Once you got out of the classroom and began accumulating some practical fieldwork in Spanish, you probably started picking up on different ways that recordar and acordarse are used. Very good. I’m sure we could share notes all day about their various uses, but I want to zone in on just one. Did you notice how to say that something reminds you of something else? So did I, but it took me a while to get it down pat. There was this pesky little de that kept throwing me off, and it was entirely a figment of my imagination. Maybe you’re haunted by the phantom de as well. Let’s cast him out together.
To say remind, recall, bring to mind, etc., you simply use recordar. Not the kind of reminding where you make sure that someone doesn’t forget something– I’m referring to when something awakens memories of something else. Easy enough. However, resist the great temptation to say recordar de. I know– in English we say, this book reminds me OF my second grade teacher. That Pitbull song reminds me OF an old boyfriend. What he said reminded her OF her first time on a boat. It’s so very understandable to want to say me recuerda de in Spanish, and it’s so very wrong. I did it for a long time, and it was a hard habit to stamp out once I realized my error. If you do it, nip it in the bud! I wouldn’t want you to be speaking otherwise flawless Spanish and have this one little two-letter word be your shibboleth.
Some examples culled from old emails:
Me recuerda el verso de Neruda: “Tal vez no seremos tan locos, tal vez no seremos tan cuerdos”. It reminds me of that line of Neruda’s: “Maybe we won’t be so crazy, maybe we won’t be so sane.”
Ahora que mencionas Cien años de soledad, eso me recuerda tu multa en la biblioteca, ¿ya la pagaste? Now that you mention Cien años de soledad, that reminds me of your library fine– did you pay it? (No, I never did. Soy una morosa descarada. So sue me.)
I got the idea for this post while listening to the song Esto no es una elegía by Silvio Rodríguez the other morning. Here are some of the things that the woman he wasn’t elegizing reminded him of.
Tú me recuerdas el prado de los soñadores,
el muro que nos separa del mar, si es de noche.
Tú me recuerdas las cosas, no sé, las ventanas
donde los cantores nocturnos cantaban
amor a La Habana.
Tú me recuerdas el mundo de un adolescente,
un seminiño asustado mirando a la gente . . .
la maldición, la blasfemia de un continente
y un poco de muerte.
Of course, if the thing remembered is a person, you’ll have to say recordar a, but that’s just because of the personal a that always precedes people when they’re direct objects. Nothing special about recordar.
Me recuerdas a mi hermano Drew.
You remind me of my brother Drew.
El olor de su loción le recordaba a su papá.
The smell of his cologne reminded her of her father.
I do so want to say recordar DE, and it takes some major self-control not to do so. Resist the urge. It’s worth it in the end.
Once you start thinking too hard about recordar v. acordarse and to remember v. to remind, I guarantee that your eyes will cross. It’s all the same thing, la misma vaina, but, oh, how they’re used differently. No wonder it’s challenging for those of us learning Spanish to stay on top of it; no wonder Spanish speakers learning English frequently have a terrible time keeping remember and remind straight. It’s always good to have a recorderis from time to time.
What about you? Did you get tripped up by this? Are there other examples of phrases where it’s difficult for you to avoid imitating English structures in your Spanish? If you’re a native Spanish speaker, anything to correct, clarify, comment on or concur with?