5 uses of the Spanish verb Faltar

How to say something or someone is lacking or missing in Spanish: 5 Uses of the Spanish Verb Faltar

Do you find yourself wondering how to express that something is lacking or missing in Spanish? The verb faltar might be the perfect solution for you.

Do you ever find yourself wanting to say things like…

  • something is lacking or missing?
  • or you’re going to miss an important obligation? 
  • or someone failed to complete what was expected?
  • ​or something is missing and it’s not where it should be? 
  • or you need something to improve something else?​ Like cafe CON leche 😉

The verb faltar might seem complicated at first as it has an array of meanings depending on how you use it, but once you get it down, your Spanish will sound more fluent and native like.

Watch this Spanish Quick Tips lesson to learn the 5 uses of faltar and improve your Spanish!

Faltar has three general meanings:

  • To miss
  • To lack
  • To need

Let’s look at 5 common uses of faltar to express the above meanings.

5 uses of FALTARExamples
1. To express a NEED, as in you are lacking something.¿Cuánto dinero te falta para tu viaje?
How much money are you lacking (do you need) for your trip?
– Me faltan $400 dólares.
I need, I’m lacking $400.

Nos hacen falta huevos para hacer las galletas.
We need (we are lacking) eggs to make cookies.

– We can rewrite these sentences using the verb necesitar and they have the same meaning.
– Watch the video to learn about the expression “hacer falta”
2. When something is missing and it’s not where is should be. Me falta el zapato izquierdo, ¿dónde esta?
I’m missing my left shoe, where is it?

Me faltan las baterías, las dejé en el garaje.
– I missing the batteries, I left them in the garage.
3. To miss an important obligation (as in, did not attend)Hoy tengo que faltar a la clase de español.
– Today I have to miss Spanish class.

Ayer falté a la reunión.
– Yesterday, I missed the meeting.

– In this use, the preposition “a” follows the verb.
4. Failure to fulfill a promise or complete what is expected. ¿Ya terminaste los ejercicios de matemáticas?
Have you finished the math exercises?
– No me faltan 5. No, I’m missing 5. I still have 5 to go.
5. Enhancement ➡️ When something could improve something else if it were there.Al café le falta la leche.
– The coffee is missing / lacking milk. (It needs milk)

Nos falta una lámpara en la sala de estar.
We are missing a lamp in the living room. We need a lamp in the living room.

¡Te toca a ti! Let’s practice…

Grab a piece of paper and quiz yourself by completing the exercise below. (Answers below)

Ejercicio #1:

  1. I need more coffee.
  2. Your parents need a bigger car.
  3. My computer is missing. Where is it?
  4. Tomorrow I have to miss the meeting.
  5. This ceviche is lacking cilantro. It needs more.

Want more practice? Download the lesson notes and take the Quiz.

Answers to Exercise # 1:

  1. Me falta más café.
  2. A tus papas, les hace falta un carro más grande.
  3. Me falta la computadora. ¿Dónde está?
  4. Mañana tendré que faltar a la reunión.
  5. A este ceviche le falta el culantro.

Give it a try- write an example of one of these uses of Faltar in the comments below.

5 thoughts on “How to say something or someone is lacking or missing in Spanish: 5 Uses of the Spanish Verb Faltar”

  1. This is super helpful. My patients use it to tell me that they need refills on medication. I could tell they were saying “I have plenty of X but I am lacking any more of Y.” When I’ve tried to make a sentence with falta before, they stare at me blankly, but now I think I can string one together.

    1. Oops I didn’t actually try it. Ummm would I ask them “Te faltan algunos medicamentos?” Or maybe “algunos de tus medicamentos” (My young Puerto Rican patients tend to use “tu”, not “usted”)

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How to use FALTAR

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