Spanish Lessons


Combining Verbs in Spanish - Part 1 - Infinitives

Combining Verbs in Spanish - Part 2

In Spanish, many useful expressions are formed by combining two verbs. These type of expression is called perífrasis verbal (verbal periphrasis) and it's form by combining a conjugated verb with an infinitive (gerunds and participles are used as well), sometimes with a nexus between the two. A verbal periphrasis helps us express subtle aspects of the action of a verb, for example, its beginning, ending, duration, progression, etc. Let's review some examples:

In one of our new videos, Leire, lead singer of the Spanish pop band La Oreja de Van Gogh, uses a periphrasis to express the ending of an action with the verb acabar (to finish), the preposition de, and the verb llegar (to arrive):

Acabamos de llegar al hotel. 
We just arrived at the hotel.
Captions 2, La Oreja de Van Gogh - Recién llegados a México tras 12 horas de avión...

Therefore, you can use acabar de + a wide variety of verbs to express the ending of an action. Some examples (for the first person of singular) are acabo de comer (I just ate), acabo de salir (I just went out), acabo de decir (I just said), etc.

Similarly, you can combine the verb empezar (to begin), the preposition a, and a verb in infinitive to express the beginning of an action:

Si nos comemos una seta de éstas, empezamos a ver aquí pitufos de colores.
If we eat one of these mushrooms, we begin to see here colored smurfs.
Caption 48, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 11

To express repetition, you can use the verb volver (to go back), the preposition a, and a verb in infinitive:

Si no te resulta, vuelve a empezar
If it doesn't work for you, start over
Caption 37, Alex Sandunga - Déjala - Part 1

Ya después me pasé a otra banda en la que... en la que volvimos a hacer covers.
Later on, I changed to another band in which... in which we did covers again.
Caption 36, Willy - Entrevista - Part 3 

To express intention, you can use querer (to want) and a verb in infinitive:

Pero nosotros al decir en tu casa, nosotros queremos decir en la nuestra.
But we, in saying at your house, we mean at ours.
Caption 39, La Banda Chilanguense - El habla de México - Part 3

Also to express intention, you can use the verb estar (to be), the preposition para, and a verb in infinitive:

No estoy para perder todo el día, ¿me entendiste? 
I'm not about to waste the whole day, do you get it?
Caption 39, Yago - 6 Mentiras - Part 8

Pues claro, aquí estamos para ayudarte a encontrar lo que tú necesitas.
Well of course, we're here to help you find what you need.
Caption 10, Raquel y Marisa - Agente del concesionario - Part 1

In previous lessons we have explored the use of verbs like deber (to have to, must),tener (to have), and haber (to have) used to express duty, necessity, or obligation. These are also verbal periphrases. Sometimes they use prepositions or pronouns like de orque as a nexus, sometimes they don't. You can find plenty of examples in the lessons Deber / Deber De + InfinitiveHaber + De + Infinitive: Something you should learn, and Imperative Constructions. And here is one more example that uses the verb tener (to have), the preposition que, and the infinitive buscar (to look for):

Tenía que buscarme la vida, ¿sabes?
I had to make a living, you know?
Caption 56, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 3

Thank you for reading this lesson!

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