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"To Meet," "Meeting(s)," and More in Spanish

In English, we use the verb "to meet" and the nouns "meet" and "meeting" in a plethora of nuanced ways. Let's explore the various manners in which these different types of meetings are expressed in Spanish. 

 

"To Meet" Someone (For the First Time) 

The English verb "to meet" can mean "to make acquaintance" with someone. Although the Spanish verb for "to meet" in this sense is conocer, remember that in the present and other tenses, this verb can also mean "to know" or "be familiar with":

 

Por ejemplo: Conozco a María.

For example: I know María.

Caption 11, Lecciones con Carolina Saber y conocer

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In the preterite tense, however, the meaning of the verb conocer typically changes to "meet" in the sense of having "met" someone for the first time: 

 

Conocí a mi marido, Carlos, hace unos dieciocho años.

I met my husband, Carlos, about eighteen years ago.

Caption 9, Burgos María de los Ángeles

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To find out more similarly-evolving verbs, check out this lesson on verbs that change meaning in the preterite tense

 

In other tenses, conocer can mean "to know," "to meet," or even to "have been" somewhere, and context will typically tell you which meaning is meant. But, since "meeting" is the topic at hand, let's take a look at a couple more examples where the verb conocer means just that:

 

Le gusta mucho conocer personas nuevas.

She likes very much to meet new people.

Caption 21, El Aula Azul Mis Primos

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Encantadísima de conocerte.

Very nice to meet you.

Caption 39, Yago 4 El secreto - Part 11

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For more things to say upon meeting someone for the first time, check out this lesson on introducing yourself in Spanish.

 

"To Meet" as in "Get Together" 

There are several verbs that mean "to meet" as in "get together" with someone in terms of some outing, for coffee, or even a more formal "meeting" in Spanish. Let's take a look at some of them in action:

 

Reunirse (con)

 

y ahí nos reunimos varias personas

and several of us get together there

Caption 41, Cleer Entrevista con Jacky

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Espero que esta situación pase rápido para poder reunirme con mis amigos, familiares

I hope this situation gets over soon so I can meet with my friends, relatives,

Captions 34-35, El coronavirus La cuarentena en Coro, Venezuela - Part 2

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Encontrarse (con)

 

Nos vamos a encontrar a las cuatro. -Ajá.

We're going to meet at four. -Uh-huh.

Caption 53, Yago 12 Fianza - Part 6

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Sí, me voy a encontrar con una amiga.

Yes, I'm going to meet a friend.

Caption 4, Muñeca Brava 46 Recuperación - Part 4

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To see more uses of the verb encontrar(se), be sure to look at this lesson on The Many Facets of the Verb Encontrar.

 

Quedar

 

y quedamos en la escuela por la mañana.

and we met at the school in the morning.

Caption 25, El Aula Azul Dos historias

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In Spain, where they often use the present perfect  more than in Latin America, the verb quedar is often heard in that tense to talk about "meeting" or "having made plans with" someone, as follows:

 

Hemos quedado a las ocho

We've made plans for eight o'clock/We're meeting at eight o'clock.

 

He quedado con Juan para ir al cine.

I've made plans with Juan to go to the movies. 

 

To learn more about this verb, check out this lesson on the various meanings of the verb quedar

 

Verse (con)

 

¿Usted cree que pueda verse con usted y con Amalia?

Do you think that he can meet with you and with Amalia?

Caption 43, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 1 - Part 5

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Juntarse (con)

 

A ver si nos juntamos,

Let's see if we can get together,

Caption 31, Festivaliando Mono Núñez - Part 13

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Asking Someone "To Meet"

If you want to ask a new (or old) friend, "Do you want to meet/hang out/get together"? you could use any of these verbs. Here are some examples of people asking other people to "meet" or get together: 

 

¿Nos podemos encontrar ahora?

Can we meet now?

Caption 51, Cuatro Amigas Piloto - Part 5

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Pero ¿en dónde nos podemos ver?

But where can we meet?

Caption 41, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 3 - Part 13

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You can also use the verb salir to ask someone "to go out" with you, which, like in English, might often (but not always) have a romantic connotation:

 

¿Te gustaría salir conmigo alguna vez? 

Would you like to go out with me sometime? 

 

"Meetings" in Spanish

So, how do you say "meeting" in Spanish, for example, a business or some other type of meeting? Let's take a look:

 

La junta

 

si acaso tengo alguna junta

if perhaps I have some meeting,

Caption 12, Yo estudio en el Tec de Monterrey

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La reunión

 

Yo sé pero entiéndame, tengo una reunión con mi jefe.

I know, but understand me, I have a meeting with my boss.

Caption 25, Tu Voz Estéreo Embalsamado - Part 6

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Note that when the noun la reunión means "the meeting" in Spanish, it can be thought of as a "false cognate," or word that sounds like an English word but actually means something different. However, along with el reencuentro and even el encuentro in some contexts, la reunión can also mean "reunion" as in "una reunión familiar" (a family reunion) or, alternatively, a social "meeting" or "gathering":

 

Usted me acaba de confirmar que ese tipo sí está aquí en esta reunión

You just confirmed to me that that guy really is here at this gathering,

Caption 30, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 5 - Part 10

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The noun el encuentro can additionally be used to talk about such a "gathering":

 

se crea un ambiente propicio para el encuentro familiar.

a favorable environment is created for family gatherings.

Caption 30, Coro, Venezuela La Zona Colonial

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Or, it might describe something on a larger scale, which might additionally be translated as something like a "conference":

 

vinimos a este encuentro nacional y... 

we came to this national meeting and...

Caption 25, Encuentro Volkswagen en Adícora Escarabajos en la playa - Part 2

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Chance "Meetings" (or "Encounters")

Note that you can also use el encuentro to describe an incident of "running into" someone, as in a chance "meeting" or "encounter," or even an "encounter" in terms of a "meetup" or "hookup" with a friend or more than a friend: 

 

Era Pablo Echarri, y luego de ese encuentro ya nada sería igual en la vida de ambos

It was Pablo Echarri, and after that encounter, nothing would be the same in their lives.

Captions 64-65, Biografía Natalia Oreiro - Part 6

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Bueno, yo creo que necesitaba un encuentro más personal.

Well, I think that I needed a more personal encounter.

Caption 3, Muñeca Brava 18 - La Apuesta - Part 12

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Note that the word "meeting" could be substituted for "encounter" in either one of these sentences.

 

Still More Ways "To Meet"

Although there are many more ways in which the verb and noun forms of "meet" can be used in English with different Spanish equivalents, let's conclude with a few additional examples:

 

Track Meets, etc.:

So, what if we are talking about a sports "meet"? This type of event is often referred to as una competencia (literally "a competition") or un campeonato (a championship), e.g. una competencia de atletismo (a track meet) or un campeonato de natación (a swim meet). And, although the noun el encuentro can sometimes refer to such events as well, in the context of sports, el encuentro might also be translated as "match" or "game":

 

el encuentro dura noventa minutos en total,

the game lasts for a total of ninety minutes,

Caption 17, Sergio El fútbol en España

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And, when two sports teams "meet" one another, the verb that is used is enfrentarse (literally "to face"), as in: Los dos equipos se enfrentaron (The two teams "met" or "faced off"). 

 

To Meet (As in "An Obligation"):

The verb used to talk about "meeting" or "fulfilling" a requirement or obligation is cumplir con:

 

El primer paso importante para ello es cumplir con todos los requisitos.

The first important step for it is to meet all of the requirements.

Caption 4, Raquel Abrir una cuenta bancaria

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Hence the noun for not fulfilling or "meeting" such duties, etc. is incumplimiento (nonfulfillment). 

 

To Meet (As in "Converge")

For our final example, the verbs that mean "to meet" in the sense of things "converging" or "coming together" include confluir and unirse. Let's look at an example with the latter (although the former could be substituted with the same meaning):

 

mucho movimiento, mucho tráfico porque se unen muchas calles importantes de la ciudad.

a lot of movement, a lot of traffic because many important streets of the city meet.

Captions 38-39, El Trip Madrid

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We hope that this lesson has taught you how to talk about the many forms of "meeting(s)" in Spanish. There are, of course, a lot more Spanish nouns and verbs that could be translated as "meet" or "meeting" in English in different contexts. Can you think of any more? Let us know with your suggestions and comments.

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Adv-Intermediate

The Personal a in Spanish

Whenever a person is the object of a sentence in Spanish, the word a (which can literally mean "to," "at," etc., depending upon the context) must be included prior to the person. This is called the "personal a" in English and the "a personal" in Spanish.

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What is an Object?

In both English and Spanish, the subject of a sentence is the person or thing that performs an action and the object is the person or thing that receives it. For example, in the English sentence "Edison ate cake," "Edison" is the subject and "cake" is the object. And in the sentence "Gonzalo hugged Eva," "Gonzalo" is the subject while "Eva" is the object. So, while the translation for the first example, Edison comió torta, would not require the personal a, the second one would since Eva is a person: Gonzalo abrazó a Eva​.

 

Examples of the Personal a

Now that we understand a bit how the personal works, let's see a few examples where the same verb in the same tense either has a personal or doesn't, depending upon whether the object of the sentence is a person. You will note that there is no direct translation for the personal a in the English sentences. 

 

Ver:

 

Pero yo vi sombras.

But I saw shadows.

Caption 26, Tu Voz Estéreo Feliz Navidad - Part 4

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Yo vi a Pablo Escobar,

I saw Pablo Escobar

Caption 28, Los Tiempos de Pablo Escobar Capítulo 2 - Part 8

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Entender:

 

me di cuenta que no entendía todos los conceptos

I realized that I didn't understand all the concepts

Caption 73, Guillermo el chamán La tecnología maya

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De verdad, en ese momento no entendía a las niñas.

Really, at that moment, I didn't understand girls.

Caption 53, Los Años Maravillosos Capítulo 11 - Part 6

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Conocer:

 

Conocí las islas Barú de... de Colombia

I visited the Barú Islands in... in Colombia

Caption 89, Cleer y Lida Juego de preguntas y respuestas - Part 2

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Conocí a María ayer.

I met María yesterday.

Caption 22, Lecciones con Carolina Saber y conocer

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Using the Personal a with Pronouns

When a pronoun like alguien (someone), nadie (no one/anyone), quien, alguno/a(s) (some/someobody/one),  or ninguno/a(s) (none/no one/any) replace a person or people as the direct object in a sentence, the personal is used as well:

 

No queremos alarmar a nadie.

We don't want to alarm anyone.

Caption 52, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 5 - Part 8

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Perdón, eh, ¿busca a alguien?

Excuse me, um, are you looking for someone?

Caption 1, Muñeca Brava 8 Trampas - Part 10

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Todos los años, tengo que reñir a alguno.

Every year, I have to tell someone off.

Caption 46, 75 minutos Del campo a la mesa - Part 10

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Additional Uses of the Personal a

The personal a is also used with animals or inanimate objects when the person speaking about them "personifies" them or has affection for them. One example is pets:

 

¿Federico te regaló a Zazén? 

Did Federico give you Zazen?

Caption 9, Tu Voz Estéreo Laura - Part 6

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However, if an animal is not a pet, the personal a is not used:
 

Generalmente acá se ven elefantes marinos 

Generally, here you see elephant seals

Caption 37, Perdidos en la Patagonia La Punta Cantor

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Another example could be one's country:
 

Me fascina, quiero ayudar a mi país,

I love it. I want to help my country

Caption 24, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana Manuel Orozco Sánchez - Part 1

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And someone might even have a particular affection for some other inanimate object:

 

Yo amo a mi carro. -Se nota. -Único, bello.

I love my car. -You can see that. -Unique, beautiful.

Caption 97, Encuentro Volkswagen en Adícora Escarabajos en la playa - Part 2

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This is definitely the exception to the rule, though. In most cases, the personal a would not be used with such inanimate objects:

 

Vaya a lavar el auto, por favor!

Go to wash the car, please!

Caption 31, Muñeca Brava 30 Revelaciones - Part 5

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When Not to Use the Personal a

The Verb Tener

The personal a is not generally used with the verb tener:

 

¿Tienes hijos? -No.

Do you have children? -No.

Caption 87, Adícora, Venezuela El tatuaje de Rosana

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However, there are a few exceptions to this rule. One is when one has an emotional or close relationship with someone:

 

Tengo a Alejandrita que tiene diez y James que tiene diecinueve.

I have little Alejandra who is ten and James who is nineteen.

Captions 59-60, 75 minutos Gangas para ricos - Part 20

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Another is when someone is physically holding someone:

 

Él tenía a mi hija en sus brazos

He had my daughter in his arms.

 

A third is when one "has" someone "somewhere":

 

Teníamos a los gemelos en una clase de baile

We had the twins in a dance class. 

 

The Verb Haber

The personal a is not used with the verb haber, either:

 

hay muchas personas que se oponen a que haya paz en Colombia.

there are many people who are opposed to there being peace in Colombia.

Caption 32, Los Años Maravillosos Capítulo 9 - Part 1

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había una mujer que podía ser la protagonista de mi canción.

there was a woman who could be the main character of my song.

Captions 48-49, Luis Guitarra Historia de Lucía - Part 2

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In conclusion, although the personal a in Spanish can be a bit counterintuitive for English speakers since we don't have anything like it, we hope that this lesson has helped you to understand what it is and when it is and isn't used, and... don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments,

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The Imperfect Tense in Spanish: The Past That Just Won't Quit

What is the imperfect tense in Spanish? In contrast to the Spanish preterite, or simple past tense, which typically describes completed actions in the past, the imperfect tense in Spanish depicts past actions that were carried out regularly, over a longer period of time, or were in progress at a specified point. In addition to these uses of the imperfect tense in Spanish, there are other specific contexts in which it is necessary to use this tense, many of which we hope to illuminate for you today. 

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When Do You Use Imperfect Tense in Spanish? 

Let's take a look at some situations in which it is necessary to use the Spanish imperfect tense.

 

1. To Describe Habitual Actions in the Past

 

The imperfect tense in Spanish distinguishes actions that occurred on a habitual basis in the past from isolated incidents. Let's begin to understand this by examining how this idea might be expressed in English:

 

When I was young, I used to visit my grandparents every summer.

 

When I was young, I would visit my grandparents every summer.

 

When I was young, I visited my grandparents every summer. 

 

Interestingly, all of these English sentences could be translated to Spanish using the same sentence in the imperfect tense: "Cuando yo era joven, visitaba a mis abuelos todos los veranos." This is because, despite their structural differences, they all mean the same thing: that the speaker would regularly visit his or her grandparents in the past. 

 

Armed with this idea that the imperfect tense in Spanish can encompass various English constructions, let's take a look at some additional examples of sentences with verbs in the imperfect tense:

 

Cuentan los cronistas que veían desfilar a las tropas

The chroniclers tell that they would see the troops parading,

bajando desde lo que era el Cuartel de San Telmo

coming down from what used to be the San Telmo Barracks

hasta lo que hoy es conocido como el Bulevar donostiarra, 

to what is known today as the "Bulevar donostiarra"

Captions 26-28, Días festivos - La Tamborrada de San Sebastián

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eh... -Sí. -... practicaba fútbol.

um... -Yes. -...I used to play soccer.

Caption 27, Club 10 - Capítulo 2

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In this second example, although an English speaker might say either, "Oh! I used to play soccer too!" or "Oh! I played soccer too!" to talk about something he or she did regularly at a previous juncture, the Spanish language would always employ the imperfect tense to distinguish this as a habitual action in the past. In contrast, if the speaker had just completed a game of soccer yesterday, he would instead use the preterite tense:

 

Ayer practiqué fútbol.

I played soccer yesterday. 

 

All that said, at the moment of constructing a sentence, in order to decide when to use the imperfect tense in Spanish, an English speaker must consider whether a past action took place just once or over an extended period, in which case it will be necessary to choose the imperfect tense. 

 

 

2. To Describe Incomplete or Interrupted Actions in the Past 

 

The imperfect tense in Spanish is also used to describe past actions that were incomplete or interrupted at the depicted moment. Let's take a look:

 

Vi que me acompañaba, mientras yo cantaba. -Sí.

I saw that you were accompanying me while I was singing. -Yes.

Caption 28, Yago - 1 La llegada

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Notice that imperfect verbs that describe past actions in progress are most commonly (but again, not always) expressed in English in the past progressive tense, e.g., "You were accompanying," "I was singing," etc. The same can be said of interrupted past actions, where the action in progress is conjugated in the imperfect tense in Spanish, while the interrupting action is in the preterite tense:

 

OK, o sea que vos pensás

OK, in other words, you think

que yo iba por la calle y de repente

that I was going down the street and suddenly,

conocí a una chica y la llevé a una obra en construcción

I met a girl and took her to a construction site

para seducirla.

to seduce her.

Captions 22-23, Muñeca Brava - 45 El secreto

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Me sentía perdido hasta que un día me llegó un email.

I was feeling lost until, one day, I got an email.

Caption 24, Con ánimo de lucro - Cortometraje

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Notably, although the Spanish past progressive tense can also be used to describe incomplete or interrupted actions in some cases (e.g. Yo cocinaba cuando mi marido llegó a casa and Yo estaba cocinando cuando mi marido llegó a casa both mean "I was cooking when my husband got home"), in our examples above, the imperfect tense in Spanish would be the more likely choice. 

 

3. To Describe Conditions and Characteristics

 

Since they tend to be ongoing, rather than having a definite beginning or end, the imperfect tense in Spanish is additionally used to describe physical and other characteristics of people or things in the past.

 

Tenía una barba blanca que le llegaba hasta la cintura

He had a white beard that went down to his waist

y una larga cabellera.

and long hair.

Tenía además una corona dorada y vestía un manto blanco.

He also had a golden crown and wore a white robe.

Captions 12-14, Aprendiendo con Carlos - América precolombina - El mito de Bochica

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Pero no era la... mi... la Connie, mi esposa,

But it wasn't the... my... Connie, my wife,

sino era la otra, la rubia,

but rather it was the other one, the blonde,

que era muy bonita de ojos azules. 

who was very pretty with blue eyes.

Captions 29-30, Gonzalo el Pintor - Vida

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In this second example, it is notable that, even though the third person singular form of the verb ser (to be) in its preterite form (fue) can also be translated as "was" in some cases, the imperfect tense in Spanish is the correct manner of talking about traits in the past. The imperfect is also the preferred tense for describing past states of being, as in the following example:
 

Tenía su pata rota.

His leg was broken.

Esta pata de aquí, la tenía rota.

This leg here, it was broken.

Captions 17-18, Amaya - La historia de Lukas

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This descriptive nature of the imperfect tense in Spanish makes it ideal for explaining "how things were," or "setting the scene" in literature, which is the focus of this additional Yabla lesson on the imperfect tense. 
 

4. To Talk About Age

 
Since age can also be thought of as characteristic rather than something that "occurs" in a given moment, the imperfect tense in Spanish is used to talk about it in past tense: 
 

Desde cuando tenía doce años, más o menos. 

Since I was twelve years old, more or less.

Caption 13, Encuentro Volkswagen en Adícora - Escarabajos en la playa

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4. To Talk About Dates and Time

 

Additionally, since "setting the scene" might entail recounting what day or time it "was," dates and times must be described in the Spanish imperfect tense:

 

Eran las cinco de la tarde.

It was five o'clock in the evening. 

 

ya que recuerdo que hacía un calor terrible,

as I remember that it was terribly hot,

aunque todavía era el mes de junio

despite the fact that it was still the month of June,

Captions 38-39, Fermín y los gatos - Mi gata Poeska

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5. To Talk About Feelings

 

The imperfect tense in Spanish is also utilized to speak about emotions in the past:

 

Un poquito y ajá, y estaba triste porque dejaba

A little bit, and uh-huh, and I was sad because I was leaving

mi familia y eso y ya.

my family and all that and that's it.

Caption 70, Cleer - Entrevista a Lila

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Todos en la casa estaban muy emocionados

Everyone in the house was very excited,

Caption 17, Cuentos de hadas - Cenicienta

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The Imperfect Tense in Spanish: Final Thoughts 

So... when do you use the imperfect tense in Spanish? We hope that this lesson has made it more clear that, in contrast to the Spanish preterite tense, the Spanish imperfect is reserved for past events that "kept on going" for an extended period. For more examples of imperfect tense in Spanish, we recommend Carlos' video on this topic, where he explores not only when to use imperfect tense in Spanish, but also how to conjugate its regular and some of its most common irregular forms.

 

That's all for today, and don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments

 

Verb tenses

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