Loving Someone Vs. Loving Something

In English when we say we love something or someone we use the word “love” for both examples. Spanish uses completely different words when talking about loving something versus loving someone. Encantar is used for loving something. Amar and querer are used for loving someone. The context of using amar and querer are similar and often used interchangeably. Encantar is used completely differently and can’t be interchanged with either amar or querer.

Since amar and querer are very similar I’m just going to use querer in these examples. If you want the subtle differences between querer and amar you can check out this post.

So use “encantar” for loving something:

I love soccer.
Me encanta el futbol.
meh ehn-kahn-tah ehl foot-bohl.

I love sex.
Me encanta el sexo.
meh ehn-kahn-tah ehl sehk-soh.

The literal translation of encantar is “to enchant.” The verb encantar is conjugated completely different than how we do it in English. With English if you say “I love soccer” you are the one creating the verb action. In Spanish whatever it is that you love is creating the verb action. In the examples above the literal translations would be “Soccer enchants me” and “Sex enchants me.” It sounds hokey if you’re not accustomed to it but this is the natural way to say you love soccer, sex or anything else.

Sidenote: If you want to say you like (instead of love) something you use the verb gustar. It gets conjugated the same way:

I like soccer.
Me gusta el futbol.
Meh goos-tah ehl foot-bohl.

I like sex.
Me gusta el sexo.
meh goos-tah ehl sehk-soh.

Like the first examples the things that you like are creating the verb action. The literal translations of these phrases would be “soccer pleases me” and “sex pleases me.”

When you talk about loving a person instead of something the translation is much more similar to English:

I love my boyfriend.
Quiero a mi novio.
kee-ehr-oh ah mee noh-vee-oh.

Make sure you include the a after quiero when ever you talk about loving a person. A lot of people new to Spanish have a tendency to say quiero mi novio but that’s incorrect. If you are using pronouns then no a is required:

I love him.
Lo quiero.
loh kee-ehr-oh.

I love you.
Te quiero.
teh kee-ehr-oh.

Giving A Look

A couple months ago I made a post about all the different translations in Spanish for the word “look” depending on the context. The noun version of the word “look” (ex: Did you see that look she gave me?) I felt deserved it’s own post… so here it is.

When you use the word “look” as a noun the translation is mirada. Example:

Did you see that look [he/she] gave me?
¿Viste la mirada que me dio?
¿vees-teh lah mee-rah-dah keh meh dee-oh?

Since Spanish is a gender specific language you might be wondering if the noun mirada should be masculine and end with an “o” if it’s in reference to a male. The answer’s no and that also goes for any adjective that describes or modifies mirada. So a “lustful look” whether from a guy or girl will always be mirada lasciva. Here it is in a phrase:

[He/She] gave me a lustful look.
Me dio una mirada lasciva.
meh dee-oh oo-nah mee-rah-dah lahs-see-vah.

If you want to say it more colloquially and less formal you could say:

[He/She] is really giving you the eye.
Está comiéndote con la mirada.
ehs-tAH koh-mee-EHn-doh kohn lah mee-rah-dah.

The above would literally translate to something like “she’s eating you with the look.”

In phrases where we use the word “look” as a noun you could substitute it for the verb in Spanish:

He gave me a dirty look. (not lustful but instead disapproval)
Me miró mal. (Literally: He looked at me badly)
meh mee-rOH mahl.

In some instances where we use the noun “look” it’s more common and natural in Spanish to use the verb:

Don’t give me that look.
No me mires así. (Literally: Don’t look at me like that)
noh meh mee-rehs ah-sEE.

Not all translations for “look” have to be emotionally charged:

I tried talking to him but he just gave me a blank look.
Intenté hablar con él pero solo me dio una mirada vacía.
een-tehn-tEH ah-blahr kohn EHl peh-roh soh-loh meh dee-oh oo-nah mee-rah-dah vah-sEE-ah.

The Act Of Saying Good-Bye

The action of saying good-bye to someone can be confusing for newcomers to Spanish. To make matters worse it’s also closely related to firing someone from a job position. The verb used is despedir and it’s reflexive version despedirse. Use the reflexive version for the act of saying goodbye to someone. The non-reflexive version can also be used to say good-bye but it’s more often used for firing someone.

Here’s an example using the reflexive version- despedirse:

I wanted to say good-bye to you.
Quería despedirme de ti.
keh-rEE-ah dehs-peh-deer-meh deh tee.

A lot of newcomers to Spanish end up using the reflexive version with a ti instead of de ti but that’s incorrect. You need to use de ti like in the example above. Another way to say the English phrase above using the non-reflexive despedir this time:

Quería despedir a ti.
keh-rEE-ah dehs-peh-deer ah tee.

As you see, you can use a ti in this example because it’s not the reflexive version of the verb. Problem with this one is it can also mean “I wanted to fire you.” So it’s better to just stick with the first example, which is more common anyway. Here’s some other examples using despedirse:

Do you want to say good-bye to María?
¿Quieres despedirte de María?
¿keh-ree-ehs dehs-peh-deer-teh deh mah-rEE-ah?

She always leaves without saying good-bye.
Siempre se va sin despedirse.
see-ehm-preh seh vah seen dehs-peh-deer-seh.

If someone leaves without saying good-bye another saying used in Spanish is despedirse a la francesa. This translates to something like “saying good-bye the French way”:

She left without saying good-bye.
Se despidió a la francesa.
seh dehs-pee-dee-OH ah lah frahn-seh-sah.

More examples of despedirse:

She said good-bye to me.
Ella se despidió de mi.
eh-yah seh dehs-pee-dee-OH deh mee.

How come you didn’t say good-bye to me when you left?
¿Por qué no te despediste cuando te fuiste?
¿pohr kEH noh teh dehs-peh-dees-teh kwahn-doh teh fwees-teh?

Despedir can also mean “to see somebody off” like at an airport or bus station:

We went to the airport to see them off.
Fuimos a despedirlos al aeropuerto.
fwee-mohs ah dehs-peh-deer-lohs ahl ah-eh-roh-pwehr-toh.

The translation for “good-bye kiss” is also based on despedir:

good-bye kiss
beso de despedida
beh-soh deh dehs-peh-dee-dah.

Parecer Vs Parecerse, Part 2 Parecerse

In my last post I talked about the difference between parecer and parecerse and used some examples of how paracer means “to seem” (ex: you seem angry) or “to look” (ex: you look jealous). If your not familiar with parecer read my previous post.

For parecerse (the reflexive version of parecer) you want to use it when comparing someone to another specific person. So instead of “to seem” it means “to resemble,” “to be similar” or “to be alike.” It’s commonly used for comparing peoples appearance. So if you are talking to someone and they are with a friend you could say:

You look like your friend.
Te pareces a tu amigo/a.
teh pah-reh-sehs ah too ah-mee-goh/ah.

Or you can flip it around:

Your friend looks like you.
Tu amigo/a se parece a ti.
too ah-mee-goh/ah seh pah-reh-seh ah tee.

You could respond with:

I don’t look like [him/her].
No me parezco a [él/ella].
noh me pah-rehs-koh ah [EHl/eh-yah].

A different example:

Last night I saw someone that looks like you.
Anoche vi a alguien que se parece a ti.
ah-noh-cheh vee ah ahl-gee-ehn keh seh pah-reh-seh ah tee.

Notice the a in the sentence after te pareces and se parece and me parezco. You use the a to connect the two people that are being compared to each other. You always have to include that when using parecerse if you are comparing a specific person in the beginning of the phrase to another specific person at the end of the phrase. 

Here’s another way to use parecerse:

You two look alike.
Ustedes se parecen.
oo-steh-dehs seh pah-reh-sehn.

You two don’t look at all alike.
Ustedes no se parecen en nada.
oo-steh-dehs noh seh pah-reh-sehn ehn nah-dah.

No a required here because you’re not saying “You look like him” or “You look like her” – you aren’t comparing a person in the beginning with a person at the end.

You can even use parecerse to ask what someone looks like:

What does [he/she] look like?
¿A qué se parece? (literally: What does he/she resemble?)
¿ah kEH seh pah-reh-seh?

So what about a phrase like “You look Latino”? Since you’re not comparing them to any specific Latino you would use parecer:

You look Latino. (or seem Latino)
Paraces latino.
pah-reh-sehs lah-tee-noh.

But if you point out a specific person, then use parecerse:

You look like Shakira.
Te pareces a Shakira.

Parecerse can also be used for comparing things besides people:

Spanish and Italian are a lot alike.
El español y el italiano se parecen bastante.
ehl ehs-pahn-yohl ee ehl ee-tah-lee-ahn-oh seh pah-reh-sehn bahs-tahn-teh.

When it comes down to talking about people use parecer for general descriptions (ex: “you look young” or “you seem drunk”) but use parecerse when talking about the similarity between two specific people (ex: “you look like María”).


Parecer Vs Parecerse, Part 1 Parecer

Last week here and here I went over the distinct words Spanish uses for the word “look” depending on the context. There’s another common translation for “look” that I didn’t include because it warranted it’s own blog post. That’s parecer and parecerse.

If you’ve been studying Spanish you probably know the word for “to seem” is parecer. There’s also a reflexive version- parecerse. If you’re not up to speed on Spanish reflexive verbs here’s a brief primer.

With most reflexive verbs in Spanish the definition or meaning of the verb isn’t any different than the non-reflexive version of the verb. Usually the only difference with reflexive verbs is the subject creating the action is also on the receiving end of the action.

An example using despertar which means “to wake up” (non-reflexive):

I wake her up.
La despierto.
lah dehs-pee-ehr-toh.

Then using despertarse (reflexive):

I wake up. (I wake myself up)
Me despierto.
meh dehs-pee-ehr-toh.

In the case of parecer and parecerse, even though these two appear so close to one another they aren’t interchangeable and actually have different meanings. You’ll want to get these two words handled because they are used so often when meeting people, socializing or dating. It’s very common to hear people using these wrong.

Parecer is “to look” or “to seem.” Parecerse is “to resemble,” “to be similar” or “to be alike.” Parecerse is often used when talking about the similarity in appearance between two specific people.

The definitions of the two words aren’t radically different so it’s easy to use them in the wrong context. In spite of the booby traps it can be clearly defined when to use each one.

Take parecer first:

You seem jealous. (or look jealous)
Pareces celoso/a.
pah-reh-sehs seh-loh-soh/ah.

She looks young. (or seems young)
Parece joven.
pah-reh-seh hoh-vehn.

You look like a dancer.  (or seem like a dancer)
Pareces un bailarín. (male) Pareces una bailarina. (female)
pah-reh-sehs oon bigh-lah-rEEn. (male) pah-reh-sehs oo-nah bigh-lah-ree-nah. (female)

He doesn’t look so handsome. (or seem so handsome)
No parece tan guapo.
no pah-reh-seh tahn gwah-poh.

You seem horny.  (or look horny)
Pareces caliente.
pah-reh-sehs kah-lee-ehn-teh.

Pretty easy…

You can also put me, le or les before parecer in the above examples to alter the phrase somewhat:

You seem jealous to me.
Me pareces celoso/a.
meh pah-reh-sehs seh-loh-soh/ah.

You seem jealous to [him/her].
Le pareces celoso/a.
leh pah-reh-sehs seh-loh-soh/ah.

You seem jealous to them.
Les pareces celoso/a.
lehs pah-reh-sehs seh-loh-soh/ah.

In my next post I’ll go over parecerse and how to know when to use either parecer or parecerse.