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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

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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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Gustar vs. "To Like": A Difference in Perception - Part 2

In the first part of this lesson, we focused on the difference in perception in English versus Spanish when it comes to expressing the concept of "liking." Although in English, the subject of a sentence (the person, place, thing, or idea who performs the action of the sentence's verb) is perceived to "perform the action" of "liking" onto the object of the sentence (the receiver of the action, or "what is being liked"), in Spanish, the opposite is true. Let's review this concept with a simple example:

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Me gustan mucho las ciudades.

I really like cities.

Caption 58, Carlos y Cyndy - Uso del Voseo en Argentina

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In English, "I" is the subject and "cities" is the object because "I" am the person who performs the action of liking upon "cities." In Spanish, on the other hand, las ciudades (the cities) are the subject that are thought to "cause" the implied object "yo" (I) to like them. As this functions similarly to the English verb "to please," it is useful to keep in mind the alternative translation "Cities really please me" when thinking about this and other sentences with gustar. 

 

Armed with this information, let's explore how to create and understand Spanish sentences with this verb. First off, how do we express in Spanish the English concept of who or what is "doing the liking"? In other words, how would one say, "I like" or "you like" or "they like," etc.? In order to do this, Spanish employs the following indirect object pronouns with the verb gustar as follows:

 

        -(A mí) me gusta/n: I like.

        -(A ti) te gusta/n: You like.

        -(A él/ella/usted) le gusta/n: He/She/You like(s).

        -(A nosotros/as) nos gusta/n: We like.

        -(A vosotros/as) os gusta/n: You (all) like.

        -(A ellos/ellas/ustedes) les gusta/n: They like/You (all) like.

 

Let's take a look at some examples:

 

Y aquí tengo una blusa que me gusta.

And I have here a blouse that I like.

Caption 6, Ana Carolina - Salir de compras

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Muy bien, ¿te gusta esa música?

Great, do you like that music?

Caption 63, Carlos y Cyndy - Comentario sobre Muñeca Brava

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A nosotras nos gustan los colores del arcoíris.

We like the colors of the rainbow.

Caption 10, Español para principiantes - Los colores

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Note that, while in the third example, A nosotras was included before nos gustan, this is completely optional, and we could have written simply, Nos gustan los colores del arcoíris (We like the colors of the rainbow) to mean exactly the same thing. In fact, all such "a phrases" (a , a ti, a vosotros, etc.) indicated in parentheses above serve to add emphasis but do not change the meaning of sentences with gustar.

 

Now that we have learned how to indicate or know who or what is "doing the liking," let's focus on how to conjugate the verb gustar, which we will do in accordance with "what is being liked." Let's revisit the previous examples, as well as their alternative translations, to better understand this: 

 

Y aquí tengo una blusa que me gusta. 

And I have here a blouse that I like.

ALTERNATIVE TRANSLATION: And I have here a blouse that pleases me

 

Muy bien, ¿te gusta esa música

Great, do you like that music?

ALTERNATIVE TRANSLATION: Great, and does that music please you? 

 

A nosotras nos gustan los colores del arcoíris

We like the colors of the rainbow.

ALTERNATIVE TRANSLATION: The colors of the rainbow please us. 

 

Notice that, since "what is being liked" is the subject that performs the action in Spanish, in the aforementioned examples, we see gustar conjugated in the third person singular (gusta) in the cases where the subject is singular (esa músical"that music" and una blusa/"a blouse") and third person plural (gustan) in the cases where the subject is plural (los colores del arcoíris/"the colors of the rainbow"). Similarly, the verb "to please" is conjugated in accordance with said subjects in English. 

 

What if, on the other hand, "what's liked" comes in the form of a verb's infinitive? In that case, the third person singular form of gustar should be utilized:

 

Y... aparte de... de la música, me gusta patinar.

And... apart from... from music, I like to skate.

Caption 14, Zoraida - Lo que gusta hacer

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While in all of the aforementioned examples, the verb gustar has been conjugated in either third person singular or plural, there are cases in which the subject calls for a diffrent conjugation. Let's take a look:

 

Me gustas.

I like you.

Porque sí.

Just because.

-Tú también me gustas mucho.

-I like you a lot too.

Captions 44-46, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa - Capítulo 4

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ALTERNATIVE TRANSLATION: You please me. Just because. -You please me too. 

 

Since the subject "being liked" is tú (you), gustar is conjugated in the second person singular: gustas, and the alternative translation "You please me" can again help us to grasp this construction. Let's examine a couple of additional examples:

 

A este chico le gusto mucho.

That guy likes me a lot.

ALTERNATIVE TRANSLATION: I please that guy a lot. 

 

A ustedes les gustamos mucho. 

You guys like us a lot.

ALTERNATIVE TRANSLATION: We please you guys a lot. 

 

As always, the verb gustar is conjugated in agreement with the Spanish sentences' subjects: yo/"I" (in the first person singular gusto) and nosotros/"we" (in the first person plural gustamos). 

 

Let's conclude with one final example: 

 

Y la directora de la biblioteca me dijo

And the director of the library told me

que el texto había gustado mucho.

that [people] had liked the text a lot.

Captions 48-49, Aprendiendo con Carlos - El microrrelato

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ALTERNATIVE TRANSLATION: and the director of the library told me that the text had pleased [people] a lot. 

 

Once again, gustar has been conjugated in the third person singular as había gustado (this time in the past perfect) in agreement with what is being liked: el texto (the text). However, the absence of an indirect object pronoun to specify who or what is "doing the liking" gives us the essence that the text is generally pleasing, in other words: people liked it. 

​We hope that these lessons have helped to shed some light on how to use/understand the verb gustar, which might initially seem daunting to English speakers. That's all for today, and don't forget to leave us your comments and suggestions.

Top 10 Argentinian Slang Words You Need to Know

Unlike other Latin American countries, Spanish in Argentina was heavily influenced by Portuguese and Italian languages (from the massive immigration at the beginning of the 20th century). With that being said, let's take a look at some of the most popular Argentine slang words and terms:

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1. Guacho  (Meaning: Orphan)

It’s a term that seems to come from wakcha in Quechua, the language spoken by the indigenous people in Cuzco, Perú. In Argentina and many other countries, it’s a derogatory word used to describe someone who has lost both their parents.

 

No, no, no, no tiene padres, es guacha. -¡Padre!

No no, no, she hasn't got parents, she's a bastard. -Father!

Caption 11, Muñeca Brava - 1 Piloto - Part 1

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2. Mina (Meaning: Girl)

The term comes from the old lunfardo [criminal slang tango composers used in many of their lyrics] and contrary to what most people think it’s not a derogatory term although it’s not a word you’d use in environments of respect such as your workplace, university or at a doctor’s office.

 

¿No viste esa mina?

Did you see that chick?

Caption 35, Muñeca Brava - 1 Piloto - Part 6

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3. Dar bola (Meaning: Pay attention) 

The origin of the expression is unclear. The most widely accepted story is that comes from the 1920s in Argentina, when students playing hookey would go to the bars to play pool. Since most of them were new players, and the risk of them tearing the green felt surface of the pool table increased with every kid who arrived, the waiters were given the order “not to give them balls” which was also a way to “ignore” them. So today, used in its negative form, it means “to ignore” and used in its affirmative form it means just the opposite “to pay attention”.

 

Pero si a vos no te dio bola. ¿Qué te importa?

But she didn't even look at you. What do you care?

Caption 7, Muñeca Brava - 1 Piloto - Part 7

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4. Boludo (Meaning: Fool, idiot, dude)

Boludo is a former insult that has been misused so much that it has become something else. The origin of this word (that can be used as an adjective or noun) lies in the term bolas (balls) and yes, someone boludo is someone with big balls. It’s not clear why it has been used to describe a fool, though. However, in Argentina almost every informal sentence has the word boludo or boluda in it. It has become a way to address someone you are very, very familiar with.

 

Sí, pero a veces se cae uno a la tierra, boludo, y camina.

Yes, but sometimes one falls to the earth, idiot, and walks.

Caption 39, Muñeca Brava - 48 - Soluciones - Part 4

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5. Chirusa (Meaning: Vulgar woman)

It’s an old term that has its origins in the 1920s. It's a derogative way to call women of lower classes and/or those women whose lack of manners make them look like someone from a lower class. There’s a Tango song called “Chirusa” about a poor woman who fell in love with a rich man who was only toying with her. In Muñeca Brava, Milagros is considered a chirusa because of her status as a maid at a manor full of rich people.

 

¿Qué es chirusa?

What is chirusa?

Y, se podría considerar una mujer vulgar.

And, it could be considered a vulgar woman.

Captions 45-46, Carlos y Cyndy - Comentario sobre Muñeca Brava

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6. Bailanta (Meaning: Club/Discotheque)

The bailanta is a discotheque where they play cumbia, and other kinds of tropical music. In Argentina, people who go to the bailanta are considered of a lower class. As it happens in the episodes of Muñeca Brava, Mili goes to the bailanta because she likes the kind of popular music they play there and also the social environment of the place.

 

You can see that Ivo is disgusted by it because he comes from a wealthy family and probably goes dancing at other discotheques where they play electronic music or other kinds of tunes associated with a higher socio-cultural level.

 

Tranquilizate. Vamos a la bailanta, loco.

Calm down. Let's go the club, man.

Caption 71, Muñeca Brava - 18 - La Apuesta - Part 2

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7. Colectivo (Meaning: Bus)

The origin of the word colectivo comes from the early days of taxicabs. When, because of the economy, taxis became too expensive for a large portion of the population, they put in place a sort of carpooling service where two or more strangers would share the ride and split the cost. As more and more people began sharing the same taxi, transportation companies saw this trend as an opportunity and built larger taxicabs which they called colectivo coming from the word “collective” since they transported a group of people in them.

 

In Argentine slang, another way to refer to the colectivo is bondi. Since the colectivo is one of the least expensive ways to travel, a recently founded airline in Argentina named themselves “flybondi” and offer low-cost flights within Argentina.

 

No crea, ¿eh? En bondi, eh... en colectivo, llego al toque.

Not really, huh? By bondi [slang for "bus"], um... by bus, I get here in a jiffy.

Caption 32, Muñeca Brava - 47 Esperanzas - Part 6

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8. Che (Meaning: Hey)

Argentinians use the word che in almost every sentence. It's an interjection with no specific meaning, used to get someone's attention. It is unclear where the word comes from, although there are several theories. Some people say it comes from the Mapuches indigenous people, in whose language che means “person”.

 

Another theory suggests it comes from the sound someone makes when they want to be heard, very similar to the “pstt” but more like “chh”.  Che is used during conversations (never in formal speech) the same way you would use the word “hey!” or at the end of the sentence, as a tag, in a conversation.

 

Che boluda... ¿qué te pasa? Estás como loca hoy.

Hey silly [potentially insulting, not amongst close friends]... what's up? Today you're like crazy.

Caption 3, Cuatro Amigas - Piloto - Part 3

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9. Rajar (Meaning: To fire someone / To leave)

Rajar connotes urgency. When people use rajar at the moment of firing an employee or when they ask somebody to leave, the idea is to do it “immediately.” Let's see an example:

 

"La voy a hacer rajar". "Rajar", ¿qué significa? Significa "la voy a hacer echar". -Mmm.

"La voy a hacer rajar." "Rajar," what does it mean? It means "I'm going to get her fired." -Mmm.

Captions 72-74, Carlos y Cyndy - Comentario sobre Muñeca Brava

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10. Arrugar (Meaning: To get scared / get cold feet)

The term arrugar literally means “to wrinkle”. In the context of physical combat, when one of the fighters gets scared, insecure or for any reason doesn’t want to fight, you can easily compare their body language to the action of wrinkling. Today in Argentina the term is used for any situation, not only physical combat. It’s mostly used when somebody dares another person to do something and they agree at the beginning but change their minds at the last minute.

 

Vine porque tengo muchísimas ganas de cobrar mi apuesta. ¿Qué apuesta? ¿No me digas que arrugaste?

I came because I'm eager to collect my bet. What bet? Don't tell me you're backing out?

Captions 10-12, Verano Eterno - Fiesta Grande - Part 8

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With this last term, we have arrived to the end of this lesson about top Argentinian slang and idiomatic expressions. Now that you’re ready to walk around the streets of Buenos Aires we want to leave you with a final challenge. Do you understand the meaning of the following sentence?: 

 

¡Che, boludo, ese colectivo nos lleva a la bailanta! No arrugues ahora, que vamos a conocer muchas minas.

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We hope you enjoy this lesson and don’t forget to send us your feedback and suggestions.

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