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Echarse: To Start To

Cheating! Bitter tears! Broken hearts!... There's a lot of action in this week's featured song by Jeremías -Uno y uno igual a tres ("One and One, the Same As Three") -- which is why the singer uses a lot of verbs (except in the song title).


By and large, the verbs sprinkled throughout these lyrics are standards found in classic reference texts, like 501 Spanish Verbs and The Big Red Book of Spanish Verbs. But they may not follow the first definitions found on the top of the page. Let's take a closer look at some lyrics.


Pero ya las lágrimas se echaban a correr

But the tears were starting to fall

Caption 8, Jeremías - Uno y uno igual a tres

 Play Caption


The first definition students usually learn for echar is usually "to throw" -as in, ¡Echa la pelota! ("Throw the ball!"). But in this construction -echarse a + infinitive- the more faithful translation is "to begin to [do something]." For example:

De repente, se echó a reír
Suddenly, he began to laugh 

Suddenly, he burst out


So, in the song lyric cited above, a student of Spanish who only knew the first definition of echar might try to translate the sentence as "But the tears had already thrown themselves to running." Well, almost... familiarity with the construction echarse a + infinitive will help you quickly realize that the tears had started to run (or, in English, it's more common to say tears "fall").


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