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02 acabar de + infinitive

Hola. In this lesson we’re working on a special verb phrase to explain that someone has just done something [recently]. It’s actually really easy. All it takes is acabar + de + an infinitive verb.

verb chart:

present tense acabar de


sustantivos (nouns)

  • el bistec – steak
  • el cine – the movie theater
  • el comentario – comment
  • el equipo – team
  • el libro – book
  • el profesor – teacher
  • la fiesta – the party
  • la mamá – my mom
  • las papas – potatoes
  • la película – movie
  • la ropa – clothes / clothing
  • la verdad – the truth
  • los estudiantes – students
  • los huevos – eggs
  • los muchachos – boys
  • un beso – a kiss
  • un carro – car
  • un mensaje de texto – a text message
  • un minuto – one minute
  • un trofeo – a trophy

verbos (verbs)

  • acostarse – to go to bed
  • bañarse – to bathe
  • cenar – to eat dinner
  • comer – to eat
  • comprar – to buy
  • dar – to give
  • decir – to say, to tell
  • enviar – to send
  • ganar – to win
  • hablar – to talk
  • irse – to leave
  • levantarse – to get (oneself) up
  • llegar – to arrive
  • marcharse – to leave
  • planchar – to iron
  • ver – to see

otro (other)

  • a – to
  • cinco – five
  • con – with
  • en – in, on
  • ese / esa – that
  • favorito – favorite
  • le – to him, to her
  • me – to me, me
  • mi(s) – my
  • para – for
  • todo / toda – all
  • tu(s) – your

8 Responses

  1. Thanks for all of the wonderful videos. It helps a lot!

    Also, do you happen to know if there’s a similar project to yours for french? (you don’t happen to speak french, do you? :D)

  2. You would use “acabo de comer” to say I (have) just ate, but would you use the past or
    imperfect for some constructions? For example “acabé de comer” or “Yo acababa
    de comer” to say I HAD just ate… (implying some past action when one is telling another
    of a prior event? Gracias Sr. Jordan…. I’ve enjoyed your videos for over ayear now!

  3. “Emilia le acaba de dar un beso a Juan” –
    does it mean that it just happened not long ago, or that it was just a kiss, and nothing more? can it mean both?


  4. Jim,
    Great question! I was going to make a video a little later about your question. We use ‘acabar’ in the imperfect for the ‘had just done’ something. So “Javier acababa de hablar por teléfono” (Javier had just spoken on the phone).

    -Sr. J

  5. John,
    I tried to clarify this very question a few times in the video. But it’s confusing because in English we often use ‘just’ to say “only”.

    “Emilia le acaba de dar un beso a Juan” means it didn’t happen long ago. That is, she [just] gave him a kiss [right now]!

    -Sr. J

  6. Isn’t it interesting that acabar + infinitive has sort of a present-tense connotation? It always seems like it should be in the past. 🙂 I also always find myself doing a doubletake when I hear native Spanish speakers use the present tense with other verbs to tell stories in the past. For instance, “Ayer estaba en el mall. Veo a Monica y le digo blah blah blah…” In English we would keep using the past, but I hear native speakers switch to the present in this type of situation quite frequently. Gotta love learning languages. 🙂

  7. Rocky,
    You bring up an interesting point. People in Spanish also can switch to the present when narrating similar to as we do in English. Think of it this way, when you’re telling about something and then you say:
    “and I say to him”…”and he says…”… even though it’s in the past.

    -Sr. J

  8. Hello,

    The video was very helpful. Thank you.
    But I was wondering how to use acabar de + inf in the Preterite & Preterito imperfecto
    acabé, acabaste, acabó or acababa, acababas, acababa Etc.

    Would be glad if you could give me some examples.

    Thank you.


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