Spanish Lessons


The Spanish Verb Decir

The verb decir (to say, to tell) is very common in Spanish. Let’s learn how to use it.
One of the most commonly used forms of this verb is digo (I say):

Pero si yo digo: Yo voy en el autobús y usted va en el coche,

But if I say: I am going in the bus and you [formal] are going on the car,

Captions 49-51, Fundamentos del Español - 6 - Tú y Usted

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The verb decir is frequently followed by the word que (that):

Yo digo que la fruta es para comerla no para hacerse una fotografía con ella.

I say that fruit is to eat it not to take a picture with it.

Caption 48, Los Reporteros - Sembrar, comer, tirar - Part 2

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Also remember that in Spanish you don't always need to use personal pronouns before verbs, since these are conjugated differently for each person:

Pues entonces rejuvenece coger castañas. -Digo que sí.

Well then, it rejuvenates to pick chestnuts. -I say so.

Captions 18-19, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 4

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Another common instance of the verb decir is dice (he/she/it says). The reason why dice is very useful is because it helps us talk about what we read or hear. For example:
Hay un letrero en la puerta que dice que ya está cerrado | There's a sign on the door sayingit's closed already.
El mensaje dice que viene una gran tormenta | The message says a big storm is coming.
Mayra dice que te tienes que ir | Mayra says you have to go.
We mentioned before that it’s very common to omit personal pronouns before verbs in Spanish. But you will find that the verb decir is frequently preceded by reflexive, direct, or indirect object pronouns (me, te, se, nos, os, le, les, la, las, lo) depending on what is being said and to whom. For example:

¿Quién nos dice que la vida nos dará el tiempo necesario?

Who says [to us] life will give us the necessary time?

Caption 11, Julieta Venegas - El Presente

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Supongamos que un amigo me dice lo siguiente:

Let's imagine that a friend tells me the following:

Caption 44, Carlos explica - Diminutivos y Aumentativos Cap 2: Definiciones generales

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It's also important to remember how pronouns are combined when using this verb. You must place reflexive or indirect object pronouns first, and then direct object pronouns right next to the verb. In the following example te replaces an indirect object (you) and lo (it) replaces a direct object:

Te lo digo de corazón.

I tell [it to] you from the heart.

Caption 25, Documental de Alejandro Fernandez - Viento A Favor

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The past tense dijo (he/she/it said) is another useful form of this verb. For example, you can use it to talk about what someone told you in the past. The expression me lo dijo (he/she/it told it to me) is worth learning:

¡Es verdad, pana, mi hermano me lo dijo!

It's true, pal, my brother told it to me!

Caption 45, NPS No puede ser - 1 - El concurso - Part 3

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No le digas (don’t tell him/her) and no me digas (don’t tell me) are  also useful:

¡No le digas, Candelario!

Don't tell him, Candelario!

Caption 14, Guillermina y Candelario - La Isla de las Serpientes

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Another fixed expression is se dice (it's said, one says), which is equivalent to dice la gente(people say):

Bueno y se dice que la mujer tiene un sexto sentido

Well, and one says that a woman has a sixth sense

Caption 16, Club de las ideas - Intuición - Part 1

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The same phrase, se dice, can also be used to talk about the correct pronunciation of a word, or its meaning in a different language. For example:
Buenos días se dice "bonjour" en Francés | "Bonjour" is good morning in French.
No se dice "soy contento", se dice "estoy contento" | You don't say "soy contento," you say "estoy contento" (I'm happy).
You can find many more examples of the verb decir in our catalog. You just need to type the form of the verb that you want to practice in the search tool to start learning real Spanish from real speakers in real situations!

Se Trata de Tratar [It's About Trying]

In one of our latest videos, Raquel tells us about a very traditional festival in Spain: The "Fallas." When she explains what these "Fallas" are, she uses an expression that is worth exploring:



Se trata de unas figuras de gran tamaño hechas de cartón y de madera.

It's about some large-sized figures made of cardboard and wood.

Captions 26-27, Raquel - Fiestas de España

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The verb tratar means "to treat," "to try" or "attempt," but also "to deal with" and, like in the previous example, "to be about." Let's review some examples to master this useful verb.

 When tratar means "to treat," is used the same way as in English:

¿Podrías tratarlo un poco mejor a tu hijo, no?

You could treat your son a little better, no?

Caption 31, Muñeca Brava - 1 Piloto

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In Spanish, however, this verb has many different applications. For example:

Necesitamos tratarnos.

We need to get to know each other.

Caption 18, El Ausente - Acto 3

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Bueno, a Felipe he tenido el privilegio de tratarlo.

Well, I have had the privilege to know Felipe.

Caption 38, Felipe Calderón - Publicidad

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Encerrarlos y maltratarlos es una cosa muy cruel.

To lock them up and abuse them is a very cruel thing.

Caption 33, Kikirikí - Animales

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Para tratar a alguien de "tú", tienes que tener una cierta cercanía...

To address someone with "tú," you have to have a certain closeness...

Captions 22-23, Fundamentos del Español - 6 - Tú y Usted

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Me gusta tratar con... con el público, con las personas que vienen.

I like dealing with... with the public, with the people who come.

Captions 22-23, El Instituto Cervantes - Jefa de biblioteca

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Just as, in English, you can't use the verb "to treat" to translate the previous examples, in Spanish you can't use the verb tratar to express an idea such as "to treat someone to something." Instead you have to use the verbs invitar or convidar (to invite, to share):

Ni siquiera te convidé un café.

I didn't even treat you to a cup of coffee.

Caption 55, Muñeca Brava - 7 El poema

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Additionally, tratar can also mean "to try or attempt":

Pero en Andalucía varias iniciativas tratan de protegerlo.

But in Andalucia several initiatives attempt to protect it.

Caption 26, Club de las ideas - Batería de breves

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But don't ever try to use the verb tratar in the same way we use "to try" in expressions such as "try the food" or "try on the jeans." For that, Spanish uses another verb: probar. So, you must say prueba el pastel ("try the cake"), and me probé los pantalones ("I tried on the jeans") but never ever: trata el pastel or me traté los pantalones.

Tratar de (to try to) looks like tratarse de (to be about) but has a different meaning and it's not reflexive. Here is another example of tratarse de, using negation:

Ya ves que el juego no se trata de vestir mejor

You see that this game is not about dressing better

Caption 24, Hector Montaner - Apariencias

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These two examples are interesting. The same expression is used in Spanish, but English requires the use of different wording:

Es posible que alguna vez haya pensado usted, al escuchar el nombre del famoso arqueólogo Federico Kauffman Doig, que se trata de un investigador extranjero.

It's possible that some time you have thought, when hearing the name of the famous archeologist Federico Kauffman Doig, that he is a foreign researcher.

Captions 9-11, Federico Kauffman Doig - Arqueólogo

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Y más aún si se trata de ti

And even more so when it's related to you

Caption 7, Gloria Trevi - Cinco minutos

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Do you want to find more examples of the verb tratar in our catalog? You can use the search tool at the top of the screen in the Videos tab of our site to do so. Maybe you can find a use of tratar that we haven't discussed here. ¡Todo se trata de tratar, verdad?! (It's all about trying, right?). If you find some, tweet us @yabla or share them with us at

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