Posted by: janecronin | June 10, 2018


“Ver” has two basic meanings in English: “to watch” and “to see”.  So, “ver la tele” would be to “watch TV” whereas “ver a mi vecino en la calle” would be “to see my neighbour in the street”.  This verb does have one or two irregularities so I’ll deal with those first.  If you don´t like the grammatical bits you’d better skip a couple of paragraphs!

In the first person singular of the present tense (meaning “I see” or “I watch”) the form is “veo”.  This is slightly irregular as the “e” of the “er” ending wouldn´t normally be included.  One way to remember this to it learn the Spanish version of “I spy with my little eye” which goes like this:  “Veo, veo”  “¿Qué ves?”  “Una cosita” “¿Qué cosita es?  “Una cosita que empieza por A”.  “Cosita” means “little thing” by the way, and yes, they really do go through this chant every time.  At least, they used to, before the days of ipads and tablets.  Try it with the younger members of your family some time!

Another irregularity is the past participle “visto” meaning “seen”, as in “He visto la película” (I have seen the film).   “Visto” can also be used as an adjective which means “seen” in various different ways.  In judicial terms it means “approved”, and it can also mean “obvious” or “clear”.  If we say something is “muy visto” it contains the idea of something that has been “seen too much”.  “No vuelvo a ponerme este vestido, está muy visto” (I won´t wear this dress again, it’s been seen too much).

Finally, “ver” is one of the few verbs (one of just three) that are irregular in the past imperfect tense (the one that means “was seeing” or “used to see”).  Here again it keeps the letter “e” in where you wouldn´t normally expect, so ” I used to watch TV in the evenings” is “Veía la tele por las tardes”.

There are quite a lot of expressions using a derivative of “ver” which is “visto”.  “Estar mal visto” means to be “considered unacceptable” or “frowned upon”.  “Dar el visto bueno” means to approve of something and to give it the “go-ahead”.   Another familiar derivate of “ver” is the word “vista” meaning “view”.   There is a compound verb “entrever” which means “to glimpse” “to catch a glimpse of” or more figuratively “to suspect” and “entrevista” means “interview”.

“Ver” is also used in that most everyday of expressions “vamos a ver” which means “let’s see”.  People use this all the time as a kind of prelude to looking into something that might be tricky or trying to explain something to someone.  It is also sometimes cut down to “a ver”.  I remember a few years ago hearing someone answer the phone by bellowing “¿A VER?” very loudly at the unexpected caller.  I’m sure he didn´t mean it quite as aggressively as he managed to make it sound.


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