Have you ever gotten stuck trying to express sentences like these in Spanish…?
- “I just went to the store.”
- Or how about… you or someone else FINALLY did something that they have been putting off for a long, long time!
- How about you ended up doing something that you had not planned on doing. “We ended up going to the movies because someone gave us free tickets.”
- You need to know how to say that something is FINISHED as in; it’s OVER, destroyed, ruined, done forever! You broke up with your partner 😬.
- You need to say that something has run its course – it’s over! What no more episodes of Grey’s Anatomy!!!
- Or what about something that is “all used up” . There’s no more milk- it’s all used up!
Acabar is the verb you are looking for! Acabar can be a tricky verb – it has subtle differences depending on how you use it.
You can use it with prepositions, reflexively or all by itself and its meaning changes.
If you’ve been learning Spanish for a while, you’ve heard this verb acabar in various forms and have most likely noticed the various meanings depending on how it’s used.
Watch this Quick Tip lesson and learn 4 uses of acabar to uplevel your Spanish!
Acabar alone is synonymous with the verb “terminar”. They both mean to end, to finish, to complete.
Let’s look at the examples below:
- Ayer acabé el libro. Yesterday, I finished the book.
- La fiesta acabó a las 3 de la madrugada. The party ended at 3 in the morning.
- Mi hijo acabó la tarea. My son finished his homework.
HOWEVER…once you use it with the prepositions “de,” “por,” or “con” the significance changes. And the same is true when acabar is used in its reflexive form – acabarse
Let’s look at how it changes…
|4 Uses of ACABAR||Meanings and Examples|
|1. Acabar de + infinitivo||To have just done something in the very recent past: |
– Acabo de ver la película nueva de Top Gun Maverick.
I just saw the new movie Top Gun Maverick.
|2. Acabo por + infinitivo||When you finally do something that you’ve been waiting to do for a long time. You’ve been putting it off and you finally got to it:|
– Acabé por ordenar mi estante de libros.
I finally ordered my new book shelf.
When you end up doing something that you were not planning on doing.
– Acabamos por ir al concierto porque alguien nos regaló unos tiquetes.
We ended up going to the concert because someone gave us tickets.
|3. Acabar con + infinitivo||To put an end to something:|
– Él acabó con su novia.
He broke up with his girlfriend.
To have ruined or destroyed something:
– No pudimos surfear porque la lluvia acabó con nuestros planes.
We could not surf because the rain ruined our plans.
|4. Acabar(se) = Relexsive form||To run its course|
– La serie de “The Office” se acabó hace 10 años.
To use up / to run out of something:
– Se acabó la leche. The milk is used up.
To die in the sense of wearing out, depletion of energy:
– El perro tenía 16 años se fue acabando poco a poco durante el último mes 🥲.
The dog was 16 years old and it slowly dies during the last month of its’ life.
¡Te toca a ti! Let’s practice…
Grab a piece of paper and quiz yourself.
- Which form of acabar to you use when you want to express that something is “used up”?
- Imagine you just broke up with your boyfriend- and you want to express that it has come to an end. Which form of acabar do you use?
- To express that you have just gone on vacation. Which form of acabar do you use?
- You have finally cleaned out your drawers. Which form of acabar do you use?
Want more practice? Download the lesson notes and take the Quiz at the end of the lesson.
Answers to Exercise # 1:
- Acabar con
- Acabar de
- Acabar por