Cumplir in Spanish: Conjugations, Meanings & Uses


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

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

What does ‘Cumplir’ mean?

Definition – ‘Cumplir’ means ‘to comply’, ‘to fulfill’, or ‘to reach’. It is used to express that something or someone meets certain requirements or that a person accomplished a goal. In addition to this, ‘cumplir’ is also used to refer to deadlines or anniversaries. 

Depending on the context and situation, ‘cumplir’ can have multiple meanings in Spanish:

  1. When talking about fulfilling something or meeting certain standards, ‘cumplir’ is translated as ‘to fulfill’, ‘to meet’ or ‘to comply’
  2. When talking about reaching a certain age or referring to someone’s anniversaries, ‘cumplir’ means ‘to turn’, ‘to be’, ‘to reach’ or ‘to celebrate’.
  3. If expressing that someone needs to perform an activity on or by a deadline , ‘cumplir’ is close in meaning to ‘to end’, ‘to be over’, ‘to keep to’ or ‘to expire’.

‘Cumplir’ Conjugations 

‘Cumplir’ is a regular verb. So to conjugate it, remove its -IR ending and add the endings for each tense to the stem ‘cumpl’. Don’t forget that to conjugate to the future and conditional tense, you’ll use ‘cumplir’ in its infinitive form.  

Indicative

Present tense conjugation

PersonConjugationTranslation
YoCumploI comply
CumplesYou comply
Él / Ella / UstedCumpleHe/She complies
NosotrosCumplimosWe comply
VosotrosCumplísYou comply
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasCumplenThey/You comply

Preterite tense conjugation

PersonConjugationTranslation
YoCumplíI complied
CumplisteYou complied
Él / Ella / UstedCumplHe/She complied
NosotrosCumplimosWe complied
VosotrosCumplisteisYou complied
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasCumplieronThey/You complied

Imperfect tense conjugation

PersonConjugationTranslation
YoCumplíaI complied
CumplíasYou complied
Él / Ella / UstedCumplíaHe/She complied
NosotrosCumplíamosWe complied
VosotrosCumplíaisYou complied
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasCumplíanThey/You complied

Future tense conjugation

PersonConjugationTranslation
YoCumpliréI will comply
CumplirásYou will comply
Él / Ella / UstedCumpliráHe/She will comply
NosotrosCumpliremosWe will comply
VosotrosCumpliréisYou will comply
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasCumpliránThey/You will comply

Conditional tense conjugation

PersonConjugationTranslation
YoCumpliríaI complied
CumpliríasYou complied
Él / Ella / UstedCumpliríaHe/She complied
NosotrosCumpliríamosWe complied
VosotrosCumpliríaisYou complied
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasCumpliríanThey/You complied

Progressive Tenses

conjugation chart explaining how to conjugate cumplir to the progressive tenses in spanish

Hoy mi esposo y yo estamos cumpliendo nuestro segundo aniversario. 
Today my husband and I are celebrating our second anniversary. 

Perfect Tenses

graphic showing how to conjugate cumplir in indicative perfect tenses in spanish

Este proyecto no ha cumplido con las expectativas. 
This project hasn’t fulfilled its expectations.

Cumplir Subjunctive Conjugations

Present subjunctive conjugation

PersonConjugationTranslation
YoCumplaTo comply
CumplasTo comply
Él / Ella / UstedCumplaTo comply
NosotrosCumplamosTo comply
VosotrosCumpláisTo comply
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasCumplanThey/You comply

Imperfect subjunctive conjugations

PersonConjugationTranslation
YoCumpliera / CumplieseI complied
Cumplieras / CumpliesesYou complied
Él / Ella / UstedCumpliera / CumplieseHe/She complied
NosotrosCumpliéramos / CumpliésemosWe complied
VosotrosCumplierais / CumplieseisYou complied
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasCumplieran / CumpliesenThey/You complied

Perfect subjunctive

graphic showing how to conjugate cumplir to the spanish perfect subjunctive

Si hubieras cumplido lo que prometiste, no habrías tenido problemas. 
If you had kept your promise, you wouldn’t have had issues. 

Imperative

Imperative conjugation

PersonConjugationTranslation
CumpleComply
NosotrosCumplamosLet’s comply
VosotrosCumplidComply
UstedesCumplanComply

[‘Cumplir’ imperative] + [complement]

¡Cumple tus promesas!
Keep your promise!

Chicas, cumplan con los requisitos y no tendrán problemas. 
Girls, meet the requirements and you won’t have issues. 

How to Use ‘Cumplir’ in Spanish with Examples

‘Cumplir’ can be used in to main ways in Spanish as follows: 

  1. To talk about fulfilling or complying with something
  2. To talk about aging and anniversaries
  3. Describing that something is reaching a deadline

Below are explanations of when you can use this verb. Additionally, I’ve included some examples and phrase structures that will give you a better understanding of how to apply ‘cumplir’ in Spanish

To talk about fulfilling or complying with something

‘Cumplir’ is a verb that we use when we express that someone fulfilled or followed certain requirements. Additionally, it can also be used to talk about the goals that a person achieved. In this case, ‘cumplir’ can be translated as ‘to achieve’, ‘to meet’, ‘to comply with’, ‘to follow’ or ‘to fulfill’. 

[‘Cumplir’ conjugated] + [noun]

Cumplieron su objetivo y ganaron la medalla de oro.
They met their objective and won the gold medal.

Esteban cumplirá su sueño de vivir en la playa.
Esteban will achieve his dream of living at the beach.

Notice that you can also use cumplir when talking about meeting specific standards, complying or respecting certain rules. 

[‘Cumplir’ conjugated] + [con] + [complement]

Ana cumplió con lo que dijo y llegó a las 6 p.m.
Ana complied with what she said and arrived at 6 p.m.

Los participantes que no cumplan con las reglas, serán expulsados.
Participants who do not follow the rules will be expelled.

Se cumplirá con lo que dice el reglamento.
The regulations will be complied with.

To talk about aging and anniversaries

In Spanish, ‘cumplir’ is also used to talk about aging. Since in this context you can refer to someone’s birthday or the number of years that a person reaches, ‘cumplir’ can be translated as ‘to turn’ or ‘to be’.

[‘Cumplir’ conjugated] + (age) 

Hoy cumplo 25 años.
Today I’m turning 25 years old.

En dos años, cumpliré 18.
In two years, I’ll be 18. 

¿Cuántos años cumpliste?
How old did you turn?

Hace una semana, Paco cumplió 5 años. 
A week ago, Paco turned 5 years old. 

With a similar meaning, we also use ‘cumplir’ to talk about any other type of anniversaries. In this situation, ‘cumplir’ is closer in meaning to ‘to celebrate’ or ‘for’. 

[‘Cumplir’ conjugated] + [number/noun]

Mis papás cumplieron 25 años de casados. 
My parents celebrated their 25th anniversary.  

Joel y Millie cumplen dos meses de novios. 
Joel and Millie have been dating for two months.

Mañana, cumplimos nuestro primer año de casados. 
Tomorrow, we will celebrate our first year of marriage. 

Take Note: You can also use ‘cumplir’ as a way to ask someone when their birthday is in Spanish. In this case, ‘cumplir’ can be translated as ‘birthday’ or ‘have a birthday’. 

¿Cuándo cumpliste años?
When was your birthday?

Oye, ¿es cierto que cumples años mañana?
Hey, is it true that tomorrow is your birthday?

To talk about reaching a deadline

In its pronominal form, cumplirse is used to talk about a deadline that needs to be met. So, with this meaning, ‘cumplir’ means ‘to keep to’, ‘to be over’, ‘to expire’ or ‘to end’. Notice that with this meaning, you need to use the impersonal pronoun ‘se’. 

[Se] + [cumplir conjugated] + [noun]

Hoy se cumplen los tres días para entregar el proyecto. 
Today, the three days that I have to deliver the project ends

Mañana se cumple el plazo que nos dieron para pagar. 
The time we were given to pay expires tomorrow.

Debemos entregar el trabajo antes de que se cumpla la fecha límite.
We must deliver the work before the deadline is over.

Take Note: In more formal contexts, cumplirse is also used to express that someone is abiding by the rules or laws established in a certain place. So, in this situation, ‘cumplirse’ means ‘to abide by’, ‘to comply’, ‘to execute’ or ‘to keep to’. 

Lenna cumple con las reglas de seguridad de la empresa. 
Lenna complies with the company’s safety regulations.  

Cumplir Expressions & Idioms

In addition to the previous meanings, ‘cumplir’ can also be used in some idiomatic expressions. Using these idioms can help you communicate your ideas in a more precise way. 

Cumplir al pie de la letra means to follow something exactly as it is said without changing anything. It can be translated as ‘to fulfill to the very detail’.

Cumplir tu palabra means ‘to keep your word’. As a result, we use this phrase to express that a person fulfilled something that he or she committed to do.  

Synonyms of ‘Cumplir’ in Spanish

Lograr means ‘to achieve. We can use this verb instead of ‘cumplir’ when talking about reaching a goal or achieving something.

Respetar is the direct translation of ‘to respect’ and can be used as a synonym of ‘cumplir’ when talking about following rules or respecting the law.

Obedecer can be used instead of ‘cumplir’ when talking about complying with laws or rules established in a certain place. It is the direct translation of ‘to obey’.

Expirar is used when talking about deadlines or reaching a certain period of time. ‘Expirar’ is the direct translation of ‘to expire’.

Related Resources:
How to Ask & Answer When Your Birthday is in Spanish

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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