Posted by: janecronin | March 11, 2018


“Elegir” means “to choose” and is closely related to our own Latin-based word “to elect”.  “Choose” and “elect” basically mean the same thing, but in the English language we generally use words of Latin origin in more technical or official contexts, whilst their Anglo-Saxon counterparts,  in this case “choose” are assigned to more everyday functions.  In other words, we “elect” a Prime Minister but we “choose” a pudding, although you might think the reverse is true!  Spanish, once more, is simpler in this particular respect, and we use “elegir” for both functions.

This verb is what we call “root-changing” as in the present tense the letter “e” which falls before the ending (i.e. in this case the second “e”) changes to an “i” in the first, second and third persons singular and third person plural.  This change pattern in the present tense is the same for all root-changing verbs, and also works through to the present subjunctive.  This verb also belongs to a small group which make the same e to i alteration in the gerund form “eligiendo”  (choosing) and in the third person preterite forms “eligió” and “eligieron”.

Sorry if that makes no sense, but maybe one day it will!  There’s one more technical point about “elegir” which is actually more to do with pronunciation than grammar.  In a few forms, for example, the first person singular of the present tense, you would probably expect to see the spelling “eligo” for “I choose”.  However, with this spelling, the pronunciation of the letter “g” has gone from a soft throaty sound (which it makes when followed by e or i) to a hard sound.  Therefore, the spelling has to be altered to preserve the correct pronunciation, because Spanish is always spelt phonetically.  Therefore, “I choose” is spelt “elijo”.  Apologies once more if you haven´t understood that bit either, but it does actually illustrate a fundamental principle of written and spoken Spanish, so is well worth getting to grips with if you can.

As usual there are a number of words which derive from this verb “elegir”.  The most obvious one is “elección” (election).  When referring to political elections, the word is usually found in the plural “las elecciones generales” or “las elecciones municipales” (or regionales or europeas).  Otherwise, “elección” can just mean “choice”, as in what dishes you’ve chosen for your menu del día.  “El electorado” is the “electorate” and “electo” means “elected”.  This is the term used for the winner of an election before they take office – “el presidente electo” or “la presidenta electa”.

One more derivative of “elegir” which clearly connects with English is the adjective “elegible” (electable, that is, eligible).  There is also the noun “elegibilidad” which looks like a real mouthful in Spanish, but is the exact equivalent of “eligibility” in English.


  1. Many thanks for this one. This ‘In other words, we “elect” a Prime Minister but we “choose” a pudding, although you might think the reverse is true! ‘ is too true.

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