Posted by: janecronin | August 26, 2018


“Perder” is a verb that means “to lose” and also “to miss” in the sense of missing a bus or your favourite TV programme.  It is a root-changing verb which means that in the present tense some of its forms add an extra letter “i” namely “pierdo” (I lose) “pierdes” (you lose) “pierde” (he or she loses) and “pierden” (they lose).  Other than that we are looking at an ordinary sort of verb that behaves itself reasonably most of the time.

There are quite a few derivatives of “perder”; the first of which that comes to mind being “pérdida” which means “loss”.  This is a word that is used when giving directions.  After informing people about the appropriate number of turnings and roundabouts, the instructions are often rounded off with “no tiene pérdida” which literally means “it doesn´t have any loss” but actually translates as “you can´t miss it”.  I don´t know about you, but when someone says that to me it’s a guarantee that I will never get there.

A “perdedor” or in the feminine “perdedora” is a person who loses at a game or sport, the opposite of “ganador” and “ganadora”, the winner.  If someone falls in madly in love, we may say in Spanish that they fall in love “locamente” but often we use the expression “perdidamente” which, even though we can´t translate it literally (lostly) I think expresses the idea better:  you don´t go exactly go mad but you lose yourself temporarily.

Another derivative is “perdición” which does have the exact equivalent in English “perdition”.  This expresses the religious concept of eternal punishment or loss of salvation, although some people associate the word with eating chocolate, their ultimate downfall.

There are a number of useful expressions which contain the verb “perder”.  One I rather like is “perder el norte” (literally, to lose the north).  This is a metaphor based on compass points: someone who loses the north on the compass loses their way completely, but it is used in everyday speech to refer to a person who has “lost it” in some way.  It could be someone who has completely forgotten about their vocation in life or how they should behave in a social situation.

Similar, but not exactly the same, is the person who “pierde los papeles” (loses their papers).  This is someone who becomes so angry or upset that they lose self-control and start shouting and yelling.  I think it’s a rather graphic way of describing how you feel in the face of Spanish bureaucracy, when all your papers seem to fly everywhere to everyone’s confusion.

Finally, “perder” also has a reflexive form “perderse” (to lose oneself, to get lost).  This could be literally to lose ones way in a place, but  we can also get lost in someone’s argument or the plot of film, something that happen to me rather often, mainly because I fall asleep half way through.


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