Encontrar in Spanish: Conjugations, Meanings & Uses

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

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

What does ‘Encontrar’ mean?

In Spanish, ‘encontrar’ means ‘to find’, ‘to encounter’ or ‘to come across’. As a result, in Spanish, this verb can be used to describe that two people encountered each other or that a person found an object. In other contexts, it can also be translated as ‘to run into’ or ‘to find oneself’.

  1. When talking about discoveries and findings, ‘encontrar’ means ‘to find’, ‘to come across’, ‘to spot’ or ‘to encounter’.
  2. When describing meetings, ‘encontrar’ is translated as ‘to run into’, ‘to bump into’ and ‘to meet’.
  3. If referring to a state of being, it can be translated as ‘to be’ or ‘to find oneself’.
  4. When describing the way a person perceives something, ‘encontrar’ means ‘to find’, ‘to see’ or ‘to consider’.

‘Encontrar’ Conjugations 

In Spanish, ‘encontrar’ has some irregularities in imperative and both the present indicative and subjunctive. So, depending on the subject, the stem will change from ‘encontr’ to ‘encuentr. To conjugate the rest of the tenses, you’ll use the regular stem ‘encontr’.

graphic showing encontrar changes in spanish


Present tense conjugation

To conjugate to the present tense, the stem for nosotros and vosotros will be encontr while for the rest of the subjects it will be encuentr.

YoEncuentroI find
EncuentrasYou find
Él / Ella / UstedEncuentraHe/She find
NosotrosEncontramosWe find
VosotrosEncontráisYou find
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasEncuentranThey/You find

Preterite tense conjugation

In the preterite tense, encontrar is regular. This means that the only stem that you’ll use will be encontr’.

YoEncontréI found
EncontrasteYou found
Él / Ella / UstedEncontróHe/She found
NosotrosEncontramosWe found
VosotrosEncontraisteisYou found
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasEncontraronThey/You found

Imperfect tense conjugation

YoEncontrabaI found
EncontrabasYou found
Él / Ella / UstedEncontrabaHe/She found
NosotrosEncontrábamosWe found
VosotrosEncontrabaisYou found
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasEncontrabanThey/You found

Future tense conjugation

To conjugate ‘encontrar’ to the future and conditional tenses, you just need to add the corresponding endings to the infinitive verb.

YoEncontraréI will find
EncontrarásYou will find
Él / Ella / UstedEncontraráHe/She will find
NosotrosEncontraremosWe will find
VosotrosEncontraréisYou will find
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasEncontraránThey/You will find

Conditional tense conjugation

YoEncontraríaI would find
EncontraríasYou would find
Él / Ella / UstedEncontraríaHe/She would find
NosotrosEncontraríamosWe would find
VosotrosEncontraríaisYou would find
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasEncontraríanThey/You would find

Progressive Tenses

graphic showing how to conjugate encontrar in spanish continuous tenses

Estoy encontrando muchos errores en la tarea que enviaste.
I’m finding a lot of errors in the homework you sent.

La semana pasada, estuve encontrando monedas por toda la casa.
Last week, I was finding coins all over the house.

Perfect Tenses

conjugation chart showing how to conjugate encontrar in spanish indicative perfect tenses

Los científicos aún no han encontrado la cura para el cáncer.
Scientists have not yet found a cure for cancer.

Pensé que había encontrado el vestido que perdí.
I thought I had found the dress I lost.

Encontrar Subjunctive Conjugations

Present subjunctive conjugation

To conjugate to the present subjunctive, the stem for nosotros and vosotros will be encontr while for the rest it will be encuentr.

YoEncuentreTo find
EncuentresTo find
Él / Ella / UstedEncuentreTo find
NosotrosEncontremosTo find
VosotrosEncontréisTo find
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasEncuentrenTo find

Imperfect subjunctive conjugations

YoEncontrara / EncontraseI found
Encontraras / EncontrasesYou found
Él / Ella / UstedEncontrara / EncontraseHe/She found
NosotrosEncontráramos / EncontrásemosWe found
VosotrosEncontrarais / Encontraseis You found
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasEncontraran / EncontrasenThey/You found

Perfect subjunctive

graphic showing how to conjugate encontrar to the perfect subjunctive in spanish

Es increíble que hayas encontrado a tu perrito después de tanto tiempo.
It’s amazing that you found your puppy after so long.

Si hubieras encontrado trabajo, podrías pagar tus deudas.
If you had found a job, you could pay your debts.


Imperative conjugation

Notice that the stem for the imperative form also changes depending on the subject. Additionally, remember that in its negative imperative form, and vosotros follow the present subjunctive conjugation.

NosotrosEncontremosLet’s find

[‘Encontrar’ imperative] + [complement]

Encuentra una solución.
Find a solution.

Niños, encuentren mi celular, lo necesito. 
Boys, find my phone, I need it.

How to Use ‘Encontrar’ in Spanish with Examples

In Spanish, ‘encontrar’ refers to finding something or someone. In the sections below you’ll learn how to use this verb when:

  1. Talking about finding things
  2. To describe meetings
  3. Expressing the state of something or someone
  4. Describing perceptions

Talking about finding things

When expressing that a person has found something, the main translation for ‘encontrar’ is ‘to find’, ‘to encounter’ or ‘to come across’. Here are some examples of how to use this meaning:

[‘Encontrar’ conjugated] + [complement]

Encontré dinero en mis bolsillos.
I found money in my pockets.

¿Encontraste las llaves del carro?
Did you find the car keys?

No encuentro mis lentes, tendré que comprar unos nuevos.
I can’t find my glasses, I’ll have to buy new ones.

En este artículo, encontramos la solución a nuestro problems. 
In this article, we encountered the answer to our problem. 

In this context, you can also describe that a person found an object by accident or another person that he or she might be looking for. For this meaning, you’ll need to use object pronouns and ‘encontrar’ together: 

[Object pronoun] + [‘encontrar’ conjugated] + [complement]

Mario y yo nos encontramos $100 en la calle. 
Mario and I found $100 on the street. 

Toma tu cartera, la encontré atrás de la mesa. 
Here is your wallet, I found it behind the table. 

To describe meetings

If describing a meeting with someone, usually by chance, ‘encontrar’ can be translated as ‘to bump into’, ‘to run into’, ‘to come across’ or ‘to meet’. In this case, you’ll need to use reflexive pronouns

[Reflexive pronoun] + [‘encontrar’ conjugated] + [complement]

Se encontraron en la estación de metro.
They met at the subway station.

Betty y yo nos encontramos en el parque. 
Betty and I met at the park.

If you want to mention the specific person that someone met or ran into, you’ll need to add the preposition ‘a’ after ‘encontrar’.

[Reflexive pronoun] + [‘encontrar’ conjugated] + a + [complement]

Me encontré a Sergio en el supermercado.
I ran into Sergio at the supermarket.

Camila se encontró a tu hermano en la escuela.
Camila bumped into your brother at school.

Take note: With this meaning, you can use the preposition ‘con’ to introduce the person you bump into instead of ‘a’ and the phrase will keep its meaning. 

Ayer nos encontramos con Claudia. 
Yesterday we ran into Claudia. 

Expressing the state of something or someone

If you want to describe someone’s situation, physical condition or emotional state, ‘encontrar’ means ‘to be’, ‘to find oneself’ or ‘to feel’. In this case, you’ll also need to add reflexive pronouns.

[Reflexive pronoun] + [‘encontrar’ conjugated] + en + [complement]

El paciente se encuentra en un estado crítico.
The patient is in critical condition.

Soy amiga de Melanie, ¿se encuentra en casa?
I’m Melanie’s friend, is she home?

Mamá, ¿cómo te encuentras
Mom, how are you?

If using an adjective to describe the state of the person, you can omit the preposition ‘en’.

[Reflexive pronoun] + [‘encontrar’ conjugated] + [adjective]

Me encuentro mejor.
I feel better.

¿Te encuentras bien?
Are you okay?

Describing perceptions

‘Encontrar’ can also be used to describe how someone feels or perceives something. In this case this verb can be translated as ‘to find’, ‘to see’ or ‘to consider’.

[Direct pronoun] + [‘encontrar’ conjugated] + [complement]

No lo encuentro gracioso.
I don’t find it funny.

No le encuentro sentido.
I can’t make any sense of it.

Mi amiga te encuentra atractivo.
My friend finds you attractive.

Encontrar Expressions & Idioms

Here are some expressions that will help you expand your vocabulary and improve your conversational skills:

Encontrar la forma means ‘to find a way’.

Encontrar la horma de tu zapato is used to describe that a person has found someone very similar to them. It can be used in either a positive or negative way. It is close in meaning to ‘to meet your match’.

Synonyms of ‘Encontrar’ in Spanish

Localizar is translated as ‘to locate’ or ‘to be located’. As a result, this verb can be used in formal situations to explain that a person or object was found. 

Hallar is used when talking about finding something or someone. It also means ‘to find’.

Descubrir is the direct translation of ‘to discover’. It is mostly used in contexts of science to talk about people’s findings. 

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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