Unit 5: The infinitive, stem-change verbs, and por and para

Unit 5: Basic Vocabulary

Vocabulario básico


alto high, tall
bajo low, short (height)
bastante enough*
corto short
extraño strange
propio  own (false friend)


bastante enough, fairly, sufficiently, rather*
hasta even
tan so
tanto as much, so much

*Note the different as well as overlapping meanings of bastante when used as an adverb versus adjective: Habla bastante. (He speaks enough.) ¿Hay bastantes sillas? (Are there enough chairs?) Hablas bastante bien. (You speak fairly [rather, sufficiently] well.)

Conjunciones (Conjunctions):

así (que) so, this, therefore
lo que what, that which
siempre que whenever, provided that


algunas veces sometimes
a menudo often
a veces at times
muchas veces often (many times)
la primera vez the first time
rara vez, raras veces seldom, infrequently, rarely


hasta until, up to, as far as
sin without


la época epoch, era, time
la era era
la hora hour, time (of day)
la manera manner, way
la medianoche midnight
el medio means, medium, middle
el mediodía noon, midday


almorzar (ue) to eat lunch
amenazar (con) to threaten (to) (cognate: to menace)
cerrar (ie) to close, to shut
comenzar (ie) to begin, to start*
conducir to drive, to conduct
conseguir (i) to obtain, to get, to manage (before an inf.)
convencer (a) to convince
correr to run
destacar(se) to stand out
detener to detain, to arrest**
devolver (ue) to return (an object)
dormir (ue) to sleep (cognate- dormant)
empezar (ie) to start, to begin*
encender (ie) to turn on
encontrar (ue) to encounter, to find
enseñar (a) to show, to teach
entender (ie) to understand
entregar to deliver, to hand in
ganar to gain, to earn, to win
jugar (ue) to play (a sport, a game)
jurar to swear
llover (ue) to rain
mostrar (ue) to show
nevar (ie) to snow
ofrecer to offer
pedir (i) to request, to ask for
pensar (ie) to think
pensar + inf. to intend (to do something)****
pensar + en to think about someone or something, to reflect on someone or something****
pensar + de to think (in the sense of having an opinion about something), often used in a question*****
perder (ie) to lose
poder (ue) to be able to, can
preferir (ie) to prefer
querer (ie) to want, to love
reconocer to recognize
recordar (ue) to remember, to remind
seguir (i) to follow, to keep on, to continue (doing something), to remain, to be
servir (i) to serve, to be useful
soler (ue) (+inf.) to be accustomed/ used (to doing something)
sonar (ue) to ring, to sound
tocar to play (music), to touch
traducir to translate
tratar to treat
tratar (de + inf.) to try (to do something)
volar (ue) to fly
volver (ue) to return (to a place)

*These two verbs are generally used synonymously, with equal frequency.

**Like mantener, this is a compound form of tener and has all the same irregularities.

***This frequent expression is easy to mistranslate as, for example, “I am thinking about …ing.” Be sure to translate it as “I intend to….”

****Pienso mucho en mi abuelo. I think about my grandfather a lot.

*****¿Qué piensan Uds. de la nueva ley? What do you think of the new law?

¡Ojo! There are five verbs in the list above that because of their similarity may cause confusion in reading. These verbs have cognates in English, which may serve as a mnemonic device to help avoid confusion.

Verb Mnemonic Device
pensar (to think) is “pensive”
perder (to lose) is “perdition”
pedir (to request/ask for) is “to petition” (Remember that t and d are phonetically related consonants.)
poder (to be able to/can) is “potent”
poner (to put) is “to position” (or “to posit”)

The relationship between poner and “to position” will be seen in the preterite tense (section 8.2.), which in the first person singular is puse.


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Spanish for Reading and Translation by Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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