Acabar in Spanish: Conjugations, Meanings & Uses


In this short guide, we will cover the following topics for the verb ‘acabar’ in Spanish:

  1. What does ‘Acabar’ mean?
  2. Acabar Conjugations
  3. How to Use ‘Acabar’ in Spanish
  4. Expressions & Idioms with ‘Acabar’
  5. Synonyms of ‘Acabar’ in Spanish

What does ‘Acabar’ mean?

Definition – ‘Acabar’ means to complete something or to make an activity or thing come to an end. It also expresses that a store has run out of a product. It is translated as ‘to finish’ or ‘to end’. 

Here are the main contexts where you can use ‘acabar’ in Spanish as well as some of the most common translations that you might use in these situations.

  1. When talking about finishing something, it is translated as ‘to finish’, ‘to end’, ‘to sell out’, ‘to run out’ or ‘to be over’. 
  2. When saying that something happened recently, it is translated as ‘just’.

‘Acabar’ Conjugations 

The verb ‘acabar’ in Spanish is a regular verb. This means that, once you’ve removed its -AR ending, the stem acab remains constant and unchanged for all conjugation tenses and moods. However, keep in mind that future and conditional tenses are formed by using the verb in infinitive form. 

Indicative

Present tense conjugation

PersonConjugationTranslation
YoacaboI finish
acabasYou finish
Él / Ella / UstedacabaHe/She finishes
NosotrosacabamosWe finish
VosotrosacabáisYou finish
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasacabanThey/You finish

Preterite tense conjugation

PersonConjugationTranslation
YoacabéI finished
acabasteYou finished
Él / Ella / UstedacabóHe/She finished
NosotrosacabamosWe finished
VosotrosacabaisYou finished
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasacabaronThey/You finished

Imperfect tense conjugation

PersonConjugationTranslation
YoacababaI finished
acababasYou finished
Él / Ella / UstedacababaHe/She finished
NosotrosacabábamosWe finished
VosotrosacababaisYou finished
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasacababanThey/You finished

Future tense conjugation

To form the future tense in Spanish, you’ll use acabar in its infinitive form and add the endings shown in the table below. 

PersonConjugationTranslation
YoacabaréI will finish
acabarásYou will finish
Él / Ella / UstedacabaráHe/She will finish
NosotrosacabaráWe will finish
VosotrosacabaráisYou will finish
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasacabaránThey/You will finish

Conditional tense conjugation

Just like the future tense, the Spanish conditional tense uses acabar as its stem and adds the endings shown in the conjugation table below. 

PersonConjugationTranslation
YoacabaríaI would finish
acabaríasYou would finish
Él / Ella / UstedacabaríaHe/She would finish
NosotrosacabaríamosWe would finish
VosotrosacabaríaisYou would finish
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasacabaríanThey/You would finish

Progressive Tenses

conjugation chart explaining how to conjugate acabar progressive tenses in spanish

Ya estamos acabando de estudiar 
We’re finishing studying 

Mis hermanos estaban acabando de cenar, cuando llegó mi papá
My brothers were finishing having dinner, when dad arrived

Perfect Tenses

conjugation chart showing how to conjugate acabar in spanish perfect tense

No he acabado de ver la película
I haven’t finished watching the movie

Acabar Subjunctive Conjugations

Present subjunctive conjugation

PersonConjugationTranslation
YoacabeTo finish
acabesTo finish
Él / Ella / UstedacabeTo finish
NosotrosacabemosTo finish
VosotrosacabasteisTo finish
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasacabenTo finish

Imperfect subjunctive conjugations

Person ConjugationTranslation
Yoacabara / acabaseI finished
acabaras / acabasesYou finished
Él / Ella / Ustedacabara / acabaseHe/She finished
Nosotrosacabáramos / acabásemosWe finished
Vosotrosacabarais / acabaseisYou finished
Ustedes / Ellos / Ellasacabaran / acabasenThey/You finished

Perfect subjunctive 

conjugation chart showing how to conjugate acabar in the perfect subjunctive tenses

Ojalá Paul ya haya acabado de pintar
I hope Paul finished painting

Si hubieras acabado temprano, habríamos tenido tiempo de ir al cine
If you had finished early, we would have time to go to the movies

Imperative

Imperative conjugation

The Spanish imperative keeps the regular stem ‘acab’. Notice that nosotros and vosotros follow the present subjunctive conjugation. Below you can see the underlined endings for each subject. 

PersonConjugationTranslation
acabaFinish
NosotrosacabemosLet’s finish
VosotrosacabadFinish
UstedesacabenFinish

Take Note: In order to give negative commands in Spanish, you need to use the conjugations for the present subjunctive. Below is the phrase structure to create the negative imperative in Spanish.  

[No] + [reflexive pronoun] + [‘acabar’ in present subjunctive]

No te acabes las galletas, Paola no las ha probado
Don’t finish the cookies, Paola hasn’t tasted them

How to Use ‘Acabar’ in Spanish with Examples

‘Acabar’ has two main uses in Spanish.

  1. When talking about finishing something, it is commonly translated as ‘to finish’, ‘to end’ or ‘to run out’.
  2. When saying that something happened recently, it is translated as ‘just’.

Below, we’ll go into more detail and depth about each of these uses and help you apply them to your daily conversations. 

To talk about finishing something

‘Acabar’ is used when something has come to an end or we ran out of something. In this context, it is translated as ‘to finish’, ‘to end’, ‘to be over’,  ‘to sell out’ and ‘to run out’.

Below there is a formula that you can follow for this meaning. Notice that, in some cases, you might need to use a reflexive pronoun

(Reflexive pronoun) + [‘acabar’ conjugated] + [complement]

(Él) Se acabó su comida y se fue a caminar
He finished his meal and went for a walk

Anna, ¡despierta! Ya se acabó la película
Anna, wake up! The movie is over

Mario y Luisa no han acabado su tarea
Mario and Luisa haven’t finished their homework

Este fin de semana acaba el curso y nos vemos el próximo año 
This weekend the course ends and we will see you next year

Nos acabamos las cebollas, tendremos que comprar más
We ran out of onions, we will have to buy more.

Take Note: Notice that, in this context, you use acabar to talk about an action or event ending. However, we use the reflexive verb ‘acabarse’ when expressing that a product or thing is over or we ran out of it. 

To say that something happened recently

A very common use of ‘acabar’ in Spanish is to express that an action occurred or happened shortly before. In other words, that something such as an event or activity just happened. In this case, ‘acabar’ is translated as ‘just’. 

Notice that to build this meaning we use the preposition ‘de’ followed by another verb in infinitive form.

[‘Acabar’ conjugated] + [preposition ‘de’] + [verb in infinitive]

Acabo de ver a tu hermano
I just saw your brother

Acaban de dar las instrucciones, ¿las escuchaste?
They just gave the instructions, did you hear them?

Elisa acaba de escuchar la canción que te gusta
Elisa just listened to the song you like

Acabar Expressions & Idioms

Below there are some common idiomatic expressions with acabar that you can incorporate into your vocabulary. 

Ser el cuento de nunca acabar: This expression is used when there is a never-ending issue, generally because there are always problems to be solved. In English we would say ‘a never-ending story’.

San se acabó / Sanseacabó: It is used to end a situation or to cut off a discussion or a reply. It can be translated as ‘to call it a day’ or ‘¡that’s it!’.

¡Se acabó!: Used when a person has had enough of a situation, this expression is translated as ‘it’s over!’ or ‘that’s enough’.

Synonyms of ‘Acabar’ in Spanish

Terminar: If we are talking about finishing something, this verb can be used instead of ‘acabar’ and is translated as ‘to terminate’.

Agotar: When talking about spending or consuming a thing or product completely, we can use this verb instead of ‘acabar’. Agotar can be translated as ‘to sell out’ or ‘to run out’. 

Finalizar: This verb in Spanish also means to finish something or that something has come to an end. It can be translated as ‘to finalize’ and it’s slightly more formal than ‘acabar’.

Completar: When referring to completing a task or activity or adding something to make something complete, this verb is used as a synonym of ‘acabar’ and is translated as ‘to complete’.

Daniela Sanchez

¡Hola! Soy Daniela Sanchez, I’ve taught Spanish in Mexico to a wide array of foreigners. From students and tourists to doctors and soldiers who’ve moved and visited here over the years. During the day I’m a freelancer and marketer, while at night I’m here writing for students of the world wide web looking to learn Spanish. I hope you find what you’re looking here during your journey into Español 🙂 Read More About Me

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