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):
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...Play Caption
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,
If we eat one of these mushrooms,
empezamos a ver aquí pitufos de colores
we start to see colorful smurfs here
Captions 47-48, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesaPlay Caption
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 - DéjalaPlay Caption
Ya después me pasé a otra banda en la que...
Later on, I changed to another band in which...
en la que volvimos a hacer covers.
in which we did covers again.
Captions 49-50, Willy - EntrevistaPlay Caption
To express intention, you can use querer (to want) and a verb in the infinitive:
Pero nosotros al decir en tu casa,
But we, in saying at your house,
nosotros queremos decir en la nuestra.
we mean at ours.
Caption 43, La Banda Chilanguense - El habla de MéxicoPlay Caption
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 MentirasPlay Caption
Pues claro, aquí estamos para ayudarte a encontrar
Well of course, we're here to help you find
lo que tú necesitas.
what you need.
Captions 11-12, Raquel y Marisa - Agente del concesionarioPlay Caption
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 + Infinitive, Haber + 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 ricosPlay Caption
That's all for today. Thank you for reading this lesson, and don't forget to send us your comments and suggestions.