Spanish Lessons


Acabar: More meanings after the end

Imagina acabar con el hambre y la pobreza...
Imagine putting an end to hunger and poverty

[Caption 1, Con ánimo de lucro > Short Film > 1]


The short film titled Con ánimo de lucro starts with a series of commands reminiscent of the John Lennon song "Imagine." But what's that word after Imagina (the familiar command form of imaginar)? The short answer is that acabar means "to end" or "to finish."

Se nos acabaron las galletitas.
"We´ve run out of cookies."

We could end our discussion right there, but we won't because acabar can confuse non-native speakers in a variety of contexts. It's more widely used and has more shades of meaning than its synonym terminar (also "to end"). For example, you'll commonly hear
acabar de mean "just" as in:

Acabamos de terminar.
"We just finished."

Acabo de enterarme que van a casarse.
"I´ve just learned they are getting married.

Meanwhile, acabar por can mean "finally" as in:

Acabé por decirle la verdad.
"I finally told him the truth."




¡No irás y se acabó!
You won´t go and that´s that!

In some places, especially Argentina,
acabar can mean "to have an orgasm," when used in the right context. This usage is colloquial but not considered terribly rude.


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