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The Spanish Verb Dejar: Its Many Meanings and Uses

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 - EPK

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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 - EPK

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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.

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Dejar Meaning "To Leave"

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.

 

"To Leave" as in "Abandon" or "Give Up"

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 6

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"To Leave" as in "To Have an Effect"

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 Rumba

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"To Leave" as in "To Put" or "Place"

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 1

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"To Leave" as in "To Forget"

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.

Caption 19, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 3 - Part 5

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"To Leave" as in "Allow to Remain"

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 garbanzos

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To Leave as in "Drop Off"

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?

Caption 38, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 2 - Part 7

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"To Leave" as in "To Leave To"

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 4

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"To Leave" as in "Leave Alone" or "Let Be"

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 2

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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 12

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Dejame solo, tía. Por favor.

Leave me alone, Auntie. Please.

Caption 24, Muñeca Brava 2 Venganza - Part 5

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"To Leave" as in "To Break up With"

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 10

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"To Leave" as in "To Let Go" or "Say Goodbye"

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 Lukas

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Additional Meanings of Dejar

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!

 

Dejar Meaning "To Let," "Permit," or "Allow"

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 3

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Esperá, no me dejaste terminar.

Wait, you didn't let me finish.

Caption 37, Muñeca Brava 46 Recuperación - Part 7

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Dejar meaning "To Stop" or "Quit"

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 Pueblo

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Y tú, deja de sonreír, ¡que también es culpa tuya!

And you, quit smiling because it's your fault too!

Caption 37, Extr@: Extra en español Ep. 6: El día de la Primitiva - Part 4

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Dejar Meaning "To Lend"

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?

Caption 9, Extr@: Extra en español Ep. 7: La gemela - Part 3

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Dejar Meaning "To Drop"

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:

 

Dejémoslo ahí.

Let's leave it there.

Caption 62, Muñeca Brava 45 El secreto - Part 5

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The Reflexive Verb Dejarse

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. 

 

Dejarse Meaning "To Let Oneself Go" 

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. 

 

Dejarse Meaning "To Allow Oneself" (To Do Something)

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 4

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Mm... Déjate llevar al paraíso.

Mm... Let yourself get carried away to paradise.

Caption 40, Extr@: Extra en español Ep. 5: Ha nacido una estrella - Part 2

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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.

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Valentine's Day in Spanish: Vocabulary and Traditions

In preparation for El Día de San Valentín (Valentine's Day), let's listen to several pertinent clips from the Yabla Spanish video library... and learn some vocabulary in the process!

 

Aunque no crean, existe el amor a primera vista

Believe it or not, love at first sight does exist.

Caption 56, El reencuentro Las amigas hablan del trabajo y el amor.

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Cupido vuelve a apuntar con su flecha

Cupid aims with his arrow again

Caption 5, Tito El Bambino Llueve el amor

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Mande a pedir un ramo de doce rosas rojas

Order a bouquet of twelve red roses,

Caption 45, Programación de oficina El dictado del jefe

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Chocolate Perfección: el chocolate para enamorados.

"Chocolate Perfección": the chocolate for lovers.

Captions 43-44, Extr@: Extra en español Ep. 5: Ha nacido una estrella - Part 2

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Valentine's Day in North America 

The captions above include some common themes and traditions of Valentine's Day in North America, which is meant to  festejar el amor  (celebrate love) for romantic partners and family members, and, increasingly, to show appreciation for friends. Typical ways of doing so include  intercambiar regalos (exchanging gifts) and tarjetas de San Valentín  (valentines), mandar flores (sending flowers), most typically rosas rojas (red roses), giving cajas de chocolate en forma de corazón (heart-shaped boxes of chocolate), and planning special citas (dates), such as salir a cenar (going out to dinner). Valentine's Day in North America is celebrated on el catorce de febrero (February fourteenth).

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Valentine's Day in the Spanish-Speaking World

Valentine's Day is celebrated in a similar fashion on the same day in many Spanish speaking countries, with varying degrees of popularity. In addition to El Día de San Valentín, many countries refer to this holiday as El Día del Amor y la Amistad (Love and Friendship Day) or El Día de los Enamorados (Lovers' Day), while some use these terms interchangeably. And Guatemala has a unique name: El Día del Cariño (Affection Day).

 

Many Valentine's costumbres (traditions) in the Spanish-speaking world overlap with North American ones:

 

La floristería. ¿Sí? Es una tienda donde la gente compra flores, plantas, ¿sí? Por ejemplo, para cumpleaños, o para... en... en primavera, o para el Día de los Enamorados, por ejemplo.

The florist. Right? It's a store where people buy flowers, plants, right? For example, for birthdays, or for... in... in spring, or for Valentine's Day, for example.

Captions 3-6, Curso de español Tiendas y edificios públicos en la ciudad

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However, there are some differences. In Chile, las orquídeas (orchids) are the flowers of love rather than roses. And some countries, like the Dominican Republic, have the tradition of a game called Amigo secreto (Secret Friend) or Angelito (Little Angel) among friends or colleagues, which is similar to the idea of Secret Santa. 

 

Valentine's Day Alternatives

Some countries celebrate their Valentine's Day on a different date, while others commemorate both February 14th and additional love and friendship holidays. 

 

Colombia's El Día del Amor y la Amistad falls on the third Saturday in September, while Argentina's La Semana de la Dulzura (Sweetness Week), where amigos (friends) and amantes (lovers) exchange chocolate and other dulces (sweets), lasts from June 1st through 7th. Argentinians also recognize El Día del Amigo (Friend Day) on July 20th, whereas Mexico has its El Día Internacional de la Amistad (International Friendship Day) on August 30th. Additional romantic holidays include El Día del Estudiante, de la Juventud, de la Primavera, y del Amor (The Day of the Student, Youth, Spring, and Love) on September 21st in Bolivia and El Día de San Jorge (Saint George's Day) in Catalonia on April 23rd, where red roses are traditionally gifted to women and books to men. On El Día de San Dionisio (Saint Dionysius Day) in Valencia on October 9th, the gift of choice is the Spanish sweet mazapán (marzipan) wrapped in a pañuelo (handkerchief).

 

Valentine's Day Verbs

Now that we know about various international Valentine's-like festivities, let's learn some romantic Spanish vocabulary, starting with some verbs:

 

abrazar: to hug/embrace

acurrucar: to cuddle 

adorar: to adore/love

amar: to love

besar: to kiss 

coquetear: to flirt 

casarse: to marry/get married

enamorarse: to fall in love

encantar: to [cause] love

gustar: to [cause someone to] like 

querer: to like/love

 

Related to these words are, of course, essential Valentine's Day nouns like  el beso (the kiss) and el abrazo (the hug) and adjectives like enamorado/a (in love). Let's hear a few of these words in action:

 

Me quiero casar con ella. Estoy enamorado, ¿eh?

I want to marry her. I'm in love, huh?

Caption 59, Muñeca Brava 2 Venganza - Part 9

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¿Y no te alcanza el tiempo para coquetear con cierto chico... rubio, guapo, encantador?

And don't you have enough time to flirt with a certain guy... blond, handsome, charming?

Captions 116-117, NPS No puede ser 1 - El concurso - Part 10

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Siento que cada día te quiero más

I feel that each day I love you more

Caption 27, Alberto Barros Mano a mano

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Since the subtle differences between the different "love" verbs can seem a bit confusing for English speakers, we recommend our lessons on three different ways to express love in Spanish and Amar y Querer. And, since the way that verbs like gustar and encantar  work can feel a bit counterintuitive, we recommend this two-part lesson on Querer vs. "To Like": A Difference in Perception.

 

Terms of Endearment

Let's conclude today's lesson with some ways to refer affectionately to your romantic partner, although you might additionally hear many of them used among friends. While we will provide their literal translations below, many of them can be used similarly to the way that the terms "honey," "dear" or "sweetie" are used in English. 

 

Amor: love

Cariño: affection

Corazón: heart

Mi cielo: my sky

Mi rey/reina: my king/queen

Mi vida: my life

Querido/querida: dear

 

Let's hear a few of these in action:

 

y te mando un beso, corazón.

and I send you a kiss, sweetheart.

Caption 11, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 3 - Part 7

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Dame un beso. -¿De verdad, mi cielo?

Give me a kiss. -Really, my dear?

Caption 64, Confidencial: Asesino al Volante Capítulo 1 - Part 3

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¡Mi reina! Mi amor, cómo te extrañé. -Hola, yo también.

My queen! My love, how I missed you. -Hello, me too.

Captions 1-2, Yago 6 Mentiras - Part 2

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And remember that while gordo/a literally means "fat" or "fatty," it is also used as a term of endearment in some Latin American countries (although we definitely don't recommend employing it's English equivalent!).

 

Ay, gordo, muchísimas gracias por haber estado aquí. -A ti por invitarme.

Oh, honey, thank you very much for having been here. -To you for inviting me.

Caption 13, Club 10 Capítulo 2 - Part 4

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We hope that this lesson rife with Valentine's Day vocabulary has been useful to you, and  ¡Feliz Día de San Valentín (Happy Valentine's Day)! And don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments

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