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Combining Verbs in Spanish - Part 1 - Infinitives

In Spanish, many useful expressions are formed by combining two verbs. This type of expression is called a perífrasis verbal (verbal periphrasis) and is formed by combining a conjugated verb with a verb in the infinitive (or a gerund or participle), sometimes with a linking word between the two. A verbal periphrasis helps us to express subtle aspects of a verb's action, for example, its beginning, ending, duration, progression, etc. Let's review some examples:

In one of our videos, Leire, the 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):

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Acabamos de llegar al hotel.

We just arrived at the hotel.

Caption 3, La Oreja de Van Gogh - Recién llegados a México tras 12 horas de avión...

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Therefore, you can use acabar de + a wide variety of verbs to express the ending of an action. Some examples (for the first person 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 the 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 start to see colorful smurfs here

Captions 47-48, 75 minutos Del campo a la mesa - Part 11

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

Si no te resulta, vuelve a empezar.

If it doesn't work for you, start over.

Caption 37, Alex Sandunga - Déjala

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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.

Captions 49-50, Willy - Entrevista - Part 3

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To express intention, you can use querer (to want) and a verb in the 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 43, La Banda Chilanguense - El habla de México - Part 3

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The verb estar (to be), the preposition para, and a verb in the infinitive can be used to express intention as well:
 

No estoy para perder todo el día, ¿me entendiste?

I'm not up for wasting the whole day, do you get it?

Captions 41-42, Yago - 6 Mentiras - Part 8

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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.

Captions 11-12, Raquel y Marisa - Agente del concesionario

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In previous lessons, we explored the use of verbs like deber (to have to, must), tener (to have), and haber (to have) to express duty, necessity, or obligation. These are additional examples of verbal periphrases that sometimes employ prepositions or pronouns such as de or que as a link and other times stand on their own. Plenty more examples of verbal periphrases can be found in the lessons Deber / Deber De + InfinitiveHaber + De + Infinitive: Something you should learn, and Imperative Constructions

 

To conclude, we'll leave you with one more example that utilizes 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

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That's all for today. Thank you for reading this lesson, and don't forget to send us your comments and suggestions

 

Combining Verbs in Spanish - Part 2

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Grammar Verbs

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