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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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Feliz Día de las Madres (Happy Mother's Day)!

What holiday falls on el segundo domingo de mayo (the second Sunday in May) in the United States?

 

Es el Día de las Madres.

It's Mother's Day.

Caption 3, Cleer y Lía El día de la madre

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Although the day on which se festeja (it is celebrated) varies from country to country in the Spanish-speaking world, many of las costumbres  (the customs) overlap. That said, let's talk about some ideas for celebrating your mother while learning some pertinent vocabulary in Spanish! 

 

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Ways to Say "Mother" in Spanish

Just like in English, there are many ways to refer to one's mother in Spanish! Let's take a look: 

 

madre: mother 

 

Tenía que comprar un regalo para mi madre

I had to buy a gift for my mother.

Caption 9, El Aula Azul La Doctora Consejos: Por y para

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mamá: mom 

 

Es que eran unas flores muy bonitas, y se las quería regalar a mi mamá.

It's just that they were some very beautiful flowers, and I wanted to give them to my mom.

Captions 12-13, Guillermina y Candelario El Rey de la Selva

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ma: ma/mom/mommy

 

Aquí estoy, ma.

Here I am, Mom.

Caption 45, X6 1 - La banda - Part 11

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mami: mommy

 

Ah. -Tú le diste el teléfono, ¿no, mami?

Oh. -You gave him the phone number, right, Mommy?

Caption 26, Yago 11 Prisión - Part 8

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However, note that in certain contexts, "mami" is a slang term for "baby":

 

Mami, te prometo que esto se va a arreglar

Baby, I promise you that this is going to get fixed

Caption 19, DJ Bitman El Diablo

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Another word that could be used to say either "mommy" or "baby" in Spanish is mamita (whereas mamacita would always refer to an attractive female rather than an actual mom).

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Mother's Day Gifts 

You may have noticed in the examples above the Mother's Day-appropriate vocabulary words regalar (to give, as in a gift), el regalo (the present), and las flores (the flowers). What might be another typical item to give to your mother on Mother's Day?

 

Estoy leyendo mi tarjeta de felicitación.

I am reading my greeting card.

Caption 9, Marta Vocabulario de Cumpleaños

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While the speaker in this caption is referring to a birthday card, la tarjeta de felicitación could refer to any type of "greeting card" (if you'd like to brush up on your birthday vocabulary, check out this lesson on Todo sobre los cumpleaños (All About Birthdays) in Spanish). Other typical Mother's Day gifts, like una caja de chocolates (a box of chocolates) might overlap with your Spanish vocabulary for Valentine's Day

 

Additional Gift Ideas 

What might be another way to  sorprender (surprise) your mom (the noun for "a surprise" in Spanish is una sorpresa)?

 

Mi mamá es muy buena conmigo siempre y por eso decidí sorprenderla con una torta de chocolate

My mom is always very good to me, and that's why I decided to surprise her with a chocolate cake

Captions 5-6, Cleer y Lía El día de la madre

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As Cleer mentions, cocinar (cooking) or hornear (baking) something for her could be nice, as would servirle un desayuno en la cama (serving her breakfast in bed). And, if you want to include a scrumptious beverage in the equation, we recommend this tutorial on how to make mimosas

 

Alternatively, you could invite your mom to salir a... (go out to...) desauynar (breakfast/brunch), almorzar (lunch/brunch), or the anglicism, brunchear (brunch).

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How About a Spa Day?

A day at the spa or un tratamiento de belleza (beauty treatment) might be just what mom needs to relajarse (relax) and sentirse valorada (feel appreciated). Let's take a look at the names for some services she might enjoy: 

 

Tenemos, eh... la facial de una hora que es la clásica

We have, um... the one-hour facial, which is the classic one,

Caption 10, Cleer y Lida Conversación telefónica - Part 2

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un largo y tierno masaje,

a long and tender massage,

Caption 23, Aprendiendo con Silvia Pequeños grandes placeres - Part 2

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También ofrecemos manicure y pedicure.

We also offer manicures and pedicures.

Caption 13, Cleer y Lida Conversación telefónica - Part 2

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Manicures and pedicures might also be referred to as la manicura/la pedicura in Spanish. 

 

Spending Time with Mom

In addition to the aforementioned suggestions, pasar tiempo (spending time) with your mom in any capacity is bound to go over well. You could opt for the previously suggested meal together, or perhaps some outing to hacer senderismo (go hiking), ir al cine (go to the movies), or in the best of cases, ir de vacaciones (go on vacation). And, if you don't live near your mother, llamarla (calling her) would certainly make her day. 

 

Sweet Things to Say to Mom

We'll conclude this lesson with a few nice things you might say to your mom on el Día de la Madre (another way to say "Mother's Day" in Spanish), or any day! 

 

Te quiero/Te amo: I love you (Note that in some countries, the verb amar (to love) refers to only romantic love, while in others, it is appropriate for family members).

 

Eres la mejor mamá del mundo: You're the best mom in the world. 

 

Gracias por todo lo que has hecho por mí: Thank you for everything you've done for me. 

 

Estoy muy agradecido/a: I'm very grateful. 

 

Another way to direct some kind words to your mother might be reciting a poem, such as this suitable one entitled A mamá (To Mom).

 

For more Mother's Day vocabulary (and a great chocolate cake recipe!), watch Cleer y Lía- El día de la madre, and don't forget to recognize your mom, grandma, or any other great mom you know on el Día de las Madres... and to leave us your suggestions and comments!

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