The most common phrasal verbs in Spanish, oh the joy! 1


Just as the English language has its phrasal verbs that cause so many headaches to the poor learners of English, Spanish has a quite nice list of phrasal verbs too.

Phrasal verbs in Spanish = Perífrasis

But first, what is a phrasal verb? It’s a combination of two verbs, one fully conjugated, called helper verb because it doesn’t keep its usual meaning, and another verb in a non-personal form (infinitive, gerund or participe), which provides the main meaning of the phrasal verb.

Helper verb (conjugated) + Main verb (infinitive/gerund/participe)

– Yo suelo trabajar los fines de semana.
– I usually work on weekends.

Sometimes, both verbs are linked by a preposition.

Vamos a salir esta noche.
– We are going to go out tonight.

One of the most used phrasal verbs in Spanish would be “ir a + infinitivo” (‘to be going to’) used to talk about future plans and “tener que + infinitivo” (‘have to’) which express obligation and necessity, but there are others, let’s see some:

  • estar + gerundio (‘to be doing something’)

– No puedo salir ahora, estoy estudiando para el examen del martes.
– I can’t go out now, I’m studying for Tuesday’s exam.

  • seguir + infinitivo (‘to continue to do something’)

– Laura sigue trabajando para la empresa.
– Laura continues working for the entreprise.

  • llevar + participio (‘to have done something’)

Llevo escritas 200 páginas de mi tesis.
– I have written 200 pages of my thesis.

  • llevar + gerundio (‘to lead to do something’)

–  ¡Llevo haciendo dieta durante 3 semanas y aún no he perdido ni un kilo!
– 
I have been going on a diet for 3 weeks and I haven’t lost a kilo yet!

  • empezar a + infinitivo (‘to begin to do something’)

– Mi padre ha empezado a pintar mi retrato.
– My father has begun to paint my portrait.

  • ponerse a + infinitivo (‘to start to do something’)

Me tengo que poner a estudiar para el examen del martes. ¡Es pasado mañana!
– I have to start to study for Tuesday’s exam. It’s the day after tomorrow!

  • deber + infinitivo (‘to have to do something’)

Debéis leer El Quijote este verano.
– You have to read El Quixote this summer.

  • terminar de + infinitivo (‘to finish doing something’)

– No hemos terminado de limpiar los cristales todavía.
– We haven’t finished cleaning the windows yet.

  • poder + infinitivo (‘to be able to do something’)

– No puedo ver la tele y estudiar al mismo tiempo.
– I am not able to watch the T.V and study at the same time.

  • soler + infinitivo (‘to do something usually’)

– Los novios suelen bailar juntos después del banquete de boda.
– The bride and the groom usually dance together after the wedding reception.

  • tener que + infinitivo (‘to have to do something’)

Tienes que comer más frutas y verduras.
– You have to eat more fruit and vegetables.

  • acabar de + infinitivo (‘to have just done something’)

Acababa de salir de casa cuando empezó a llover.
– I had just left the house when it started to rain.


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