Spanish - Versus

Spanish vs English

Verb as a noun

  • In English: use gerund. Seeing is beliveing.
  • In Spanish: use infinitive. Ver es creer.

Preterite vs Imperfect

  • preterite: used for actions that are viewed as completed (did).
  • imperfect: used for actions that did not have a definite beginning or a definite end (used to).

Use them together: use the imperfect to talk about something that was happening in the past, and the preterite to talk about an event that interrupted that ongoing action.

preterite + cuando + imperfect
imperfect + cuando + preterite

For example:

Ella me llamó cuando yo me iba.
(She called me when I was leaving.)

Empezó a nevar cuando nosotros estábamos en el hotel.
(It started snowing when we were at the hotel.)

muy vs mucho

muy is used before adjectives

Ellos se sienten muy molestos hoy.
(They feel very upset today.)

mucho is used with verbs and nouns.

Con esto tú vas a reírte mucho.
(You're going to laugh a lot at this.)

muy never changes, mucho can become mucha, muchos, or muchas depending on the noun that comes after.

Ellos compraron muchas cosas.
(They bought a lot of things.)

ir vs irse

  • ir: to go
  • irse (me, te, se, nos): to leave

For example:

Yo me voy por unos días.
(I'm leaving for a few days.)

¿Por qué te vas?
(Why are you leaving?)

Tengo que irme. / Me tengo que ir.
(I have to leave.)

Acabar de vs. recién

Both mean just.

  • acabar de: always followed by an infinitive, which usually corresponds to an -ed past verb in English. More common in Spain.
  • recién: always followed by a preterite. More common in Latin America.


Acabo de terminar mi tarea.
(I just finished my homework.)

Recién terminé mi tarea.
(I just finished my homework.)

Perder vs perderse

perder: to lose. E.g.

Él siempre perdía el reloj.
(He used to always lose the watch.)

perderse: to get lost. E.g.

Aveces me pierdo en la ciudad.
(Sometimes I get lost in the city.)

Volver vs volverse

volver: to come back. E.g.

Vuelvo a casa en Navidad.
(I come back home for Christmas.)

volverse: to become. E.g.

¿Tú quieres volverte famoso?
(Do you want to become famous?)

amar vs amarse

amar: to love.

Te amo.
(I love you.)

amarse: to love each other.

Mis abuelos se amaron mucho.
(My grandparents loved each other a lot.)

caer vs caerse

caerse: to fall down.

¡Ten cuidado, yo creo que puedes caerte!
(Becareful! I think you could fall down.)

caer followed by bien or mal: you like or dislike someone. Remember to include me, le, nos, etc, just like gustar.

Tu Prima me cae bien.
(I like your cousin.)

pero vs sino

Both mean but.

  • pero: used when the first sentence is positive.
  • sino: used when the first sentence is negative.


Ella no trabaja los martes, sino los miércoles.
(She doesn't work on Tuesdays, but on Wednesdays.)

quedarse vs mantener

quedarse: keep something.

Yo voy a quedarme con todo tu dinero.

mantener (has the same endings as tener):

  • keep your word.

    Yo siempre mantengo mi palabra.
    (I always keep my word.)
  • +adjective.

    Ellos mantienen los ojos cerrados.
    (They're keeping their eyes closed.)

ser vs estar


  • ser seguro = to be safe
  • ser listo = to be smart
  • ser verde = to be green


  • estar seguro = to be sure
  • estar listo = to be ready
  • estar verde = to be unripe


El gato es negro.
El gato está contento.
El gato está en la mesa.

ese vs esa vs eso / este vs esta vs esto

Ese is masculine, esa is feminine, eso is neutral, and they all mean "that".

Este is masculine, esta is feminine, esto is neutral, and they all mean "this".

You say "¿Qué es esto?" because when you don't know what something is, you don't know if it's masculine or feminine, thus having to use the neutral in your question, which is "esto".

Enojado vs enfadado

Both mean angry.

  • enojado: more common in Latin America.
  • enfadado: more common in Spain.

Indicative vs Subjunctive

  • indicative mood: factual, certainty, objectivity.
  • subjunctive mood: doubt, uncertainty, subjectivity

conocer vs saber


  • talk about a city or country, it means to be familiar with.

    Nosotros conocemos Nueva York.
  • know a person or a place. Always followed by a.

    ¿Conoces a mi madre? (Do you know my mother?)

saber: know information or how to do something.

¿Sabes quién vive aquí?
(Do you know who lives here?)

Que viene vs próximo

Both mean next.

  • que viene: always goes after the noun.
  • próximo: come before the noun. Changes according to the gender and number of the noun.


¿Puedes trabajar el lunes que viene?
(Can you work next Monday?)

Ellos van a ir a España el proximo mes.
(They are going to go to Spain next month.)

acá vs allá

  • acá: "here", something that is near you.
  • allá: "there", something that is farther away.

derecho vs derecha

  • derecha: right
  • derecho: straight

encontrar vs encontrarse

  • encontrar: to find
  • encontrarse: to meet

estar vs ser

Both mean is.

  • estar (estoy, estás, está ...): something that's only temporarily true, like someone's location, or how people are feeling or doing.
  • ser (soy, eres, es ...): for more permanent descriptions, like the qualities of a person or thing.

tú vs tu

  • : you
  • tu: your

tú vs usted

Both mean you.

  • : used in friendly conversations.
  • usted: used in more formal interactions.

le vs lo / la

le: indirect object pronoun. Used with dar, decir, verbs like gustar

Le digo
(I tell him / I tell her)

Le doy
(I give him / I give her)

lo / la: direct object pronouns. Used with most other verbs

Lo veo
(I see him)

La veo
(I see her)

Lo quiero / La quiero

Compare the following, the first one is to take the person to somewhere (use lo / la), while the second is to take something to the person (use le)

Voy a llevarlo al aeropuerto.
(I'm going to take him to the airport.)

Le voy a llevar esto.
(I'm going to take him this.)

le does not distinguish masculine and femiline. Use a ella and a él if needed.

A ella le voy a llevar el café.

ya vs todavía

ya: already, now, by now, yet, still, no longer, any more

todavía: yet, still, even, already

Positive Negative
Present todavía ya no
Past ya todavía no