acabó el gas “The gas ran out” and Se le acabó el gas “He ran out of gas,” these are actually two other types of ses! The first is the passive se, which gives a sentence a passive voice, and the second is what's called the “no-fault se” or “accident se,” which makes actions sound like they weren't someone's fault. 

We cover all of these ses (and more) in Lesson 18.8: All About SE. However, these are pretty advanced topics! While you're still at the start of your learning, it's best to memorize ¿Qué se le ofrece? as a set phrase meaning “What would you like? / What can I offer you?” and leave the rest for later.

Do let me know if you still have any questions!



Ask a question or post a response

If you want to ask a question or post a response you need to be a member.

If you are already a member login here.
If you are not a member you can become one by taking the free Rocket Spanish trial here.