The other day at breakfast I commented to my wife Gina:
Híjole, el café está demasiado dulce.
Wow, the coffee is way too sweet.
Lo siento cariño, se me pasó la mano con el azúcar.
I'm sorry dear, I got carried away with the sugar.
The verb "pasar" is one of the most common and useful verbs in Spanish and it would be impractical to cover all of the uses in one blog post but I thought it might be nice to share this phrase "Se me pasó la mano" with my friends who are studying Spanish because it is a good one to have handy in casual conversation. The phrase "Se me pasó la mano" means to go overboard, to go too far, to overdo it, to get carried away, to cross the line, or to do too much of anything in general. You can use it in a number of different ways. For example:
Se me pasó la mano en lo que dije a mi vecino.
I went too far with what I said to my neighbor.
Qué no se te pase la mano, regañando a tu hijo.
Don't get carried away with scolding your son.
(Note the use of the subjunctive "pase" because it is a command.)
Se nos pasó la mano con los gastos de nuestro viaje.
We went overboard with the expenses for our trip.
Se les pasó la mano, tomando el tequila en la fiesta.
They went overboard drinking tequila at the party.
Se te pasó la mano con la sal.
You went overboard with the salt.
If you want to tone it down a degree or two and make it a suggestion and not a condemnation you can add words like "poco" or "poquito":
Creo que se te pasó la mano un poco.
I think you crossed the line a bit.
Jefe, creo que se te pasó la mano un poquito con el trabajador nuevo.
Boss, I think you were a little hard on the new worker.
You can even use it to excuse yourself after making a boo-boo by saying:
¡Upps! Creo que quizás se me pasó la mano.
Oops! I think I may have crossed the line.
You can also elevate the emotion to show frustration or anger:
¡Esta vez se te pasó mucho la mano de lo que hiciste!
This time you really crossed the line with what you did!
¡Con este, se te pasó la mano!
With this you went too far!
You can even turn it into a question:
¿Por qué se te pasó la mano?
Why did you get carried away?
¿Cómo que se te pasó la mano?
How is it that you crossed the line?
Note that although the majority of the time that you will hear this phrase it will be used to convey a negative sense it can also be taken in a positive sense meaning to outdo oneself depending upon the situation. For example, if you were congratulating somebody you might say something like the following which, when taken in context, is meant to be a compliment:
Se te pasó la mano con el libro.
You outdid yourself with the book.
Señora, se te pasó la mano con la cena.
Ma'am, you really outdid yourself with the supper.
I suggest that you practice the above phrases and write them down on some index cards. Go over them frequently until you have the pattern committed to memory. In that way when you want to use "Se me pasó la mano" in a conversation you will have the correct pattern and word order and you won't stumble around just when you're trying to sound "cool".
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