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The Many Uses of the Spanish Verb Echar

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.

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Standard Meanings of the 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.

 

To Throw:

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 1

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To Throw Out/Away:

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 Reciclar

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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 mal

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To Add/Put in:

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 9

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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 2

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To Pour:

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 madre

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To Kick Out/Throw Out/Expel/Fire: 

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 4

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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 Brava

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To Expel/Emit/Give Off: 

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 7

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To Start:

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 8

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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 tres

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More Meanings of the Reflexive Verb Echarse

Let's take a look at some additional uses of the reflexive verb echarse. 

 

 

To Lie Down/Get Down/Throw Oneself

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 8

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To Move

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, Málaga

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Échate pa' un lado

Move aside

Caption 8, Javier García EPK - Part 2

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Idiomatic Expressions with the Spanish Verb Echar

Now, let's look at several Spanish idioms that involve the Spanish verbs echar or echarse with examples in context:

 

Echar la culpa (to blame)

 

¡Y me echó la culpa de todo!

And she blamed everything on me!

Caption 13, Guillermina y Candelario La Peluqueria del Mar - Part 1

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Echarse a reír/llorar (to burst out laughing/crying)

 

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 Matsuyama

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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 1

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Echar la/una siesta (to take a nap/siesta)

 

Después de comer, solemos echar la siesta

After eating, we usually take a nap

Caption 20, El Aula Azul Actividades Diarias

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Echar la llave (to lock)

 

Ahora cerramos la puerta, echamos la llave

Now we close the door, we lock it,

Caption 12, Escuela BCNLIP Clase con Javi: el futuro - Part 1

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Echar de menos (to miss)

 

De España echo mucho de menos el clima,

From Spain, I really miss the weather,

Caption 39, Álvaro Arquitecto Español en Londres

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Echar la/una mano (to lend a hand)

 

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 Bioparc

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Echar(le) un vistazo (to take a look)

 

De acuerdo, deje que eche un vistazo.

OK, let me take a look.

Caption 63, Negocios Empezar en un nuevo trabajo - Part 2

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Echarle ganas (to work hard)

 

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...

Caption 17, Edificio en Construcción Hablando con los trabajadores - Part 2

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Echar a perder (to mess up/spoil/ruin or bankrupt)

 

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 5

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Echar (más) leña al fuego (to add (more) fuel to the fire)

 

¡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 2

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Echar las campanas al vuelo (to vehemently celebrate prematurely)

 

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 2

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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!

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Spanish Si Clauses: How to Use and Form Conditional "If" Clauses

Do you want to know how to form 'if clauses' in Spanish? The first thing you need to know is that the word "si" is the Spanish term we use for the English word "if". So, from now on, think of 'si clauses' as 'if clauses'. Let's dive into some of the grammar rules and different uses that define 'si clauses' in Spanish.

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The two parts of a conditional sentence with a 'si clause'

We use 'si clauses' when we want to form conditional sentences. In fact, all conditional sentences in Spanish have the following two parts:

 

1. The condition, expressed (in a subordinate or dependant clause) with the conditional "si" (the actual si clause/if clause), and

2. The main clause, which is the sentence that tells us what the result or consequence will be if the condition expressed by the si clause occurs.

 

Let's see an example:

 

Si llueve, nos mojamos.

If it rains, we get wet.

Caption 47, Ana Carolina - Condicionales

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In we take this example, we can easily see the two parts of that conditional sentence:

1. The condition with the si clause: Si llueve (If it rains)

2. The result clause: nos mojamos (we get wet)

 

When to use conditional 'si clauses' in Spanish

Just like with 'if clauses' in English, we use 'si clauses' in Spanish to talk about possibilities. Moreover, in Spanish, we have three different kinds of conditional sentences.

 

1. Conditional sentences with a likely result

We use these sentences to express things that are very likely to happen. In other words, if the condition occurs, the result will also occur. Let's see an example:

 

Si trabajas, tendrás dinero.

If you work, you'll have money.

Caption 56, Ana Carolina - Condicionales

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2. Conditional sentences with an unlikely result

We use this kind of 'si clauses' when the speaker has serious doubts about the condition and its potential result. Let's see an example:

 

Si me tocara la lotería, viajaría por todo el mundo,

If I won the lottery, I'd travel around the whole world,

y me alojaría en los hoteles más lujosos.

and I'd stay at the most luxurious hotels.

Captions 26-27, El Aula Azul - La Doctora Consejos: La segunda condicional

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3. Conditional sentences with an impossible result

Finally, we use these conditional sentences when we talk about a condition in the past that didn't occur, which means that it is impossible for the result to happen. Let's see an example:

 

Si hubiera estado sobrio, no me hubiera animado.

If I had been sober, I wouldn't have dared.

Caption 5, Yago - 12 Fianza

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The grammar behind conditional sentences with 'si clauses'

Now that we know the three main types of 'if clauses' in Spanish, let's see how to form each one of these types of conditional clauses.

 

1. Conditional sentences with a likely result

Condition: Si + present indicative

Result: present indicative OR future OR imperative

 

Let's look at an example:

 

Si sales, regresa temprano.

If you go out, come back early.

Caption 61, Ana Carolina - Condicionales

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Notice that the result is expressed using the imperative form regresa (come back).

 

2. Conditional sentences with an unlikely result

Condition: Si + past (imperfect) subjunctive

Result: Simple conditional

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Let's see the following example:

 

Si me encontrara un sobre con cincuenta mil euros,

If I found an envelope with fifty thousand euros,

lo cogería, claro. Y me compraría un coche descapotable.

I'd take it, of course. And I'd buy a convertible car.

Captions 21-23, El Aula Azul - La Doctora Consejos: La segunda condicional

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Notice that in this caption the result is expressed with the conditional forms cogería (I'd take it) and compraría (I'd buy).

 

3. Conditional sentences with an impossible result

Condition: Si + pluperfect subjunctive

Result: Past conditional

 

Let's see an example:

Si hubiera leído más, habría terminado el libro

If I had read more, I would have finished the book.

 

However, sometimes when the result clause refers to something that is still valid in the present, you can use the simple conditional instead of the past conditional. Let's see an example:

 

Es una pena; si hubiéramos firmado el contrato la semana pasada,

It's a shame; If we had signed the contract last week,

todo seguiría igual.

everything would stay the same.

Captions 22-23, Negocios - Problemas laborales

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Furthermore, in spoken Spanish it is common to use the pluperfect subjunctive in the result clause just like in the example we previously mentioned:

 

Si hubiera estado sobrio, no me hubiera animado.

If I had been sober, I wouldn't have dared.

Caption 5, Yago - 12 Fianza

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That's it for today. Are you ready to write some 'si clauses' in Spanish? We encourage you to write a couple of sentences for each one of the three types of conditional sentences we have covered in this lesson. And don't forget to send us your comments and questions

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