The Spanish verb echar can be used in many different ways and appears in a host of different Spanish idiomatic expressions. Let's explore the many meanings and uses of the Spanish verb echar.
While the first definition of echar in dictionaries is typically "to throw," it can refer to any literal or figurative movement from one point to another and can thus be translated in many fashions depending upon the context. Let's take a look at several of its most common meanings with examples from our Yabla Spanish library.
Although the Spanish verb echar can literally mean "to throw," "toss," or "hurl" something, it is probably more common to hear verbs like tirar, lanzar, or arrojar used with this meaning. That said, let's take a look at an example where echar means to physically throw something:
y le echas harina y se lo pones en el pelo y... ¡Chwak!
and you throw flour on her and you put it in her hair and... Bam!
Caption 17, Club 10 Capítulo 1 - Part 1Play Caption
The Spanish verb echar can also be used in the way we use the verbs "to throw" something "out" or "away," whether literally or figuratively. Let's look at an example of each:
Por lo general, tenemos cuatro contenedores: el azul, donde echamos el papel, cartón, revistas,
Generally, we have four trash bins: the blue one, where we throw away paper, cardboard, magazines,
Captions 3-4, Rosa ReciclarPlay Caption
Todo estaba tranquilo y lo echaste a la basura
Everything was calm and you threw it in the garbage
Caption 3, Sondulo Que te vaya malPlay Caption
The verb echar in Spanish often appears in recipes and other contexts when talking about "adding" or "putting in" some ingredient, etc. Let's take a look:
Le voy a echar un poco de nata...
I'm going to add a bit of cream to it...
Caption 47, Cómetelo Crema de brócoli - Part 9Play Caption
Bueno, también le podemos echar diferentes clases de condimentos.
Well, we can also put in different kinds of seasoning.
Caption 24, Cocinando con Miguelito Pollo sudado - Part 2Play Caption
Along these same lines, echar can also be used to mean to pour something into something else:
Solo falta echarla en el molde
We just need to pour it into the mold
Caption 38, Cleer y Lía El día de la madrePlay Caption
The verb echar in Spanish may also refer to getting rid of someone in the sense of throwing or kicking them out, temporarily or permanently:
No sé qué hace este señor todavía acá, lo eché esta misma tarde.
I don't know what this gentleman is still doing here. I threw him out this very afternoon.
Caption 33, Muñeca Brava 3 Nueva Casa - Part 4Play Caption
Se mueren por saber por qué echó a la chirusa.
They're dying to know why she fired the vulgar girl.
Caption 42, Carlos y Cyndy Comentario sobre Muñeca BravaPlay Caption
And speaking of "expelling" and "fire," the verb echar in Spanish can also mean to "expel," "emit," "give off," or "spew" fire or smoke, for example:
Pero eso no lo iba a entender un dragón al que solo le interesaba rugir y echar fuego por la boca.
But a dragon who was only interested in roaring and spewing fire from his mouth wasn't going to get it.
Caption 49, Los Años Maravillosos Capítulo 1 - Part 7Play Caption
And, to conclude with our more standard uses of the Spanish verb echar, the formula echar + infinitive means "to start" [doing something]:
y ven la batidora, echan a correr.
and they see the blender, they start to run.
Caption 31, Cómetelo Crema de brócoli - Part 8Play Caption
This meaning might also be seen with the reflexive version of the verb, echarse.
Pero ya las lágrimas se echaban a correr
But the tears were starting to fall
Caption 8, Jeremías Uno y uno igual a tresPlay Caption
Let's take a look at some additional uses of the reflexive verb echarse.
The reflexive verb echarse can be used to talk about "lying down" as in Me voy a echar en la cama (I'm going to lie down in bed) or generally "throwing oneself" or "getting down":
Los hombres que cuando se les dicen de echarse al suelo es que no quieren ninguno.
When men are told to get down on the ground, the thing is that no one wants to.
Captions 52-53, 75 minutos Del campo a la mesa - Part 8Play Caption
The reflexive verb echarse can additionally have the connotation of moving from one place to another, as in the first example, and is therefore heard often in songs, as in the second, with various translations to tell people how they should move.
donde el pueblo se echa a la calle junto a miles de visitantes
where the town goes out onto the street along with thousands of visitors
Caption 57, Viajando con Fermín Frigiliana, MálagaPlay Caption
Échate pa' un lado
Caption 8, Javier García EPK - Part 2Play Caption
Now, let's look at several Spanish idioms that involve the Spanish verbs echar or echarse with examples in context:
¡Y me echó la culpa de todo!
And she blamed everything on me!Play Caption
El marido se echó a reír al ver la cara de sorpresa de su esposa.
The husband burst out laughing when he saw his wife's surprised face.
Caption 32, Cleer El espejo de MatsuyamaPlay Caption
Después de haberse marchado todos, estaba sola en casa y se echó a llorar.
After everyone had left, she was alone in the house and burst out crying.
Captions 29-30, Cuentos de hadas Cenicienta - Part 1Play Caption
Después de comer, solemos echar la siesta
After eating, we usually take a nap
Caption 20, El Aula Azul Actividades DiariasPlay Caption
Ahora cerramos la puerta, echamos la llave
Now we close the door, we lock it,Play Caption
De España echo mucho de menos el clima,
From Spain, I really miss the weather,
Caption 39, Álvaro Arquitecto Español en LondresPlay Caption
para que nos eche una mano y les vamos a dar
so that he can lend us a hand and we are going to give them
Caption 50, Club de las ideas BioparcPlay Caption
De acuerdo, deje que eche un vistazo.
OK, let me take a look.
Caption 63, Negocios Empezar en un nuevo trabajo - Part 2Play Caption
Así es y pues aquí mira, trabajando, echándole ganas y...
It's so, and well, [we] are here, [you] see, working, giving it my all and...Play Caption
No puedo, negrita, ya eché a perder como diez laburo'.
I can't, honey. I already messed up like ten jobs.
Caption 3, Muñeca Brava 3 Nueva Casa - Part 5Play Caption
¡Callate, Rufino! No eches más leña al fuego, ¿querés?
Shut up, Rufino! Don't put more wood into the fire [don't add fuel to the fire], will you?
Caption 23, Yago 8 Descubrimiento - Part 2Play Caption
Todavía no ha jugado el partido de fútbol y ya está "echando las campanas al vuelo",
He hasn't played the soccer match yet, and he's already "throwing the bells in the air,"
Captions 45-46, Aprendiendo con Silvia Campanas - Part 2Play Caption
Although the literal meaning is totally different, this Spanish expression is comparable to the English idiom about "counting one's chickens before they are hatched." For more such examples, check out this lesson on Spanish idioms and their (very different) English equivalents.
As there are so many standard and idiomatic ways to use the Spanish verb echar that it would be impossible to name them all, we've provided just a smattering! Don't hesitate to write to us with any more you come across, or with any ideas for future lessons. ¡Hasta la próxima!