Posted by: janecronin | March 3, 2018


“Comprar” is a pretty simple verb as it has no irregularities in its formation and has one basic meaning, that is, “to buy”.  Just to give a few examples, we can say “He comprado una casa” (I have bought a house); “Voy a comprar un vestido” (I’m going to buy a dress); “Normalmente compro las verduras en el mercadillo” (I usually buy my vegetables in the street market).  I think that’s enough to give you the general idea.

When we want to talk about “going shopping” or “doing the shopping” we use “las compras” for “the shopping”.  Note that “compras” here is not the verb but a plural noun.  To go shopping, therefore is “ir de compras” and to do the shopping is “hacer las compras” or we can also say the same thing in the singular “hacer la compra”.  The word “compra” in the singular can also stand for our word “purchase”, for example “Ha sido una compra muy buena” (it has been a very good purchase).

There are different ways of purchasing something, for example we can “comprar a plazos” (buy in instalments, or hire purchase) or we can “comprar al contado” (make a cash purchase).  There are various items you can take along to the shops, namely a “cesta de la compra” (shopping basket); “bolsa de la compra” (shopping bag) and, the most lethal of the three, “carrito de la compra” (shopping trolley).  You will see both “cesta” and “carrito” used on internet shopping pages as well, but the real “carrito” you have to be careful of is the one that gets rammed into your ankles in the street market on a busy weekday morning.

The word for the person who buys, i.e. a buyer, is “comprador” if it is a man or “compradora” in the feminine.  This could refer to the job of “buyer” or just to the rest of us when we go to the shops.  Notice the standard adding of the letter “a” to create the feminine form.  You will probably have been taught that the masculine forms in Spanish are the “default” forms which include male and female, but this masculine bias in the language is becoming more and more challenged as gender equality is more of an issue, so you will often find both masculine and feminine forms used together, depending on the context.  This point refers to any verb of course, but going back to “comprador” “compradora” and “buyer”, the Spanish words, unlike their English equivalent, carry an implicit gender reference.

Another word that makes use of the word “comprar” is “compraventa”.  We don´t have a direct equivalent of this one word in English, as it literally means “purchase-sale”.  We can translate it in a general sense as “buying and selling”, but very often it is used in the context of a sales agreement or contract – for example the sales contract on a house or other important item would be a Contrato de Compraventa.

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