Today we’re going to look at a form of “sí” that amazingly doesn’t actually mean yes.
Immediately then, you may be thinking we are referring to “si” (without an accent over the letter i) which means if.
But no, the accent is very much there. So without further ado let’s take a look at the meaning of this often unnoticed form.
To explain best what this mystery form of “sí” means, we need to refer way back to POST #28 and our introduction to pronouns. There we learnt about prepositional pronouns
. These are the pronouns that follow words like to, from, with, without, about, towards etc…
They are used to express a relationship with what precedes them. For instance: “Es para mí” (It’s for me)
or “Yo estaba pensando en ti
” (I was thinking about you).
“Sí” then, is one of the prepositional pronouns. Let’s quickly remind ourselves of the full table: Prepositional object pronouns
| ||Singular ||Plural |
|1st Person ||mí (me) ||nosotros/nosotras (us) |
|2nd Person ||ti (you) ||vosotros/vosotras (you all) |
|3rd Person ||él (him) |
sí (himself, herself, itself, yourself)
|ellos/ellas (them) |
ustedes (you all)
sí (themselves, yourselves)
Probably one of the main reasons we tend not to notice that this form even exists is that it’s rarely used following prepositions like “a” (to)
or “para” (for).
Notice that in the 3rd person there are both forms that reference him, her
but also himself, herself, itself
. We are much more likely to use forms like him, her
when following prepositions.
So then, if “sí” is rarely used after prepositions, when does it crop up?
“Sí” is a gender and plural common pronoun that expresses himself, herself, itself, yourself, themselves
As usual the best way to explain how this form is used, is by seeing some examples:
|Spanish ||Meaning |
|“En sí mismo” ||In itself |
|“Tienen que creer en sí mismos” ||They have to believe in themselves |
|“Ella se envió un correo electrónico (a sí misma)” ||She sent an email to herself |
|“El chico se baña (a sí mismo)” ||The boy bathes himself |
|“Trabajarán para sí mismos” ||They will work for themselves |
|“Él solo quiere el bien para sí (mismo)” ||He just wants good (things) for himself |
|“Sí, si es en sí (mismo) lo correcto” ||Yes, if it's in itself the right thing (to do) |
Notice that in the above examples, all of them pair “sí” with a form of “mismo” meaning same
. This combination is so common that it is almost idiomatic that “sí” should be followed by a form of “mismo” to express different forms of self.
Of course, the form of “mismo” must agree with the gender and plurality of the subject.
I think we can say with some degree of certainty that “sí” and “mismo” combinations have become almost idiomatic over time to help avoid any confusion with “sí” potentially meaning yes.
Another reason we may not even notice “sí” + “mismo” constructions is that they can be used with reflexive verbs, which are already self-referencing. Thus the inclusion of “a sí mismo” forms is often purely for emphasis. Conclusion | En conclusión
“Sí” most commonly means yes,
but as we’ve learned today, especially when followed by a form of “mismo”, it functions not as an adverb of agreement, but as a prepositional object pronoun.
Whilst “sí” doesn’t crop up too often after prepositions, when it does we should instantly be thinking about a form of self
and not the word yes,
and certainly not if.
Once again highlighting the importance of accented vowels in the Spanish language