In Spanish we sometimes say something like «Me pasó a un amigo». For example, you could be telling someone to be careful when doing something because otherwise something bad and possibly embarrassing could happen and say «Me pasó a un amigo». This is a play on words: we have the sentence «Le pasó a un amigo», which translates very directly as «It happened to a friend», but we change the «Le» to a «Me» which turns the sentence ungramatical but suggests the idea that one is trying to hide that actually it happened to us. In Spanish to happen can take an indirect object directly (in English you need the proposition to: it happened to me), and we are using the «wrong» pronoun for comedic effect. In «Me pasó a un amigo» there are two different indirect objects, the me and the a un amigo, and that is what makes the sentence incorrect, understandable, and funny.

Can one say something with a similar effect in English?

  • Are you asking whether English has a saying with a similar meaning (as alphabet answered below) or whether English also has verbs that can take multiple indirect objects? May 26, 2023 at 5:07
  • The title has been edited from «an English version» to «an English equivalent», but the two things are not, hm, equivalent — the current, hm, version is asking for much more, unreasonably much more. May 26, 2023 at 10:08
  • The broadening allows for answers, Mariano. It's highly unlikely that an idiomatic or even grammatical paraphrase or near-paraphrase of the transliterated "I happened to a friend" exists. May 26, 2023 at 13:08
  • My friend am sure being equivalent to something is a more stringent requirement than being a version of it. May 26, 2023 at 16:11

1 Answer 1


The phrase "asking for a friend" can be used in a similar (joking) way in English. It implies that someone is really asking a question on their own behalf while pretending to be asking on behalf of somebody else.

Of course, this applies to questions, rather than warnings, but it's a roughly similar construction.

TFD gives this definition with two examples:

asking for a friend

A phrase used humorously when one is really asking about something (usually something embarrassing) for oneself.

Hey, are those unicorn decorations inappropriate for a 32-year-old's upcoming birthday? Asking for a friend.

Do we really have to shower every day? Asking for a friend, obviously.

  • Good tangential thinking. Paul set a precedent with "I know a man who ...." May 26, 2023 at 11:21

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.