‘-AR’ Spanish Verbs Guide: 99 Essential ‘-AR’ Verbs

If you’re about to or currently learning Spanish, eventually you’ll hear about ‘-AR’ verbs. ‘-AR’ verbs in Spanish isn’t one of those topics that you can gloss over and put to bed. In fact, you’ll basically use this type of verbs all the time when speaking Spanish. 

Let’s check some facts. According to El Instituto de Verbología, there are 2252 common, standard verbs in Spanish. And guess what? Nearly 83% of them are ‘-AR’ verbs. Seeing how important these verbs are, in this guide, I’ll cover the key topics and answer the top questions that many Spanish learners have about this topic. 

Here is a quick overview of the things we’ll cover: 

By the end of it, you’ll know everything you need to know about this type of verbs. Don’t hesitate to take a quiz on ar verbs to practice and reinforce what you just learned. 

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Definition of ‘-AR’ Verbs

In Spanish, verbs are classified and named based on their ending. So, in other words, -AR verbs are Spanish verbs that end with ‘-AR’. Check these examples:

Cantar – To sing
Bailar – To dance
Hablar – To speak

The -AR ending on a verb tells you two things. One, that the verb is in its infinitive form and you need to conjugate it. And two, that you need to use some specific endings in order to conjugate that verb. These endings are applied to all regular ‘-AR’ verbs in Spanish. 

Yo canto muy bien. 
I sing very well.

Yo bailo muy mal. 
I dance pretty badly. 

Yo hablo español. 
I speak Spanish. 

Take Note: In Spanish, verbs have three endings -AR, -er and -ir. Each of these endings follows its own specific conjugation model. This means that the difference between ‘-AR’, ‘-er’ and ‘-ir’ verbs is that, when conjugated, each group uses different endings.

graphic showing conjugation groups in spanish

How Do You Conjugate ‘-AR’ Verbs in Spanish

To conjugate ‘-AR’ verbs to most Spanish tenses, you replace the -AR ending with the corresponding ending for the subject and tense required. Regular verbs use the same endings, while irregular verbs may not follow this pattern. The future and conditional tenses are formed by adding endings to the infinitive verb. 

conjugation chart showing the endings to conjugate ar verbs in spanish

As mentioned above, a verb that ends with an -AR is in its base or infinitive form. To conjugate it, we need to replace that ‘-AR’ ending with a new and more appropriate ending. Let me put it in simple terms for you. 

In Spanish, verb endings have a simple, but very important goal: to tell you when an action happened and who performed it. So, when you conjugate, you’re actually choosing an ending that helps you deliver this information. 

Yes, it’s as simple as it sounds. 

Conjugating regular -AR verbs in Spanish

Below are some tables with the regular endings for -AR verbs in Spanish. To make things easier for you, I’ve divided them into some of the more common, simple tenses. 

-AR endings for Spanish present tense

Person Ending
Él / Ella / Usted-a
Ellos / Ellas / Ustedes-an

Here are some simple sentences with -AR verbs in the present tense:

Yo hablo español. 
I speak Spanish. 

Mi suegra cocina muy bien. 
My mother-in-law cooks very well.

Nosotros cerramos la puerta. 
We close the door. 

Ustedes se bañan todos los días.
You guys shower every day. 

Take Note: Many students have difficulties conjugating Spanish reflexive verbs such as ‘bañarse’. To know if this reflexive verb belongs to the ‘-AR’ group, you need to look at the two letters that come right before ‘se’. In this case, bañarse is a Spanish ‘-AR’ verb. 

-AR endings for Spanish preterite tense

Él / Ella / Usted
Ellos / Ellas / Ustedes-ARon

Check these examples: 

Yo bailé con Eduardo. 
I danced with Eduardo. 

¿Qué desayunaste?
What did you have for breakfast?

Leticia compró dos sillones. 
Leticia bought two couches.

Paco y Memo descansaron la semana pasada. 
Paco and Memo rested last week. 

Take Note: All Spanish personal pronouns have their own conjugation ending. Since this allows us to know who performed the action, we don’t need to mention the personal pronoun all the time. Check example #2.   

-AR endings for the imperfect tense in Spanish

Él / Ella / Usted-aba
Ellos / Ellas / Ustedes-aban

Yo no jugaba con muñecas. 
I didn’t play with dolls. 

Tú te sentabas junto a Jessica. 
You used to sit next to Jessica. 

Vosotros cantabais esa canción. 
You guys used to sing that song. 

Esteban compraba helado todos los días. 
Esteban bought ice cream every day. 

Take Note: Vosotros and Ustedes mean ‘you’ and are used to refer to a group of people. However, vosotros is only used in Castilian Spanish, while ustedes is more common in Latin American Spanish-speaking countries. 

Endings for ‘-AR’ verbs in the future tense in Spanish

The simple future conjugations work slightly differently to other tenses. Instead of removing the –AR ending, you simply add the correct ending to the verb in the infinitive form

Él / Ella / Usted
Ellos / Ellas / Ustedes-án

Este año viajaré más. 
This year, I’ll travel more.

Acabaremos la tarea en unas horas. 
We will finish our homework in a few hours.  

La semana que viene, Billy trabajará en este proyecto. 
Next week, Billy will work on this project. 

Mis primas me llevarán al aeropuerto. 
My cousins will take me to the airport. 

Take Note: In Spanish, you can also use the ir + verb in infinitive to talk about future actions. In this case, you don’t need to conjugate the -AR verb. 

Mi prima me va a llevar al aeropuerto. 
My cousin is going to take me to the airport. 

Endings for ‘-AR’ verbs in the conditional tense in Spanish

Just like the future tense, to conjugate an ‘-AR’ verb to the conditional tense in Spanish, you’ll just add the following endings to the verb in infinitive form. 

Él / Ella / Usted-ía
Ellos / Ellas / Ustedes-ían

Yo te ayudaría, pero todavía estoy en la oficina. 
I would help you, but I’m still at the office. 

Iván me dijo que llegaría más tarde. 
Ivan told me that he would arrive later. 

Si fueras más amable, tus clientes no se quejarían
If you were nicer, your clients wouldn’t complain

No creí que olvidarían el cumpleaños de su papá. 
I didn’t think that you guys would forget your dad’s birthday. 

Take Note: The Spanish past participle and gerund can help you build the compound and progressive tenses. For participles, you need to add the -ado ending to the verb stem, while for gerunds you’ll use the ending –ando. 

graphic showing how to form gerunds and past participles in spanish

When to Conjugate ‘-AR’ Verbs in Spanish

In Spanish, verbs are conjugated to indicate who performed the action and when that action took place. As a result, ‘-AR’ verbs are conjugated when they express the sentence’s main action. When working with auxiliary verbs (such as ‘poder’, ‘ir, ‘querer’, etc) ‘-AR’ verbs do not need to be conjugated. 

Let’s break this down, shall we?

Spanish verbs describe and name the main action of a sentence. When we conjugate them, these verbs tell us when (the tense) and who (the subject) performed the action. So, since this information is crucial, if your sentence only has one verb, it’s necessary to conjugate it:

SpanishYo hablar español con Tania. Yo hablé español con Tania. 
TranslationI to speak Spanish with Tania. I spoke Spanish with Tania. 

However, your sentence could also be formed with two verbs. In this case, you only need to conjugate the auxiliary verb and the -AR verb will remain in infinitive form. Check this:

[Subject] + [verb conjugated] + [verb in infinitive form]

Queremos hablar con el director. 
We want to speak to the principal. 

No puedo terminar mi reporte. 
I can’t finish my report. 

Tim y yo nos vamos a mudar a Madrid
Tim and I are moving to Madrid. 

What are the accent marks on ‘-AR’ verbs in Spanish

Regular -AR verbs in Spanish have an accent mark in the following tenses and subjects

Here are some examples:

Mañana no trabajaré.
I will not work tomorrow.

Emma olvidó sus llaves. 
Emma forgot her keys. 

Vosotros bailáis muy bien.
You guys dance very well. 

Nosotros comprábamos nuestra ropa aquí.
We used to buy our clothes here. 

List of Most Common -AR Verbs in Spanish

Many Spanish learners worry about the vocabulary they need to learn to improve their command of the language. When it comes to verbs, a study showed that the most common and basic vocabulary of a Spanish speaker is formed by 400 -AR verbs

The following list contains the top 100 -AR verbs that you need to start learning. Now, I’m not telling you to memorize them all. You can start by identifying the ones that you’re more likely to use in your conversations. 

To make things easier, this list is divided into:

Most common regular ‘-AR’ verbs in Spanish

Below is a list of the most frequently used regular -AR verbs. This means that to conjugate them, and all other regular -AR verbs, you simply need to replace the -AR ending with the corresponding ending (some of which are listed in the tables above). 

Regular Verbs

Acabar – To finish

Acabar in Spanish is used to express that an action ended or that something happened recently. However, its reflexive form acabarse is more commonly used to describe that a person ran out of something. Depending on the context, ‘acabar’ means ‘to finish’, ‘to end’, ‘to sell out’ or ‘to run out’

¿A qué hora acabas de trabajar?
What time do you finish working? 

Mamá, ¿ya se acabó la leche?
Mom, did we already run out of milk?

Aceptar – To accept

In Spanish, aceptar is the direct translation of ‘to accept’. As a result, we use this verb when expressing that we approve, accept or admit something. 

Marcela no aceptó nuestra propuesta. 
Marcela didn’t accept our proposal. 

En esta tienda sólo aceptan efectivo. 
In this store they only accept cash. 

Afeitar – To Shave

Afeitar means ‘to shave’. Since this verb allows us to talk about a person’s grooming routines, we mainly use it in its reflexive form. In some countries, such as Mexico, it’s more common to use its synonym ‘rasurar’.

Sergio no se afeitó esta mañana. 
Sergio didn’t shave this morning. 

Nosotros nos afeitamos ayer. 
We shaved ourselves yesterday. 

Agarrar – To take/To capture

In Spanish, we use agarrar to express that a person is taking, grabbing or holding onto something. In a more informal context, people use ‘agarrar’ as a way to describe where a person is heading to or to say that the police captured a suspect or that person caught a disease. So, depending on the context, ‘agarrar’ means ‘to take’, ‘to grab’, ‘to catch’, ‘to capture’ or ‘to hold on to’

Agarra esa bolsa, por favor. 
Take that bag, please. 

Ayer agarraron al hermano de Julio. 
Yesterday, Julio’s brother was captured

Amar – To love

Although it’s the direct translation of ‘to love’, in Spanish, the verb ‘amar’ is only used to express a great and deep level of affection for someone. As a result, we use ‘amar’ with our significant others and relatives. In informal contexts, people may use this verb to describe things that they really like. 

Jonathan ama a Molly. 
Jonathan loves Molly. 

Mis papás aman viajar. 
My parents love traveling. 

Take Note: When used to talk about things you love, ‘amar’ is a synonym for ‘encantar’. When talking about feelings, ‘amar’ is close in meaning to ‘querer’. However, ‘querer’ doesn’t express the same degree of love in Spanish

Avisar – To advise

The verb avisar in Spanish can be used to express that a person notified or informed someone about something. As a result, this verb can be translated as ‘to advise’, ‘to let someone know’, ‘to inform’ or ‘to notify’. In Spanish, ‘avisar’ can be used in both formal and informal contexts. 

[Indirect object pronoun] + [‘avisar’ conjugated]

Yo te aviso si sé algo. 
I’ll let you know if I hear something. 

¿Le avisaron a sus compañeros de la junta?
Did you notify your coworkers about the meeting? 

Ayudar – To help

The Spanish verb ayudar describes that a person or object provides support to solve or to do something. Therefore, ‘ayudar’ is the direct translation of ‘to help’, ‘to assist’ or ‘to support’. Most of the time, you’ll need to use indirect object pronouns to specify to whom you’re helping.

[Indirect object pronoun] + [‘ayudar’ conjugated]

¿Quieres que te ayude?
Do you want me to help you?

Sonia nos ayudó con el proyecto. 
Sonia helped us with the project. 

Bailar – To dance

In Spanish, the verb ‘bailar’ is not only used to describe the action of dancing, but we also use it to express that an object is unstable because one of its pieces is loose. So, even if it’s the direct translation of ‘to dance’, in some contexts ‘bailar’ is close in meaning to ‘to be wobbly’ or ‘to be unsteady’.  

Saúl baila muy bien. 
Saul dances very well. 

¿Podemos movernos? Esta mesa baila mucho. 
Can we move? This table is unsteady. 

Bajar – To go down / To get out of

Overall, we use bajar to indicate that something or someone is moving to a lower position or level. Additionally, this verb also expresses that a person is getting out of a means of transportation. Depending on the context, ‘bajar’ means ‘to go down’, ‘to get off’, ‘to get out’, ‘to come down’, ‘to take down’ or ‘to drop’. 

[‘Bajar’ conjugated] + [determiner] + [noun]

Baja ese cuadro, por favor. 
Take that painting down, please. 

Ya me bajé del camión. 
I just got off the bus.

Elisa, bajen al segundo piso. 
Elisa, come down to the second floor. 

Bañar – To bath / To shower

Although bañar is the direct translation of ‘to bath’ or ‘to bathe’, in Spanish, we also use this verb as a synonym of ‘to shower’. With this meaning, you can use it as a reflexive verb or with indirect object pronouns. In a culinary context, bañar describes that an ingredient was covered with something. 

Yo me baño antes de desayunar. 
I shower before having breakfast. 

Baña las fresas con chocolate. 
Cover the strawberries with chocolate. 

La enfermera bañó a mi abuelo. 
The nurse bathed my grandpa. 

Borrar – To erase

In Spanish, you can use the verb borrar to explain that some information is being removed or erased from a certain place. 

¿Por qué borraste tu foto?
Why did you erase your picture?

Leí tu reporte y borré algunas cosas que estaban mal. 
I read your report and I removed some things that were incorrect. 

Calentar – To heat up/To fire up

Calentar is always related to heating something or someone. As a result, this verb can be used to talk about increasing the temperature of an object or a person. In colloquial Spanish, calentar expresses that someone suddenly becomes angry because of a situation. So, depending on the context, ‘calentar’ can be translated as ‘to heat’ or ‘to fire up’. 

Calienta la sopa, por favor. 
Heat up the soup, please. 

Jaime se calentó con tus comentarios. 
Your comments fired Jaime up. 

Cambiar – To change/To exchange

Cambiar is the Spanish word for ‘to change’. Therefore, this verb conveys that someone or something experienced some sort of modification or transformation. Cambiar is usually applied when talking about changing clothing, accessories, behaviors, products, physical characteristics and much more. 

Amy ha cambiado mucho. Se ve muy diferente. 
Amy has changed a lot. She looks very different. 

Si no te queda, cambia la camisa por algo que te guste. 
If it doesn’t fit, change the shirt for something you like. 

Take Note: ​​As a tourist, you should also know that cambiar is used to talk about exchanging money. 

Caminar – To walk

The verb caminar is the direct translation of ‘to walk’. As a result, we use it to describe the action of traveling to a place by foot. If needed, you can indicate the place that you’re walking to by including a noun in your sentence. 

Camino al trabajo todos los días. 
I walk to work every day.

Dora y Mike caminaron por horas. 
Dora and Mike walked for hours. 

Cansar – To tire/To bore

In Spanish, cansar describes both physical and mental exhaustion. This verb can be translated as ‘to tire’, to tire out, ‘to get tired’ or ‘to exhaust’ when expressing that something caused you fatigue. Cansar can also be applied to indicate that a person’s actions or behaviors annoy or bore you to the point of being tired. 

Lily se cansó de esperar y se fue. 
Lily got tired of waiting and she left. 

Este libro me cansó mucho, está muy denso. 
This book bored me a lot, it’s too dense. 

Cantar – To sing/To chirp

Cantar means ‘to sing’. So, it is commonly used to indicate that a person is singing a song. However, cantar can also be applied to describe the sounds that birds make. In this case, ‘cantar’ is translated as ‘to chirp’. Additionally, this verb can also be used in colloquial Spanish to express that a person confessed or revealed something, in which case it could mean ‘to squeal’. 

Logan canta muy bien. 
Logan sings very well. 

Mis pajaritos cantan todo el día. 
My little birds sing all day.  

Cenar – To eat dinner 

Cenar refers to the action of having an evening meal. So, it means ‘to dine’, ‘to have dinner’, ‘to have supper’, and similar translations. 

Ayer cenamos tacos. 
Yesterday, we had tacos for dinner

¿A qué hora cenas normalmente?
What time do you usually have dinner

CepillarTo brush 

When it comes to the most common verbs to talk about basic grooming activities, you cannot ignore the verb cepillar. As the direct translation of ‘to brush’, it allows you to describe that people are making their hair tidy or cleaning their teeth by using a brush. 

Corey le cepilló el cabello a su hija. 
Corey brushed her daughter’s hair. 

Cepíllate los dientes y vete a dormir.
Brush your teeth and go to bed. 

Take Note: Since you can use it to describe a daily activity that someone performs on themselves, cepillarse is one of the most common Spanish reflexive verbs. Notice that you only use the reflexive form when brushing your own hair or teeth. 

Comprar – To buy/To bribe

Whether you’re learning to speak everyday Spanish or for traveling purposes, comprar is a must-know verb. It describes the action of exchanging money for a product or service. However, you can also use this comprar in other contexts to explain that someone pays money illegally in exchange for another person’s favor or help. So, depending on the situation, comprar can be translated as ‘to buy’.

Mira, compramos estas tazas en México. 
Look, we bought these cups in Mexico. 

Te compré los chocolates que te gustan. 
I bought you the chocolates you like. 

Take Note: In certain contexts, you can use ‘comprar’ to explain that someone pays money illegally in exchange for another person’s favor or help, in which case, comprar will be closer in meaning to ‘to bribe’ or ‘to bribe off’. 

Contestar – To answer/To talk back

The Spanish verb contestar refers to the action of providing an answer to a question, request or test. So, in this case, contestar can mean ‘to answer’, ‘to reply’ or ‘to respond’. In conversational Spanish, you can also use contestar to express that someone replied to you rudely. With this meaning, ‘contestar’ means ‘to answer back’ or ‘to talk back’. 

Lola, ¿ya le contestaste a Patty?
Lola, did you already reply to Patty?

Joe es muy grosero, siempre le contesta a su madre. 
Joe is very rude. He always talks back to his mother. 

Continuar – To continue/To carry on

Continuar is the Spanish equivalent for ‘to continue’, ‘to keep doing something’,to carry on’ or ‘to extend’. Therefore, you can use this verb to express that an activity resumes after being interrupted or that an action is still happening. When talking about property or paths, continuar describes their extension. 

Continúen trabajando, por favor. 
Continue working, please. 

Disculpe la interrupción, continúe. 
Sorry for the interruption, carry on. 

Take Note: ‘Continuar’ is a slightly more formal synonym for seguir. If you want to sound more natural in Spanish, you should also learn this verb.     

Cortar – To cut/To break up

Cortar refers to the action of dividing something into smaller parts. It can also describe the wounds someone suffered on their skin. In informal contexts, cortar expresses that a relationship is over. So, depending on the situation, cortar can be translated as ‘to cut’, ‘to break up’, ‘to carve’ or ‘to cut off’. 

Matt y Leah cortaron ayer. 
Matt and Leah broke up yesterday. 

Me corté el dedo con el cuchillo, pero estoy bien. 
I cut my finger with the knife, but I’m okay. 

Cuidar – To take care / To keep an eye on

Cuidar conveys the idea of monitoring or looking after a person or thing. Therefore, this verb is close in meaning to ‘to take care’, ‘to keep an eye on’ and ‘to look for’.

Molly, cuida las bolsas, voy al baño. 
Molly, keep an eye on the bags. I’m going to the bathroom. 

Esta semana he cuidado a mis hermanos. 
This week, I’ve been taking care of my siblings. 

DejarTo leave / To stop doing something

In Spanish, the verb dejar is used to express that an activity stopped, that a person left something or someone in a certain place, and to give or ask permission. So, depending on the context, this verb can be translated as ‘to leave’, ‘to stop’, ‘to put’ or ‘to allow’. 

Dejé mis llaves en la mesa. 
I left my keys on the table. 

Melissa y Lori dejaron de fumar. 
Melissa and Lori stopped smoking. 

Desayunar – To have breakfast

Desayunar is the Spanish verb that you use to describe the action of having breakfast. You can use it in Spanish whenever you want to say ‘to eat breakfast’, ‘to have breakfast’ or ‘to have [for] breakfast’.

Desayuné waffles y fruta.
I had waffles and fruit for breakfast.

A veces desayuno hasta las 11 de la mañana.
Sometimes I have breakfast at 11 in the morning.

Descansar – To rest

As the direct translation of ‘to rest’, descansar expresses that someone pauses an activity to relax, recharge or take a break. This verb can work with nouns to describe how you or someone else will be resting.  

Descansaré un rato y después haré la tarea.
I’ll rest for a while and then I’ll do my homework.

Deberías descansar, has trabajado muy duro.
You should rest, you have worked very hard.

Despertar – To wake up

Despertar means ‘to wake up’ and is normally used to describe the interruption of sleep. When a person is woken up by someone or something else, despertar is accompanied by direct pronouns. Additionally, you can also use this verb metaphorically to talk about feelings, memories and thoughts that arise as a result of something. 

Despierta, escuche un ruido en la cocina.
Wake up. I heard a noise in the kitchen.

La despertó el sonido de la lluvia.
The sound of the rain woke her up.

Duchar – To shower

Since it’s the direct translation of ‘to shower’, duchar is a common verb that you can use to describe your daily routines. In most cases, you’ll use its reflexive form ducharse. 

Voy a ducharme, ya vuelvo.
I’m going to take a shower, I’ll be back.

Odio ducharme con el agua fría.
I hate showering with cold water.

Take Note: In Mexican Spanish, native speakers use bañar more frequently than duchar. In other Spanish speaking countries, people may make a distinction between bañar (taking a bath) and duchar (taking a shower). 

Enseñar – To show/To teach

In Spanish, the verb enseñar has two main uses. The first context expresses that someone is teaching another person a skill or information about a subject. In other situations, enseñar indicates that a person is showing or demonstrating something to others. As a result, it means ‘to teach’ or ‘to show’. 

Olivia me enseñó su colección de muñecas.
Olivia showed me her collection of dolls.

Su papá le enseñó a manejar durante el verano.
Her dad taught her how to drive over the summer.

Take Note: Enseñar is commonly accompanied by reflexive and object pronouns to indicate who was taught or to whom something was shown.

Entrar – To enter/To fit

The verb entrar describes that a person is going inside a space or was accepted in a group or place. However, in colloquial Spanish, entrar is also used to talk about fitting in your clothes or to describe emotions that you suddenly feel. Based on this, it’s close in meaning to ‘to enter’, ‘to get in/into’, ‘to fit in’, ‘to suit’, ‘to have’ or ‘to get’.

Este vestido ya no me entra.
This dress doesn’t fit me anymore.

Los abogados entraron a la oficina. 
The lawyers entered the office. 

Take Note: When using ‘entrar’ to talk about clothes and feelings, you will need to use indirect object pronouns. 

Enviar – To send

Enviar describes the action of dispatching something to a particular destination. Although it’s commonly used to refer to packages and letters, this verb also refers to things that are dispatched electronically, such as emails, texts and bank transfers. ‘Enviar’ is the direct translation of ‘to send’

Le envié un mensaje a Teresa pero no respondió.
I sent Teresa a message but she didn’t reply.

La empresa envió su paquete el día de ayer.
The company sent your package yesterday.

Escuchar – To listen

Escuchar is one of the Spanish verbs for 5 the senses. As a result, it’s used to describe the action of hearing. Given that it’s the direct translation of ‘to listen’, escuchar usually expresses that a person is hearing something and paying attention to that sound. 

¿Me estás escuchando?
Are you listening to me?

Sebastian es un gran amigo, siempre me escucha.
Sebastian is a great friend, he always listens to me.

Esperar – To wait/To hope

The verb esperar can be translated as ‘to wait’, ‘to hope’ or ‘to expect’. Therefore, you can use esperar to talk about hopes and expectations, but also to describe that you’re waiting for something or someone. 

Espera, creo que olvidé algo.
Wait, I think I forgot something.

Espero que mañana no llueva.
I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow.

Estudiar – To study/To look into

Even though it’s commonly linked to school learning, in Spanish, estudiar is also used to talk about examining or evaluating something carefully. So, depending on the context, this verb can be translated as ‘to study’, ‘to look into’ or ‘to consider’.

Richard estudia japonés desde hace dos meses.
Richard has been studying Japanese for two months.

El hombre estudió cada uno de los movimientos de sus contrincantes.
The man studied each one of his opponents’ movements.

Funcionar – To work/To run

In Spanish, funcionar indicates that something operates or works correctly. Additionally, it can also describe the elements or conditions that a device or machine needs to function properly. So, ‘funcionar’ can be translated as ‘to work’, ‘to run’, ‘to function’ or ‘to operate’.

Mi plan funcionó, todo salió a la perfección.
My plan worked, everything went perfectly.

Creo que los frenos de mi bici no funcionan.
I think the brakes on my bike are not working.

Este juguete funciona con baterías. 
This toy runs with batteries. 

Ganar – To win/To earn

Many people assume that ganar is only used to talk about winning a prize or a competition. However, Spanish speakers also use this verb to indicate the amount of money they earned as a result of work. So, based on the context, ‘ganar’ can mean ‘to win’, ‘to gain’, or ‘to earn’.

El piloto británico ganó el campeonato.
The British driver won the championship.

Corey gana $2500 dólares al mes. 
Corey earns $2500 dollars per month. 

Gastar – To spend/To use

The Spanish verb gastar conveys the idea of consuming resources or deteriorating things through their use. For this reason, gastar is commonly used to talk about the money or resources that a person or thing expends. Additionally, you can also use it to indicate that some clothing is worn out. Depending on the context, ‘gastar’ means:

  • Spend
  • Use
  • Consume
  • Wear out
  • Run out 

Mi hermana gasta todo su dinero en ropa.
My sister spends all her money on clothes.

Este carro gasta demasiada gasolina.
This car consumes too much gas.

Guardar – To keep/To put away

The verb guardar indicates that a person is putting something in a specific place for purposes of keeping it safe or not losing it. Additionally, it can also refer to the action of putting something where it belongs. As a result, guardar can mean ‘to keep’ or ‘to put away’.

Guarda tus juguetes, por favor.
Put your toys away, please. 

No te preocupes, guardaré tu secreto.
Don’t worry, I’ll keep your secret.

Gustar – To like

Overall, there are three main ways to use the verb gustar in Spanish. The most common one is to talk about likes and dislikes. The second one is to describe physical or romantic attraction towards a person. And the third one is to offer things to people in a polite manner. As a result, gustar can be translated as ‘to like’, ‘to enjoy’, ‘to be attracted to’ or the equivalent of ‘would you like’.

Creo que a Pablo le gusta Brenda.
I think Pablo likes Brenda.

¿Gustas un vaso de agua?
Would you like a glass of water? 

Me gusta la comida china pero prefiero la japonesa.
I like Chinese food but I prefer Japanese.

Hablar – To speak/To call

In Spanish, the verb hablar most commonly means and is translated as ‘to talk’ or ‘to speak’. However, it can also mean ‘to call’ when expressing that a person is calling someone else, through the phone or in person, or indicate that someone speaks a given language. 

Ayer le hablé a Tanya, pero no me contestó. 
Yesterday, I called Tanya, but she didn’t answer. 

Jun habla inglés, coreano y mandarín.
Jun speaks English, Korean and Mandarin.

Take Note: Unlike the other meanings, when referring to calling a person, hablar will always need to work with indirect object pronouns. 

Intentar – To try

Intentar means making an attempt or effort to do something and is the Spanish equivalent of ‘to try’ or ‘to attempt’.

You can use direct pronouns to imply what the person is trying to do.

Lo intenté, pero Oliver no me quiso escuchar. 
I tried, but Oliver didn’t want to listen to me.

Intenté dormir al bebé, pero no deja de llorar.
I tried to put the baby to sleep but he won’t stop crying.

Take Note: Intentar is usually followed by a verb in the infinitive form, which will help you express the activity that you’re attempting to do. Also, you can use the pronoun lo to imply what the person is trying to do. 

Interesar – To interest

In Spanish, interesar is the direct translation of ‘to interest’ or ‘to be interested in’. As a result, we use this verb to describe the topics or things that may be appealing or intriguing for us. 

¿Le interesa contratar nuestros servicios?
Are you interested in hiring our services?

Me interesa mucho la historia de México.
I am very interested in the history of Mexico.

Take Note: ‘Interesar’ follows the same conjugation pattern as gustar. When creating sentences with this verb, you can add adverbs to specify the degree of interest you feel. 

Invitar – To invite/To treat

In Spanish, we use invitar when talking about asking a person to attend a certain event or place. In addition to this meaning, invitar is also commonly used to express that a person is paying for someone else’s food or tickets, among other things. So, ‘invitar’ means ‘to invite’ or ‘to treat’.

Vamos al cine, yo invito.
Let’s go to the movies, my treat.

Christian me invitó a la playa.
Christian invited me to the beach.

Lavar – To wash

As the Spanish equivalent of ‘to wash’ or ‘to launder’, you can use lavar when talking about cleaning something with water and soap. 

¿Lavaste tu ropa?
Did you wash your clothes?

Lavé los platos en la mañana.
I washed the dishes in the morning.

Take Note: Lavar is a transitive verb, which means that it always needs to be accompanied by an object in order to make sense. If the subject and the object happen to be the same, you’ll use the reflexive form ‘lavarse’. Lavarse is one of the most common reflexive verbs you’ll use on a daily basis. 

Levantar – To lift/To wake up

In Spanish, levantar conveys the idea of taking something located in a lower level and lifting it to a higher position. When referring to daily routines, levantar is commonly used as a colloquial synonym for ‘waking up’. So, depending on the sentence, ‘levantar’ can be translated as ‘to wake up’, ‘to raise’, ‘to lift’, ‘to stand up’ and ‘to pick up’. 

Hoy levanté pesas en el gimnasio.
I lifted weights at the gym today.

Levanta esa servilleta, por favor.
Pick up that napkin, please.

¿A qué hora te levantaste hoy?
What time did you wake up today?

Limpiar – To clean

Limpiar refers to the process of organizing or removing dirt from a place or a surface. Therefore, it can be translated as ‘to clean’ or ‘to cleanse’

Limpiaré las cortinas con el plumero.
I’ll clean the curtains with the duster.

Yo siempre limpio la casa y ustedes nunca me ayudan.
I always clean the house and you never help me.

Llamar – To call/To name

The two most common ways to use llamar are when talking about people communicating by phone, and to describe the action of giving a name to somebody. As a result, llamar can mean ‘to call’ or ‘to name’, depending on the context. Additionally, some Spanish speaking countries also use this verb to describe a person trying to get someone else’s attention (saying their name, making a noise, knocking on the door, etc.)

Daniel te llamó hace dos horas.
Daniel called you two hours ago.

Vanessa llamó a su hijo igual que su papá.
Vanessa named her son after her father.

Yo me llamo Ellie, ¿y tú?
My name is Ellie, and you? 

Take Note: The reflexive form llamarse is used to say your name in Spanish. In this case, llamarse is close in meaning to ‘my name is’. 

Llevar – To take/To have been

Llevar is one the most common -AR verbs with multiple meanings. Here is a summary of the different meanings and respective contexts where you can apply ‘llevar’:

  • ‘To take’ – Expressing a person is taking something or someone to another place.
  • ‘To lead’ or ‘to drive’– Describing the consequences of a certain action. 
  • ‘To have been’ – Explaining the amount of time that a person has done something.
  • ‘To get along’ – Describing the relationship between two or more people.
  • ‘To contain’, ‘to have’, or ‘to include’ – Talking about the ingredients in a dish.
  • ‘To wear’ – Describing the clothing or accessories a person was using at a particular time.

Llevaré a los niños al parque.
I’ll take the kids to the park.

Llevo años esperando este momento.
I’ve been waiting for this moment for years.

Mi hermana y mi novio no se llevan bien. 
My sister and my boyfriend don’t get along very well. 

As you can see, it’s an incredibly useful verb in Spanish, so be sure to learn everything about llevar here.

Take Note: Depending on the meaning, you may need to add reflexive or object pronouns to your sentences. 

Mandar – To send/To order

Mandar is a common synonym for ‘enviar’. Furthermore, ‘mandar’ is also used to describe that a person is giving orders to someone else. As a result, it can be translated as ‘to send’, ‘to be in charge’, ‘to order’ or ‘to command’.

¿Leíste el correo que te mandé?
Did you read the email I sent you?

Te mandé que fueras a la tienda. 
I ordered you to go to the store. 

Manejar – To manage/To drive

In Spanish, manejar means ‘to manage’ when talking about administration. When describing a person’s skills to do something, ‘manejar’ means ‘to handle’. In informal sales conversations, this verb is also used to describe the products that a store has to offer. 

El licenciado maneja las finanzas de la empresa.
The licensee manages the finances of the company.

No, amiga, no manejamos ese tipo de fundas. 
No, mate, we don’t handle that type of phone cases.  

In Latin American Spanish, ‘manejar’ is a standard way to say ‘to drive’ and is more frequently used than ‘conducir’.

Necesito aprender a manejar.
I need to learn to drive.

Mirar – To look

Mirar is used to describe a person staring at something or someone else while paying attention. It means ‘to look’.

¿A quién estás mirando?
Who are you looking at?

Mira, este es el regalo que le voy a dar a mi hermana.
Look, this is the gift I’m going to give my sister.

Molestar – To bother/To be upset

The verb molestar is used to describe someone or something being annoying or disturbing others. As a result, it can be translated as ‘to bother’, ‘to disturb’ or ‘to annoy’. However, when used in its reflexive form, molestarse expresses the irritation that a person feels. So, molestarse means ‘to be offended’ or ‘to be upset’.

No te molestes, yo lo arreglo.
Don’t bother, I’ll fix it.

Creo que Carlos se molestó por la broma que le hicimos.
I think Carlos was upset by the joke we played on him.

Necesitar – To need

Since it’s the Spanish equivalent of ‘to need’, necesitar is used to express something or someone’s needs. 

Mucha gente te necesita.
Many people need you.

Necesito terminar mi tarea hoy.
I need to finish my homework today.

Olvidar – To forget

Olvidar is used to describe memory loss and can be translated as ‘to forget’.

Olvidé el nombre de mi maestra.
I forgot my teacher’s name.

¿Olvidaste nuestra cita?
Did you forget about our date?

Take Note: The pronominal form, olvidarse, also expresses that a person left or forgot something. However, in this case, it’s strongly implied that this was an accidental action

Ordenar – To order/To tidy up

Ordenar is translated as ‘to order’ when used to talk about giving commands and ordering things such as food or other items that can be bought and delivered. It can also be translated as ‘to organize’ or ‘to tidy up’.

Ordenaré comida, ¿quieres algo?
I’ll order some food, do you want something?

Ordena tu cuarto, ya casi llegan las visitas.
Tidy up your room, the visitors are almost here.

Parar – To stop/To stand up

Parar has two meanings in Spanish. When it refers to people or things ceasing or interrupting a certain action it means ‘to stop’. However, its reflexive form pararse is used as the equivalent of ‘to stand up’.

Paren todo, mañana seguiremos.
Stop everything, we’ll continue tomorrow.

El público se paró y comenzó a aplaudir.
The audience stood up and began to clap.

Pasar – To pass/To happen

Pasar  is another -AR verb with multiple meanings. If you’re referring to events or experiences that occur, it can be translated as ‘to happen’. When talking about giving things to someone else, it means ‘to give’ or ‘to pass’. In conversational Spanish, pasar expresses that a person is crossing, passing through or entering a place. Finally, it means ‘to pass’, ‘to spend’ or ‘to go by’ when talking about time. 

¿Me pasas la sal, por favor?
Can you pass me the salt, please?

Hace mucho que no paso tiempo con mi familia.
I haven’t spent time with my family in a while.

No sé qué pasó, pero todos están muy enojados. 
I don’t know what happened, but everyone is very upset. 

Peinar – To comb

In Spanish, we use the verb peinar to talk about fixing or styling one’s hair. It can be translated as ‘to comb’, ‘to brush’ or ‘to do your hair’. If you want to indicate that you’re combing your hair yourself, you’ll need to use ‘peinar’ as a reflexive verb.

Hoy no tuve tiempo de peinarme.
I didn’t have time to brush my hair today.

Qué bonita te ves, ¿quién te peinó?
You look really pretty. Who did your hair?

Perdonar – To forgive

Perdonar describes the moment when a person stops feeling resentment towards someone who wronged them. It can be translated as ‘to forgive’ and is accompanied by object pronouns to indicate who is being forgiven.

Perdóname, no fue mi intención.
Forgive me, it was not my intention.

Es muy difícil perdonar a la gente que te lastima.
It’s very difficult to forgive people who hurt you.

Preguntar – To ask/To wonder

When talking about questions and requests, preguntar means ‘to ask’. In some cases, it can also be translated as ‘to wonder’ and be accompanied by object pronouns.

Pregúntale al mesero dónde está el baño.
Ask the waiter where the bathroom is.

A veces me pregunto qué piensan los demás sobre mí.
Sometimes I wonder what other people think about me.

Preocupar – To worry/To care

Preocupar is a verb that relates to concern. Therefore, it’s usually translated as ‘to worry’ or ‘to concern’. In other situations, preocupar also indicates a person’s interests,  in which case it would be translated as ‘to interest’, ‘to care’ or ‘to think about’.

No te preocupes, todo estará bien.
Don’t worry, everything will be fine.

Lo único que me preocupa es tu bienestar.
The only thing I care about is your well-being.

Preparar – To prepare

In Spanish, preparar refers to getting things ready, cooking, or alerting people about something. As a result, it means ‘to prepare’.

Tenemos que prepararnos para lo peor.
We have to prepare for the worst.

Ya preparé todo lo que necesitamos para el viaje.
I’ve already prepared everything we need for the trip.

Quedar – To stay/To be left

When talking about clothing, accessories and styles, quedar means ‘to suit’ or ‘to fit’. In informal Spanish, quedar is used to describe where a place is. This verb can also be used to explain that two or more people agreed to do something. ‘Quedar’ can also be translated as ‘to be left’ or ‘to remain’ in other contexts. Its reflexive form, quedarse, expresses remaining or staying in a certain place. 

Quédate aquí, ya vuelvo.
Stay here, I’ll be right back.

Sólo quedan cinco días para el concierto.
There are only five days left for the concert.

Quitar – To take off/To get out of the way

Quitar describes the action of removing or taking off something from a person or a place, while its reflexive form could also express that a person is getting out of the way. 

Quítate, no me dejas ver.
Get out of the way, I can’t see.

Me voy a quitar el suéter, hace mucho calor.
I’m going to take off my sweater, it’s very hot.

Rentar – To rent

In Spanish, rentar is paying (or charging) an amount of money on a regular basis in exchange for property, a service or an item that may have to be returned eventually. As a result, it means ‘to rent’ or ‘to rent out’.

Renté un carro por una semana.
I rented a car for a week.

Rento mi casa en la playa a un bajo costo.
I rent out my house on the beach at a low cost.

Terminar – To finish/To break up

Terminar is used to talk about finishing an activity, service or product. In this situation, it means ‘to finish’, ‘to get done’ and ‘to end’. Terminar can also be used in romantic contexts to express that a relationship ends. In this case, it’s translated as ‘to break up’.

Sandra y Ernesto terminaron.
Sandra and Ernesto broke up.

En cuanto termine mi tarea hago la cena.
As soon as I finish my homework I’ll make dinner.

Tirar – To throw/To throw away 

Tirar conveys the idea of throwing things. As a result, it can be used when talking about throwing something to another person or when throwing away an object. So, in these situations, it means ‘to throw’, ‘to waste’, ‘to throw out’, ‘to dump’ or ‘to throw away’.  However, when talking about guns, tirar is the direct translation of ‘to shoot’. 

Los niños tiran piedras al lago. 
The kids throw stones in the lake.  

Tira esa ropa vieja.
Throw away those old clothes.

Tomar – To take/To drink

As the direct translation of ‘to take’, tomar can be used to talk about grabbing things, to indicate the means of transportation a person uses and to express people’s attitude towards a situation or subject. But, when describing the beverages or medicine that a person ingested, tomar means ‘to drink’. 

Casi no tomo alcohol.
I hardly drink alcohol.

¿Vas a tomar el autobús?
Are you going to take the bus?

Take Note: In Spanish, we don’t use ‘hacer’ to say ‘make a decision’. We use the verb ‘tomar’ instead. 

Trabajar – To work

Trabajar is the Spanish verb for ‘to work’ and is used to talk about a person’s job. Even though it usually refers to work, trabajar can also be used to express that a person is making an effort to achieve something. 

Los viernes no trabajo.
I don’t work on Fridays.

¿En dónde trabajas?
Where do you work?

Usar – To use/To wear

When describing the clothing or accessories that a person uses, usar means ‘to wear’. It means ‘to use’ when talking about the products, ingredients or services that a person employs to do something. 

Usamos solo los mejores productos.
We only use the best products.

No me gusta usar faldas.
I don’t like to wear skirts.

Take Note: As you may know, there are some verbs whose meanings change depending on whether they’re reflexive or non-reflexive. For example, the reflexive verb usarse refers to things that are commonly worn or that are trendy.  

Viajar – To travel

Viajar is used to talk about traveling long distances to visit another place, usually as a tourist or for work. It can be translated as ‘to travel’.

Viajo mucho debido a mi trabajo.
I travel a lot due to my job.

Mi sueño es viajar por el mundo.
My dream is to travel the world.

Visitar – To visit

When talking about going to see someone or traveling to a place, we use visitar, which means ‘to visit’. Keep in mind that you’ll need to use direct object pronouns if you’re talking about visiting people. 

En mis vacaciones visité el Taj Mahal.
On my vacation I visited the Taj Mahal.

Mi familia me visita cada navidad.
My family visits me every Christmas.

Most common irregular ‘-AR’ verbs in Spanish

As you may already know, there are many irregular verbs in Spanish. In simple terms, these verbs don’t have a consistent conjugation pattern (they may experience spelling changes to the stem, endings or both). Although this can be difficult for many, you still need to know some of these verbs to have an effective conversation. 

For that reason, in the following list, you’ll find the most common -AR irregular verbs in Spanish. 

Irregular Verbs

Acordar – To agree/To remember 

The verb acordar is used to talk about agreements. However, its reflexive form acordarse refers to memories or the ability to remember something. As a result, it can be translated as ‘to agree’, ‘to recall or ‘to remember’

Acuérdate que mañana es la boda de tu tía.
Remember that tomorrow is your aunt’s wedding.

Javier y yo acordamos llegar a las cinco.
Javier and I agreed to arrive at five.

Andar – To walk/To be

Andar has multiple applications in Spanish. It’s a formal translation of ‘to walk’ and it can also express that a device or machine is working. In colloquial Spanish, andar is an informal synonym of the verb ‘estar’, in which case is close in meaning to ‘to be’

¿Qué andas haciendo?
What are you doing?

Brittany anduvo por el parque toda la mañana. 
Brittany walked in the park all morning. 

Take Note: In Mexican Spanish, andar is used in romantic contexts as the equivalent of ‘to date’. 

Me dijeron que Carlos anda con Rebeca.
They told me that Carlos is dating Rebecca.

Alcanzar – To reach/To catch up with

The most common ways to translate alcanzar are ‘to reach’, ‘to be enough’ and ‘to catch up with’. As a result, alcanzar expresses that someone was able to touch or reach something that was far from them. Additionally, it can also refer to a person’s goals and indicates whether or not a product or resource is sufficient.

No alcanzo la repisa más alta.
I can’t reach the highest ledge.

Eres demasiado rápido, no puedo alcanzarte.
You’re too fast. I can’t catch up with you.

Almorzar – To have lunch

Almorzar refers to the action of eating around noon and can be translated as ‘to have lunch’

¿Qué almorzaste?
What did you have for lunch?

Ayer almorcé con mis amigas de la facultad.
Yesterday I had lunch with my friends from college.

Apagar – To turn off/To blow out

As the direct translation of ‘to turn off’ and ‘to switch off’, the verb apagar, and its reflexive form apagarse, are used to express that an electric device was forced to stop working. Apagar can also refer to candles and fires. In this case, it translates as ‘to blow out’, ‘to quench’ or ‘to extinguish’. 

Apaga las velas y pide un deseo.
Blow out the candles and make a wish.

Mi computadora se apagó de la nada.
My computer shut down out of the blue.

Apaga las luces cuando te vayas. 
Turn off the lights before you leave.

Arreglar – To fix/To get ready

Arreglar is mainly used to talk about repairing devices or machines, resolving a problematic situation, or organizing things. On the other hand, when used to talk about people, arreglar expresses that someone is cleaning himself or herself up. So, depending on the context, arreglar can be translated as ‘to fix’, ‘to get ready’ or ‘to clean up’.

Arréglate, ya casi nos vamos.
Get ready, we’re almost gone.

Necesito que alguien arregle la regadera.
I need someone to fix the shower.

Buscar – To search

In Spanish, the verb buscar conveys the idea of attempting to find something or someone. Therefore, it’s the equivalent of ‘to look for’ or ‘to search’. In other situations, buscar can also mean ‘to pick up’. 

Leslie fue a buscarme para ir a desayunar. 
Leslie picked me up to have breakfast. 

Mi marido y yo buscamos una casa con jardín.
My husband and I are looking for a house with a garden.

Take Note: You may need to use direct object pronouns to indicate who or what you’re looking for. 

Cerrar – To close

In Spanish, cerrar is used to talk about closing things and to express reluctance to new ideas. Depending on the context, it can be translated as ‘to close’, ‘to shut’, ‘to lock’ or ‘to cover’.

Cierra la puerta cuando te vayas.
Close the door when you leave.

El centro comercial cierra a las 9 pm.
The mall closes at 9 pm.

Chocar – To crash

When talking about collisions, chocar means ‘to crash’ or ‘to bump into’. Since disagreeing with someone is some sort of collision, you can also use ‘chocar’ in this context. In this case, it would be close in meaning to ‘to be at odds’, ‘to disagree’ or ‘to clash’. Mexican Spanish speakers use chocar as an informal way of talking about the things or people they dislike or that annoy them. So, in these situations, it could mean ‘to dislike’, ‘to hate’ or ‘to annoy’. 

Me chocan los lunes.
I hate Mondays.

Gabriela chocó en la mañana pero dice que está bien.
Gabriela crashed in the morning but she says she’s fine.

Comenzar – To begin

In Spanish, comenzar is used as the equivalent of ‘to begin’, ‘to start’ or ‘to commence’

La carrera comienza a las 11 am.
The race begins at 11 am.

Mi papá comenzó a trabajar a los 16 años.
My dad started working when he was 16 years old.

Contar – To count/To tell

Depending on the context where it’s being applied, the Spanish verb contar can have different meanings. For example, it means ‘to count’ when enumerating numbers or explaining that something is not valid. In formal situations, you can use ‘contar’ as a synonym of ‘to have’ to describe the features of a certain object. Finally, this verb also means to tell when expressing that a person is telling a story or some type of anecdote. 

Cuéntame cómo te fue con Gerardo.
Tell me how it went with Gerardo.

Mamá, ya sé contar del uno al cien.
Mom, I already know how to count from one to one hundred.

Costar – To cost/To struggle

As a beginner or as a tourist, you may already know that costar is used to indicate the price of something. However, if you want to take your Spanish to the next level, you should know that this verb also expresses that something is difficult or hard to achieve. In this case, ‘costar’ means ‘to find it hard’, ‘to struggle’, or ‘to have a hard time’.

¿Cuánto cuesta este abrigo?
How much is this coat?

Me costó mucho trabajo graduarme.
I struggled a lot to graduate.

Dar – To give

In Spanish, dar expresses the general idea of giving something to someone else. You can also use it to talk about the things that a tree or an animal produces. Finally, in conversational Spanish, dar can help describe the courses or topics that a person teaches. 

Jacky me dio un abrazo.
Jacky gave me a hug.

No, ella sólo da matemáticas. 
No, she only teaches math. 

Take Note: One of its most useful applications of ‘dar’ is to describe the feelings that an action or thing causes in you. But since there are numerous feelings and sensations, in this case, ‘dar’ doesn’t have a direct translation. 

Me dan miedo las alturas.
I‘m afraid of heights.

Empezar – To start

When talking about beginnings and making things happen, we use empezar, which means ‘to start’ or ‘to begin’

Ya empezó la película.
The movie has already started.

Empecé a tocar el violín a los diez años.
I started playing the violin when I was ten years old.

Encontrar – To find/To run into

Encontrar refers to locating something that was lost or uncovered. Since it allows you to express that you came across something or someone, encontrar can be very useful for your conversations. So, depending on the context, encontrar means ‘to find’, ‘to come across’, ‘to run into’ or ‘to discover’.

Encontré diez dólares en mi bolsillo.
I found ten dollars in my pocket.

¿Qué crees? Me encontré a Dylan en el banco.
Guess what? I ran into Dylan at the bank. 

Equivocarse – To be wrong

The reflexive verb equivocarse is used to talk about making mistakes and can be translated as ‘to be wrong’, ‘to mistake’ or ‘to get [something] wrong’.

Perdón, me equivoqué de número.
Sorry, I got the wrong number.

Me da miedo equivocarme.
I’m scared to be wrong.

Estar – To be

Without doubt, estar is the most important and essential -AR verb that you’ll ever learn. Although it has numerous applications, it is mainly used to indicate emotional, mental and physical states, or where something or someone is located. It’s also used as an auxiliary verb to build Spanish progressive tenses. Estar is one of the direct translations of ‘to be’. 

Estoy en la escuela, llego en veinte minutos.
I’m at school. I’ll be there in twenty minutes.

¿Estás cansada? Ayer casi no dormiste.
Are you tired? You hardly slept yesterday.

Explicar – To explain

Explicar is the Spanish equivalent of ‘to explain’. Therefore, we use this verb to express that someone is trying to make a topic clearer or easier so another person can understand it. 

Explícame cómo resolver esta ecuación, por favor.
Explain to me how to solve this equation, please.

Le expliqué con detalle y aun así no entendió
I explained in detail and he still didn’t understand.

Jugar – To play/To take your chances

The Spanish verb jugar is related to fun and entertainment. Overall, its main translation is ‘to play’ and we use it to talk about recreational activities and games. In informal Spanish, the reflexive form jugársela is used to express that a person is taking a risk to get some sort of benefit. With this meaning, ‘jugar’ is close in meaning to ‘to take your chances’, ‘to put everything on the line’ or ‘to take a risk’. 

Hay que jugar dominó.
Let’s play dominoes.

No sé si jugármela y faltar al trabajo.
I don’t know whether to take my chances and copy homework.

Take Note: Even though ‘jugar’ is the direct translation of ‘to play’, we never use this verb to refer to playing instruments. In that case, we use tocar

Llegar – To arrive/To receive

Llegar is another -AR verb with multiple meanings. It’s used to talk about arriving at a certain place, to express that someone received something and to talk about reaching a goal or a threshold. As a result, llegar can be translated as ‘to arrive’, ‘to reach’, ‘to get to’,  ‘to become’ and ‘to receive’.

Mi paquete ya llegó.
My package has already arrived.

Me llegaron siete mensajes de Miguel.
I received seven messages from Miguel.

Pensar – To think/To believe

When talking about forming ideas, we use the verb pensar, which means ‘to think’. Since those ideas can include beliefs, opinions, and assumptions, pensar can also be translated as ‘to believe’ in certain cases. 

Pensé que estabas dormida.
I thought you were asleep.

Pensamos que esto puede mejorar el proyecto. 
We believe that this can improve the project. 

Probar – To prove/To try

In Spanish, probar means ‘to try’ or ‘to try on’ when testing a product or trying something new. You can also use this verb specifically with food. In this case, it means ‘to taste’ and you’ll apply it when expressing that you’re trying a new dish. In formal situations, probar describes the action of proving something through the use of evidence. 

Si en verdad no fuiste tú, pruébalo.
If it really wasn’t you, prove it.

Prueba el helado de fresa, está muy bueno.
Try the strawberry ice cream. It’s delicious. 

Recordar – To remember

The verb recordar describes the process of bringing a past experience or thought to mind. It can be translated as ‘to remember’, ‘to recall’ or ‘to remind’.

Me recuerdas a mi hermana.
You remind me of my sister.

¿Recuerdas nuestro último viaje a Italia?
Do you remember our last trip to Italy?

Sacar – To take out

Many people learning Spanish know that the verb sacar indicates that someone is taking something out. But if you want to sound more fluent, you can also use it to talk about new releases (such as movies or tv shows) and to refer to the grades or prizes a person obtained. Based on this, sacar can be translated as ‘to take out’, ‘to release’ or ‘to get’. 

¿Sacaste la basura?
Did you take the trash out?

Este semestre saqué muy malas calificaciones. 
This semester I got very poor grades. 

Sentar – To sit/To set

In Spanish, sentar and its reflexive form sentarse mean ‘to sit’. But in addition to this meaning, you can also apply it in formal contexts when talking about setting the foundation of something. So, depending on what you want to express, ‘sentar’ means ‘to sit’, ‘to set’ or ‘to establish’. 

Ya me cansé, quiero sentarme.
I’m tired, I want to sit down.

Con este caso, sentaremos un buen precedente.
We will set a good precedent with this case. 

Secar – To dry

As the direct translation of ‘to dry’, secar and its reflexive form secarse describe the action of removing moisture or humidity from things.

Mis plantas se secaron.
My plants withered.

Mi cabello tarda mucho en secarse.
My hair takes a long time to dry.

Tocar – To touch/To play

As a verb for the senses, tocar is mainly translated as ‘to touch’. However, it can also mean ‘to play’ when indicating that a person is playing music or an instrument.

¿Sabes tocar la guitarra?
Do you know how to play the guitar?

No toques nada, lo puedes romper.
Don’t touch anything, you might break it.

Take Note: You can also use tocar when playing games. In this case, ‘tocar’ allows you to express whose turn it is.  

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