I noticed that one of your examples was “Me hice un sándwich de pavo antes”, meaning “I had a turkey sandwich before.” Does “me hice” just mean “I ate”, or does it mean “I made myself”? How would you say “I made myself a sandwich” (if it’s different)?
You’re right to point that out. I usually translate not literally, but semantically. In slang, it’s not so much about “what the word means” but “what the words and sentence convey”. But sometimes I go overboard.
In this, the words me hice mean “I made for me”, but I thought it was implicit by context that “I made and ate”. Of course, if you are holding the sandwich as you say it, it’s clear you have not eaten it yet. I guess it would be the same in English.
So I’m sorry for the confusion. For the sake of strictness:
Me hice un sándwich.
I made a sandwich for me.
Me preparé un sándwich.
I prepared a sandwich for me.
[Me] comí un sándwich.
I ate a sandwich.
[Me] tomé un sándwich.
I had a sandwich.
I can’t pass on commenting the optional me in the last sentences. It’s called dativo ético and it’s a marker indicating that the decision was yours, it was out of your whim, and it affected you: “I feel like it so I did it for me”. You can see these pseudo-reflexive verbs as reinforcing an implicit indirect object: I am the one taking a profit out of this. Many common constructions are more often seen with it than without, especially when you do things that might feel like an indulgence:
Se vio toda la primera temporada de Siete Vidas en una tarde.
S/he watched the whole first season of Siete Vidas in one afternoon.
This example, for instance, feels a bit more formal if you take out the se.
If I had to guess, this dativo comes from imitation from other sentences where the pronoun acts as an explicit indirect object. Consider this:
Compré una Wii el sábado.
I bought a Wii last Saturday.
This sounds… robotic. Ok, sure, you got a Wii. For whom? Why are you being secretive? So you usually say:
Me compré una Wii el sábado.
I bought a Wii [for me] last Saturday.
Yes, you could have guessed that you just don’t go around gifting people Wiis, so, in absence of a birthday-related context, if you bought one it was for you, but in Spanish we make it explicit. On the other hand:
Me cogí el coche y me fui a hacer surf.
I took the car and went surfing.
You would be tempted to think the first me is here because you took your own car, and not somebody else’s, so it’s an actual indirect object. Like this:
Le cogí el coche y se lo arreglé.
I took his/her car and fixed it for him/her.
But… it’s still present even if the car is explicitly somebody else’s:
Aunque ella vive a setecientos kilómetros, me cogí el coche de mi padre y me fui a visitar a mi novia.
Even though she lives 700km away, I took my father’s car and went to see my girlfriend.
So in these cases it’s filling a different role.
Finally, to restate the “things you do because you feel like” vibe, you can’t use it if you had no power over the action happening, so this doesn’t work:
*Me vi a Susana por la calle.
You bumped into her, so it was not your choice. More obviously, compare:
*Me gané la lotería.
Me gané su confianza.
I gained his/her trust.
But… (there are always buts)
El muy cabrón se ganó 500€ en un sorteo.
He won 500€ at a raffle, that bastard.
That’s language for you ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Originally published in Talk like a Spaniard.