As we all well know, mastering a language is a very difficult task — and Spanish is no different. Despite most Americans believing the language to be easy, reaching fluency requires a great deal of time and effort. Fortunately, though, there are aspects of the language that are very manageable, such as vocabulary. Due to the heavy influence of Latin-based words in both English and Spanish, there many words that English speakers will automatically recognize and be familiar with.
A classic example of this could be the word importante, which quite obviously means ‘important’. In the case of verbs, the same thing happens frequently. This is evidenced in the case of the verb tolerar, which means tolerate. Different from nouns, though, verbs have to be conjugated, and then of course may or may not be used in exactly the same manner as in English. In this post we’re going to explore this topic a bit by discussing the different uses of the verbs hacer and echar.
The use of the verb hacer
Fortunately for English speakers, hacer is a very easy verb to use. We’re lucky because this verb, which translates to both ‘to make’ and ‘to do’, is a nightmare for Spanish speakers to translate into English. After all, why do we say ‘make a mistake’ but ‘do your best’? For us it makes perfect sense and we can’t imagine it any other way. In Spanish, easily enough, we just have to say hacer, so it’s very straightforward.
We must keep in mind, however, that the way in which we use ‘make/do’ in English is not necessarily the same in Spanish, and vice versa. The best example of this with hacer is how the weather is expressed in Spanish. In English, we use the verb ‘to be’ and ‘it’ as the corresponding subject, e.g. ‘It’s hot’. In Spanish, on the other hand, hacer is used for this purpose, and with no subject. The above sentence is expressed Hace calor, which literally translates to ‘[It] makes heat’.
Another case where hacer is used is to describe how long ago something happened. Where in English we would say ‘It’s been a long time since I’ve seen you’, in Spanish they say Hace mucho que no te veo. Literally, this means ‘[It] makes a lot that I don’t see you’, which as we can see, doesn’t make much sense translated so directly.
The verb echar
In contrast to hacer, the verb echar can be very confusing for English speakers. In the Real Academia Española’s dictionary, there are literally forty-eight definitions for this verb, in addition to other idioms and expressions. Therefore, using and understanding echar properly is not an easy task. The quick definition given for the verb is typically ‘throw’, which it does mean in many cases, but it would be impossible to use one English verb to substitute echar in all of its possible uses. So, to learn this verb it takes a fair amount of study and practice.
Let’s talk about some of the different possibilities with echar. Perhaps the most common expression that causes confusion is echar de menos (a alguien), which means to miss somebody, thus Te echo de menos means ‘I miss you’. Another common colloquial expression with echar is the question ¿Cuántos (años) me echas?, which means ‘How old do you think I am?’. Echar can be used to say ‘kick/throw sb out’, but echar barriga means ‘to grow a belly’. The list goes on with different options and variants, so the dictionary is going to be your best ally when having to decipher the meaning being used.
Practice Makes Perfect
When it comes to verbs such as hacer and echar, practice makes perfect. The more you expose yourself to the language, the better grip you’ll have on things. As they say: Practice makes perfect!