In caption 8 of his electric press kit, Spanish artist Javier García uses the common Spanish verb dejar with the meaning "to leave":
Tú me quieres dejar, y yo no quiero sufrir
You want to leave me, and I don't want to suffer
Caption 8, Javier García - EPKPlay Caption
However, twelve captions later, we find the imperative form of the very same verb being sung to a different tune:
Deja de correr, tranquila
Stop running, take it easy
Caption 20, Javier García - EPKPlay Caption
How can the same verb mean such different things? Why, context, of course! Let's explore the many meanings and uses of the Spanish verb dejar.
One of the most common translations for the Spanish verb dejar is "to leave." However, just like the English verb "to leave," the Spanish verb dejar can describe many different types of "leaving." Let's take a look at several (ten, to be exact!) of the English meanings of the verb "to leave" and learn how to express these same ideas with dejar in Spanish.
The verb dejar in Spanish can mean "to abandon" or "give up" something. Let's take a look:
Si yo dejé mi departamento... -Ni se te ocurra.
If I left my apartment... -Don't even think about it.
Caption 14, Muñeca Brava 45 El secreto - Part 6Play Caption
Another meaning of the Spanish verb dejar is "to leave" something or someone in a particular state, for example, in the sentence La pelicula me dejó sin palabras (The movie left me speechless). Let's see another example:
Esta rumba, yo te digo, que te deja por el suelo
This rumba, I'm telling you, leaves you on the floor
Captions 1-2, Javier García - La RumbaPlay Caption
The verb dejar can additionally mean "to leave" in the sense of putting or placing something somewhere:
He dejado la bolsa enfrente a un niño.
I have left the bag in front of a little boy.
Caption 52, María Marí Su pasión por su arte - Part 1Play Caption
However, since we may not have "put" or "placed" that something in that particular place on purpose, the Spanish verb dejar is often used to say we "forgot" something:
¿Dónde dejé mi billetera? -No se preocupe.
Where did I leave my wallet? -Don't worry about it.Play Caption
In English, we can "leave something" in a particular state or location, whether permanently or temporarily, and the Spanish verb dejar expresses this same idea. You might say, Yo voy a dejar mi pelo así (I'm going to leave my hair like this) or the following, both of which could be replaced with "to allow to remain":
Deja los garbanzos en el agua hirviendo aproximadamente media hora.
Leave the chickpeas in the boiling water for approximately half an hour.
Captions 65-66, El Aula Azul Receta de garbanzosPlay Caption
Dejar in Spanish can also mean to "leave" someone or something somewhere in the sense of "dropping off" that person or thing:
¿Pero si me acabas de dejar, no?
But you just dropped me off, right?Play Caption
Yet another meaning of the verb dejar in Spanish is "to leave" as in "bequeathing" someone to someone.
tú tenías como algún tipo de auxilio, ¿un... un tipo de pensión que tus padres te dejaron?
you had like some kind of help, a... a kind of pension that your parents left you?
Captions 40-41, Tu Voz Estéreo Laura - Part 4Play Caption
On its own or within idioms, the verb dejar in Spanish can mean "to leave alone." Let's start with an example with just the verb dejar:
Déjelo, ¿o le gustaría que le hiciera lo mismo?
Leave him alone, or would you like me to do the same thing to you?
Caption 48, Los Años Maravillosos Capítulo 1 - Part 2Play Caption
A couple of idioms that also mean to "leave alone" are dejar en paz (literally "leave in peace") or the more literal dejar solo. Let's hear them in context:
¿Por qué no me dejás en paz?
Why don't you leave me alone?
Caption 58, Muñeca Brava 8 Trampas - Part 12Play Caption
Dejame solo, tía. Por favor.
Leave me alone, Auntie. Please.
Caption 24, Muñeca Brava 2 Venganza - Part 5Play Caption
The Spanish verb dejar can also mean "to leave" in the sense of "breaking up with," or "walking out on" someone. Let's take a look:
¿Qué pasa si la dejo a Andrea?
What if I leave Andrea?
Caption 104, Muñeca Brava 47 Esperanzas - Part 10Play Caption
And finally (in this section!), you might notice that on the phone, Spanish speakers often say, "Bueno, te dejo" or something similar, which corresponds to the English, "I'll let you go." You might also notice this in many videos from our Yabla Spanish library:
de momento aquí os dejo.
for now, I'll leave you here.
Caption 54, Amaya La historia de LukasPlay Caption
In addition to the plethora of nuanced ways in which the Spanish verb dejar can be used to talk about "leaving," it can also have several additional translations. Let's explore some!
If you wish to give someone permission to do something, you might use the Spanish verb dejar, which can also mean "to let," "permit" or "allow."
Siempre me dejaban hacer lo que quise.
They always allowed me to do whatever I wanted.
Caption 8, Biografía Natalia Oreiro - Part 3Play Caption
Esperá, no me dejaste terminar.
Wait, you didn't let me finish.
Caption 37, Muñeca Brava 46 Recuperación - Part 7Play Caption
Dejar can additionally describe ceasing to do something temporarily or permanently, and the formula for using it in this context is dejar + de + infinitive. This gives us the equivalent of "stopping" or "quitting" an action depicted by the gerund, or "-ing," form in English. Let's take a look.
Pues que este señor dejó de trabajar.
Well, this gentleman stopped working.
Caption 17, Málaga Lourdes y la espartería en Mijas PuebloPlay Caption
Y tú, deja de sonreír, ¡que también es culpa tuya!
And you, quit smiling because it's your fault too!Play Caption
Perhaps a lesser-known meaning of the verb dejar in Spanish is "to lend":
Lola, ¿puedes dejarme algo de ropa?
Lola, can you lend me some clothes?Play Caption
And finally, the verb dejar in Spanish can also mean "to drop" as in a topic, as in the expression "Déjalo" (Drop it). This is sort of an intersection of dejar meaning "to stop" (talking about something) and "to leave" since "Dejémoslo ahí," for example, can sometimes be translated as "Let's leave it there," as in the following caption:
Let's leave it there.
Caption 62, Muñeca Brava 45 El secreto - Part 5Play Caption
Let's conclude our lesson on the many uses of the Spanish verb dejar by mentioning its reflexive form, dejarse. The reflexive verb dejarse is used in two main ways.
This not-very-flattering use of the Spanish verb dejar is used to describe someone who neglects their health or appearance.
Juan realmente se dejó después de casarse y ha subido más de cincuenta libras.
Juan really let himself go after getting married and has gained more than fifty pounds.
The reflexive verb dejarse + infinitive is used to describe something one "allows him or herself" to experience, which could be negative or positive and is usually translated with "to be" or "to get" plus an English verb in the past participle (typically ending in -ed or -en). Let's see a couple of examples:
no se dejó influenciar por intereses personales, ni por presiones mediáticas en las que se ha visto envuelta últimamente.
she didn't allow herself to be influenced by personal interests or the media pressure she's been embroiled in lately.
Captions 7-8, Confidencial: Asesino al Volante Capítulo 3 - Part 4Play Caption
Mm... Déjate llevar al paraíso.
Mm... Let yourself get carried away to paradise.Play Caption
With all of that said, te dejamos por hoy (we'll leave you/say goodbye for today). We hope that this lesson te haya dejado (has left you) with a better understanding of the many meanings of the Spanish verb dejar, and for further explanation and examples, be sure to check out the videos Significados del verbo dejar (Meanings of the Verb Dejar)- Part 1 and Significados del verbo dejar- Part 2. And don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments.