Confusing verbs
Language Resources

Vocabulary: Confusing verbs

Every language has its complications and one of the biggest ones in Spanish is the use of some verbs. Here are the most confusing verbs that we know. Hopefully the list along with the explanations will clarify some issues.

  • To be: Ser and Estar: "Ser" refers to existence or having a condition; while "estar" refers to existence in a place or the state of something. For example; dinner “es mala” means low quality; but “está mala” means it is expired.
  • To ask: pedir y preguntar: Pedir implies that something is given to you; but preguntar implies you only want to know the answer to something. So if we use pedir to ask for dinner, a plate of paella would be brought over; but if we use preguntar to ask about dinner, they will tell us that there is paella and we will have to wait for it.
  • To leave: salir y dejar: : Salir can mean “to leave a place” (Salí I left home last night, salgo I leave work at 5); and dejar can refer to “leaving an object or a person,” also, it is used in the sense of allowing (Dejo I let my dog out to the terrace ).
  • To have: tener y haber: Tener means “to own” and haber means “to exist” and is used as an auxiliary verb in multiple tenses. But this case is also curious because both verbs can also express obligation and desirability of a task. Tengoque estudiar” and he deestudiar mean the same thing.

Maybe it’s not the most orthodox way of explaining it, but we hope we have been helpful, or at least resolved some of your questions.

More about Spanish Vocabulary