Posted by: janecronin | February 18, 2018


You have almost certainly come across the verb “bajar”, or some derivative of it, many times in the course of your everyday life in Spain.  The verb itself means “to go down”, “to come down” or “to lower”.  There are no irregularities in the way “bajar” is conjugated so it behaves just like the verb “hablar” in all its tense changes.  It has a number of uses which all tie in to its basic, simple meaning.  Apart from the obvious, going down a hill or a flight of stairs, we can use it when referring to volume, so “bajar el volumen” means “to lower the volume” although in English we more often say to “turn down the volume”.  “Bajar” is also used to refer to the temperature, prices and sea levels.

As I said at the beginning, there are many everyday derivatives of “bajar”.  The noun “baja” is used in an administrative context to refer to one’s work and health status.  Someone who is officially “off” work for whatever reason, in Spanish is “de baja”.  This may be “baja por maternidad” (maternity leave), “baja por enfermedad” (sickness leave) or “baja por motivos familiares” (compassionate leave).  This same concept works with vehicles, if your car is “de baja” then it is officially off the road.  Another noun related to “bajar” is “bajo” which means ground floor and can also refer to a premises that opens onto street level, such as a “bajo comercial” (shop premises).

The adjective related to “bajar” is “bajo/baja” meaning “short” (in height, but not in length) and “low” referring to buildings, hills and also volume.  In all cases the opposite is “alto” (tall, high, loud).  “Bajo” is also used as an adverb in a wide variety of phrases including: “bajo control” (under control”) “bajo cero” (below zero) and “bajo mi punto de vista” (from my point of view).  Then we have the preposition “debajo” meaning “under”.  “El ratón está debajo de la mesa” (“The mouse is under the table” – to slightly misquote Eddie Izzard on the subject of useless French phrases).

“Bajar” can be made reflexive “bajarse” which means “to get down”, “to climb down” or the more old-fashioned word “to alight”.  It is also used when in English we would say “to get out of” a car or train “bajarse del coche”, “bajarse del tren”.  This reflexive form can also be used figuratively, as in “to climb down” from ones ideas or negotiating position, and the person who has to “bajarse del burro” (literally, “climb down from his/her donkey”) is someone who has to swallow their pride and “eat humble pie”.  When you want to unsubscribe from a service or de-register from some official status or process, we say “darse de baja”.  Finally, If we add the prefix “re-“to our original verb, we get “rebajar” which is “to reduce” usually referring to price.  That is why the sales are called “las rebajas”.


  1. What a shame you had to mention the weirdo Izzard.

    • No problem for me in mentioning him, I’m a huge fan.

  2. Delightful insights on this alighting word.

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