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Spanish 101A

Spanish 101B

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Acabar means to finish, but it is also used in other ways to express slightly different kinds of finishing. Let's look first at Acabar de:

  • Acabar de + infinitivo is an idiomatic expression that is the equivalent of a present perfect expression in English: "to have just [verb in past participle form]

The difference is that where English uses a past participle, Spanish uses the infintive of a verb.

For example in English we say:

I have just eaten an apple. "eaten" is the past participle

But in Spanish we use the present tense of Acabar + de + an infinitive:

Acabo de comer [infinitive] una manzana I have just eaten [past participle] an apple

Let's look at some more examples:

Acabo de despertarme. I have just woken up.
Acabas de ducharte. You have just taken a shower.
Acabamos de llegar. We've just arrived.

Acabar de also has a past tense which corresponds to the Past Perfect tense in English. For example, in English we would say:

I had just eaten an apple.

"eaten" is the past participle just as before;

but this time we have conjugated "to Have" in the past tense; "had"

In Spanish we use the Imperfect past tense of Acabar:

(Yo) Acababa de I had just
comer [infinitive] eaten [past participle]
una manzana an apple

Let's look at some more examples:

(Yo) Acababa de levantarme. I had just gotten up.
Acababas de maquillarte. You had just put on your make-up.
Acabábamos de llegar. We had just arrived.

Another expression is Acabar por + infinitivo

Use this construction to express having finally done something:

(Yo) Acabé por levantarme. I finally got up.
Acabaste por maquillarte. You finally put on your make-up.
Acabamos por llegar. We finally arrived.

or can mean to have ended up doing something:

(Yo) Acabé por ir por tren. I ended up going by train.
Acabaste por decirle que no. You ended up telling him "no."
Acabamos por cenar en el restaurante hindú en vez del restaurante italiano. We ended up dining at the Indian restaurant instead of the Italian restaurant.

Other uses:

Acabar con : to have ended or ruined someone or something

Acabarse : to have ended, have come to a close