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The Many Uses of the Spanish Verb Echar

The Spanish verb echar can be used in many different ways and appears in a host of different Spanish idiomatic expressions. Let's explore the many meanings and uses of the Spanish verb echar.

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Standard Meanings of the Verb Echar

While the first definition of echar in dictionaries is typically "to throw," it can refer to any literal or figurative movement from one point to another and can thus be translated in many fashions depending upon the context. Let's take a look at several of its most common meanings with examples from our Yabla Spanish library.

 

To Throw:

Although the Spanish verb echar can literally mean "to throw," "toss," or "hurl" something, it is probably more common to hear verbs like tirar, lanzar, or arrojar used with this meaning. That said, let's take a look at an example where echar means to physically throw something:

 

y le echas harina y se lo pones en el pelo y... ¡Chwak!

and you throw flour on her and you put it in her hair and... Bam!

Caption 17, Club 10 Capítulo 1 - Part 1

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To Throw Out/Away:

The Spanish verb echar can also be used in the way we use the verbs "to throw" something "out" or "away," whether literally or figuratively. Let's look at an example of each: 

 

Por lo general, tenemos cuatro contenedores: el azul, donde echamos el papel, cartón, revistas, 

Generally, we have four trash bins: the blue one, where we throw away paper, cardboard, magazines,

Captions 3-4, Rosa Reciclar

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Todo estaba tranquilo y lo echaste a la basura

Everything was calm and you threw it in the garbage

Caption 3, Sondulo Que te vaya mal

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To Add/Put in:

The verb echar in Spanish often appears in recipes and other contexts when talking about "adding" or "putting in" some ingredient, etc. Let's take a look:

 

Le voy a echar un poco de nata...

I'm going to add a bit of cream to it...

Caption 47, Cómetelo Crema de brócoli - Part 9

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Bueno, también le podemos echar diferentes clases de condimentos.

Well, we can also put in different kinds of seasoning.

Caption 24, Cocinando con Miguelito Pollo sudado - Part 2

 Play Caption

 

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To Pour:

Along these same lines, echar can also be used to mean to pour something into something else: 

 

Solo falta echarla en el molde 

We just need to pour it into the mold

Caption 38, Cleer y Lía El día de la madre

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To Kick Out/Throw Out/Expel/Fire: 

The verb echar in Spanish may also refer to getting rid of someone in the sense of throwing or kicking them out, temporarily or permanently:

 

No sé qué hace este señor todavía acá, lo eché esta misma tarde.

I don't know what this gentleman is still doing here. I threw him out this very afternoon.

Caption 33, Muñeca Brava 3 Nueva Casa - Part 4

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Se mueren por saber por qué echó a la chirusa.

They're dying to know why she fired the vulgar girl.

Caption 42, Carlos y Cyndy Comentario sobre Muñeca Brava

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To Expel/Emit/Give Off: 

And speaking of "expelling" and "fire," the verb echar in Spanish can also mean to "expel," "emit," "give off," or "spew" fire or smoke, for example: 

 

Pero eso no lo iba a entender un dragón al que solo le interesaba rugir y echar fuego por la boca.

But a dragon who was only interested in roaring and spewing fire from his mouth wasn't going to get it.

Caption 49, Los Años Maravillosos Capítulo 1 - Part 7

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To Start:

And, to conclude with our more standard uses of the Spanish verb echar, the formula echar + infinitive means "to start" [doing something]:

 

y ven la batidora, echan a correr.

and they see the blender, they start to run.

Caption 31, Cómetelo Crema de brócoli - Part 8

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This meaning might also be seen with the reflexive version of the verb, echarse.

 

Pero ya las lágrimas se echaban a correr

But the tears were starting to fall

Caption 8, Jeremías Uno y uno igual a tres

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More Meanings of the Reflexive Verb Echarse

Let's take a look at some additional uses of the reflexive verb echarse. 

 

 

To Lie Down/Get Down/Throw Oneself

The reflexive verb echarse can be used to talk about "lying down" as in Me voy a echar en la cama (I'm going to lie down in bed) or generally "throwing oneself" or "getting down":

 

Los hombres que cuando se les dicen de echarse al suelo es que no quieren ninguno.

When men are told to get down on the ground, the thing is that no one wants to.

Captions 52-53, 75 minutos Del campo a la mesa - Part 8

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To Move

The reflexive verb echarse can additionally have the connotation of moving from one place to another, as in the first example, and is therefore heard often in songs, as in the second, with various translations to tell people how they should move.

 

donde el pueblo se echa a la calle junto a miles de visitantes

where the town goes out onto the street along with thousands of visitors

Caption 57, Viajando con Fermín Frigiliana, Málaga

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Échate pa' un lado

Move aside

Caption 8, Javier García EPK - Part 2

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Idiomatic Expressions with the Spanish Verb Echar

Now, let's look at several Spanish idioms that involve the Spanish verbs echar or echarse with examples in context:

 

Echar la culpa (to blame)

 

¡Y me echó la culpa de todo!

And she blamed everything on me!

Caption 13, Guillermina y Candelario La Peluqueria del Mar - Part 1

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Echarse a reír/llorar (to burst out laughing/crying)

 

El marido se echó a reír al ver la cara de sorpresa de su esposa.

The husband burst out laughing when he saw his wife's surprised face.

Caption 32, Cleer El espejo de Matsuyama

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Después de haberse marchado todos, estaba sola en casa y se echó a llorar.

After everyone had left, she was alone in the house and burst out crying.

Captions 29-30, Cuentos de hadas Cenicienta - Part 1

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Echar la/una siesta (to take a nap/siesta)

 

Después de comer, solemos echar la siesta

After eating, we usually take a nap

Caption 20, El Aula Azul Actividades Diarias

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Echar la llave (to lock)

 

Ahora cerramos la puerta, echamos la llave

Now we close the door, we lock it,

Caption 12, Escuela BCNLIP Clase con Javi: el futuro - Part 1

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Echar de menos (to miss)

 

De España echo mucho de menos el clima,

From Spain, I really miss the weather,

Caption 39, Álvaro Arquitecto Español en Londres

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Echar la/una mano (to lend a hand)

 

para que nos eche una mano y les vamos a dar

so that he can lend us a hand and we are going to give them

Caption 50, Club de las ideas Bioparc

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Echar(le) un vistazo (to take a look)

 

De acuerdo, deje que eche un vistazo.

OK, let me take a look.

Caption 63, Negocios Empezar en un nuevo trabajo - Part 2

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Echarle ganas (to work hard)

 

Así es y pues aquí mira, trabajando, echándole ganas y...

It's so, and well, [we] are here, [you] see, working, giving it my all and...

Caption 17, Edificio en Construcción Hablando con los trabajadores - Part 2

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Echar a perder (to mess up/spoil/ruin or bankrupt)

 

No puedo, negrita, ya eché a perder como diez laburo'.

I can't, honey. I already messed up like ten jobs.

Caption 3, Muñeca Brava 3 Nueva Casa - Part 5

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Echar (más) leña al fuego (to add (more) fuel to the fire)

 

¡Callate, Rufino! No eches más leña al fuego, ¿querés?

Shut up, Rufino! Don't put more wood into the fire [don't add fuel to the fire], will you?

Caption 23, Yago 8 Descubrimiento - Part 2

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Echar las campanas al vuelo (to vehemently celebrate prematurely)

 

Todavía no ha jugado el partido de fútbol y ya está "echando las campanas al vuelo", 

He hasn't played the soccer match yet, and he's already "throwing the bells in the air,"

Captions 45-46, Aprendiendo con Silvia Campanas - Part 2

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Although the literal meaning is totally different, this Spanish expression is comparable to the English idiom about "counting one's chickens before they are hatched." For more such examples, check out this lesson on Spanish idioms and their (very different) English equivalents.

 

As there are so many standard and idiomatic ways to use the Spanish verb echar that it would be impossible to name them all, we've provided just a smattering! Don't hesitate to write to us with any more you come across, or with any ideas for future lessons. ¡Hasta la próxima!

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¡Feliz Halloween! (Happy Halloween!)

Today's lesson will highlight clips from our Yabla Spanish library to teach you some pertinent terms to talk about many people's favorite holiday... Halloween!!! So get ready, and enjoy this lesson about Halloween in Spanish!

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How do you say Halloween in Spanish?

Although Halloween is primarily thought of as a North American holiday, its fun festivities have been adopted by many countries throughout the world. When we speak about Halloween in Spanish, we typically keep its English name:

 

Esta noche es Halloween y seguro que muchas veces habéis pensado disfrazaros con vuestra mascota

Tonight is Halloween and surely you've thought many times of dressing up with your pet

Captions 137-138, Animales en familia Un día en Bioparc: Coatís

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This caption describes the common Halloween costumbre (custom) of disfrazarse (dressing up). You'll note from the previous sentence that costumbre means "custom" or "tradition" rather than "costume" as you might think, making it somewhat of a false cognate. On the other hand, the correct way to say "the costume" in Spanish is el disfraz.

 

Ay, Aurelito, ¿me prestarías un disfraz?

Oh, Aurelito, would you lend me a costume?

Caption 32, Club 10 Capítulo 1 - Part 2

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What other vocabulary words might we associate with Halloween? We might start by reviewing some Spanish vocabulary for the autumn season since Halloween falls at that time of year. We could then move on to some of Halloween's personajes más espeluznantes (spookiest characters).

 

Halloween Characters in Spanish

Let's look at some video clips that include the names of some of the most typical Halloween characters:

 

¿Quién no ha querido a una diosa licántropa

Who hasn't loved a werewolf goddess?

Caption 5, Shakira Loba

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porque sí sé... ahí está el monstruo.

because I know... here's the monster.

Caption 29, Antonio Vargas - Artista Comic

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El fantasma y la loca se quieren casar

The ghost and the madwoman want to get married

Caption 24, Gloria Trevi Psicofonía

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En la época, eran utilizadas para espantar las brujas 

In the era, they were used to scare away witches

Caption 46, Viajando en Colombia Cartagena en coche - Part 2

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And speaking of espantar (to scare away), let's look at some additional Spanish words that mean "to scare," "be scared," or "scary."
 

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"Scary" Halloween Terms

To Scare:

Let's look at another verb that means "to frighten" or "scare": 

 

o cuando hay una fecha importante, ellos salen... a divertir y a asustar a la gente porque están como unos diablos.

or when there is an important date, they go out... to amuse and to frighten people because they're [dressed] like devils.

Captions 45-46, El Trip Ibiza

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And, in addition to asustar, we learn the word for another Halloween character: un diablo (a devil). Let's see another verb that means "to scare": 

 

¡Me da miedo! -¡Ahí te tienes que quedar, ya está!

It scares me! -There you have to stay, ready!

Caption 24, 75 minutos Del campo a la mesa - Part 7

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Note that the noun el miedo means "the fear," and the verb dar miedo (literally "to give fear") can thus mean either "to scare" or "be scary." When employed in conjunction with an indirect object pronoun to indicate to whom this action is happening (le in this case, which corresponds with usted), the most common translation is "to scare," as we see in this caption. 

 

To Be Scared:

So, what if we want to say that we "are" or "feel scared"? A common verb for this is tener miedo (literally "to have fear"), as seen in this caption with the Halloween-appropriate noun la oscuridad (the dark/darkness):

 

¡Porque le tiene miedo a la oscuridad!

Because he's afraid of the dark!

Caption 24, Guillermina y Candelario El parque de diversiones - Part 2

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The reflexive form of asustar, asustarse, also means "to be" or "get scared":

 

Aparecieron unos cazadores, y el patito se asustó mucho

Some hunters appeared, and the duckling got really scared

Caption 36, Cleer El patito feo

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Yet another way to talk about being "scared" in Spanish is with adjectives like asustado (scared) or aterrorizado (terrified): 

 

Llegan muy asustados, muy aterrorizados,

They arrive very scared, very terrified,

Caption 25, Los Reporteros Caza con Galgo - Part 3

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For more on the ways in which verbs, adjectives, and nouns can be used to describe our feelings, be sure to check out our lesson on expressing emotions in Spanish

 

Scary:

Let's conclude this section with a few ways to express the concept of "scary":

 

¡Uy, qué miedo!

Oh, how scary!

Caption 21, Guillermina y Candelario La Peluqueria del Mar - Part 1

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Literally meaning "What fear!" the Spanish expression ¡Qué miedo! is a common way to say "how scary" something is. We can also use our previously-mentioned verb dar miedo (this time without the indirect object pronoun) to convey the idea of "being scary":

 

Eh... Sí. Lo desconocido siempre da miedo.

Um... Yes. The unknown is always scary.

Caption 13, Yago 13 La verdad - Part 8

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We can also say "scary" with adjectives like escalofriante, sinestro/a, or miedoso/a:

 

¿Y esa calavera tan miedosa?

And that very scary skull?

Caption 20, Guillermina y Candelario Un pez mágico - Part 2

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And with the word for "the skull" in Spanish (la calavera), we come to our last category: Halloween objects! 

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Halloween Objects 

If we know how to say "skull," we had better find out how to say "skeleton" in Spanish:

 

con una forma parecida a la del esqueleto de un dinosaurio,

with a shape similar to that of a dinosaur's skeleton,

Caption 30, Raquel Valencia - Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias

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So, where might we find such esqueletos? Why, in their tumbas (graves) in el cementerio (the cemetery) of course!

 

en Ricardo, en su tumba en el cementerio,

about Ricardo in his grave in the cemetery,

Caption 28, Los Años Maravillosos Capítulo 10 - Part 8

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So, let's set the scene in that cemetery with a "full moon" in Spanish, which might inspire some hombre lobo (another word for "werewolf") to come out:

 

la luna llena Por los cielos azulosos, infinitos y profundos esparcía su luz blanca 

And the full moon In the bluish skies, infinite and profound, scattered its white light

Captions 11-12, Acercándonos a la Literatura José Asunción Silva - "Nocturno III"

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Now, let's focus on some slightly less ominous symbols of Halloween such as el gato negro (the black cat), seen in its diminutive form in the following caption:

 

También está este gatito negro

There's also this black kitty

Caption 73, Fermín y los gatos Mis gatas vecinas

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The "pumpkin" is, perhaps, the most famed Halloween symbol of all:

 

Justo en el doblez del papel, trazamos la mitad de la calabaza.

Right on the fold of the paper, we draw half of the pumpkin.

Caption 67, Manos a la obra Papel picado para Día de muertos

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And finally, we associate Halloween with trick-or-treating, or going door to door to get "candy":

 

Y ahora cortamos pedacitos de caramelo.

And now we cut little pieces of candy.

Caption 38, Manos a la obra Postres de Minecraft

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The way to say "Trick or treat!" varies from region to region, but some popular ways are: "Dulce o truco" in Argentina, "Dulce o travesura" in Mexico, and the more literal but less accurate "Truco o trato" (from the verb "tratar," or "to treat") in Spain, where they also say "Dulce o caramelo." In Colombia, you might hear "Triqui, triqui," where kids sing the following song:

 

Triqui triqui Halloween/Quiero dulces para mí/Si no hay dulces para mí/se le crece la naríz,

which translates as:

Trick or treat, Halloween/I want treats for me/If there are no treats for me/Your nose will grow.

 

Meanwhile, Pedir dulce o truco/travesura, etc. can be used to talk about the action of  "trick-or-treating."

 

Halloween Vocabulary in Review

Let’s conclude today’s lesson with a review of the Halloween vocabulary we have learned:

 

el Halloween: Halloween

¡Feliz Halloween! Happy Halloween! 

difrazarse: to dress up 

el disfraz: the costume 

la costumbre: the custom, tradition

el personaje: the character

espeluznante: spooky

el/la licántropo/a: the werewolf

el hombre lobo: the werewolf

el monstruo: the monster

el fantasma: the ghost

el/la loco/a: the madman/madwoman

la bruja: the witch

el diablo: the devil 

espantar: to scare away

asustar: to scare 

el miedo: the fear

dar miedo: to scare/be scary

tener miedo: to be scared

asustarse: to be/get scared

asustado/a: scared/frightened

aterrorizado/a: terrified 

escalofriante: scary

siniestro/a: scary

miedoso/a: scary

¡Qué miedo! How scary!

la oscuridad: the darkness/dark

la calavera: the skull 

el esqueletothe skeleton

la tumba: the grave

el cementerio: the cemetery

la luna llena: the full moon

el gato negro: the black cat

la calabaza: the pumkin

el caramelo: the candy

¡Dulce o truco/travesura/caramelo! Trick or treat!

¡Truco o trato! Trick or treat!

¡Triqui triqui! Trick or treat!

Pedir dulce o truco/travesura: to go trick or treating 

 

We hope you've enjoyed this lesson about Halloween in Spanish, and don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments. 

 

¡Feliz Halloween! (Happy Halloween!).

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Caption 46, 45
Adv-Intermediate

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