Posted by: janecronin | June 17, 2018


The verb “buscar” means “to search” or “to look for”.  In everyday English speech we use the two-word verb “to look for” much more commonly than “to search”.  If you are a native English speaker you have possibly never given this much thought, but to all learners of English as a foreign language, “look for” belongs to a dreaded group of words called “phrasal verbs”.  English is absolutely chock-a-block with them – get off, go out, play up, put up with – and hundreds more.  Of course we take these for granted, but they are very complicated for non-English speakers, who often have single words in their own language to convey the same meaning.  I mention this now, because when you translate from English into Spanish, it’s a common mistake to assume you have to translate all little words too.  In other words, don´t think that an alternative way of translating “to look for” is “mirar para”.  This is a complete misunderstand due to the weirdness of the English language and the phenomenon should be borne in mind generally as the same applies to many other verbs.

“Buscar” is a completely regular verb but it does undergo what I call a “spelling adjustment” in certain forms.  When the endings begin with an “e” or an “i” the “c” of “buscar” has to change to a “qu” for it to phonetically represent the same sound.  Therefore with have “busqué” (I looked for) and “busque, busques … etc” in the present subjunctive.  You can see the same spelling adjustment in the noun “search” (as in “the search for truth”) which is “búsqueda” (la búsqueda de la verdad).

A place where the word “busca” appears a lot is on signs which are the equivalent of “wanted” posters in English:  “se busca …”   It could be a lost pet or an outlaw in the Wild West, both of which are being sought, which is what “se busca” means (one seeks).  You will also find the button “buscar” instead of “search” on the internet.

If we add the prefix “re” to buscar, we get “rebuscar” which means to look for something very carefully and thoroughly.  The “re” gives it the meaning of looking for something over and over again.  We often find a form of this verb in the word “rebuscado” which usually refers to written communication and means tortuous, obscure or affected.  Those letters you get from the tax authorities or the law courts which make absolutely no sense at all, to you or anyone else.  They can be described as “rebuscado”, and in many cases one suspects, deliberately so.

“Buscar” can also be found in the reflexive form “buscarse”.  This basically intensifies meaning of “look for” to something like “go looking for” in the sense of “provoke”.  It is also used in the well-worn phrase “buscarse la vida” which means to “make your own way in life” as we all have to do.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: