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.
Then using despertarse (reflexive):
I wake up. (I wake myself up)
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)
She looks young. (or seems young)
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)
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.