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Better Call Saul #5

Context: Jimmy is being told he should find a new professional name to go by.

Chuck: Why ride on someone else’s coattails?

Spanish Subtitle: ¿Por qué beneficiarse del éxito ajeno?


Even though this ends up being a vocabulary issue, it’s really a grammar issue.

“Por qué” and “porque” -- “why” and “because” really do have the same central, core idea. It’s the way they’re used grammatically that sets them apart.

I thinks this is one of those times where the nomenclature makes it MORE confusing, so let’s just look at some sentences.

I didn’t study BECAUSE I was tired
= No estudié PORQUE estaba cansado

WHY didn’t I study?
= ¿POR QUÉ no estudié?

I don’t know WHY I didn’t study
= No sé POR QUÉ no estudié

Then “porqué” (with the accent) is a noun. It’s the reason or cause of something.

El porqué no estudié es que estaba cansado
= The reason I didn’t study is that I was tired

In short, if you memorize that “porque” means “because” and “por qué” means “why” (even when not asking questions) -- that’ll cover you almost always. Just do that =)


I always like this one. Sure, at first it was confusing. “El éxito” looks like “exit”.

But once we get over THAT, “éxito” is a fun word to say! I guess because of the accent on the E? Éxito!

It’s like “actuá” from the other day! Actuá!

But maybe the fun has nothing to do with the accent? Maybe it has everything to do with the fact that “el éxito” means “success”.

But it’s VERY OFTEN used when we say “to be successful” -- even though it’s not a verb, nor does it become one. HUH?

We’re getting off track a little. But “to be successful”... the most common way to say that in Spanish is, “tener éxito”. Literally “to have success”. That’s what they often say for “to be successful” though.

But using the Get Literal Method, we quickly see, “el éxito” is being used in THIS example, exactly like we use it in English. Yawn.

Why ride on someone else’s coattails...
= Why benefit from the SUCCESS... (get literal)
= ¿Por qué beneficiarse del ÉXITO...


As the comments on my YouTube video attest, I was wrong. There are more than two contractions in Spanish. When you take into account local slang, text message talk, and even slurring.

But barring all that, there are two contractions in Spanish, and “del” is one of them.

When the sentence would normally call for “de” and “el” next to each other--you smoosh those E’s together, to form “del”.

“De” can translate many ways in English--most often as “of” or “from”. Also, and this is very connected to “of” and “from” -- “de” is often used in Spanish to show possession--when we’d use an apostrophe in English.

In this example, it’s hard to say which is happening, I think both. Because in reality, “de” is “de” and all its different meanings and uses, for the most part, exist only in our Gringo minds =)

ride on someone else’s coattails (possession with apostrophe, else’s)
= benefit FROM THE SUCCESS (get literal)
= beneficiarse DE EL éxito
= beneficiarse DEL éxito

Two Magic Travel Spanish Words: A & De [Spanish Quickie]

The Only Two Contractions In Spanish [Spanish Quickie]


Ya know, I think I’ve seen “ajeno” around, but I definitely never knew what it meant. This Dosis Diaria forced me to take the time figure it out. I don’t think we have anything like “ajeno” in English.

It’s an adjective, so “ajeno” or “ajena” (in this case it’s “ajeno” to match “el éxito”).

And all its different meanings seem to have the same central, core idea: external

In this case, it’s being used to say “of somebody else” or “somebody else’s”.

benefit from the success OF SOMEBODY ELSE
= beneficiarse del éxito AJENO

Personally, I would’ve translated that like this:
= beneficiarse del éxito DE OTRA PERSONA

I don’t see myself using “ajeno” anytime soon. But at least now I know what it means when I see or hear it! Cool!


Obviously “beneficiar” means “to benefit”. That’s obvious, right?

“Beneficiar” is often used reflexively in Spanish, as in this example, even though we don’t say “benefit yourself” in this context in English.

Reflexive means the subject is doing the action of the verb to themselves. In Spanish, it’s communicated with “se” almost always.

...why BENEFIT from...
= por qué BENEFICIARSE del...
= why BENEFIT YOURSELF from...

It IS weird that they say the equivalent of “to yourself” (se) when we normally don’t. But that IS more literally what’s happening in reality.

In fact, I noticed recently, by default, unless it’s specifically stated otherwise--or we know it to be otherwise from the context in some other way--the subject does the action of the verb to themselves.

They don’t always say it in Spanish, and we rarely say it in English, that does seem to be what’s happening though.

But in this case, they do say it. With “se” =)

Reflexive Verbs [Spanish Quickie]

SE is a Monster! (Monsters Aren’t Real) [Spanish Quickie]

Going On A SE Hunt [Spanish Quickie]


¿Por qué beneficiarse del éxito ajeno?

= Why benefit yourself from the success of somebody else?

= Why ride on someone else’s coattails?

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