Posted by: janecronin | November 25, 2018


“Parecer” means “to seem”.    It is a regular verb which belongs to that group of verbs ending in “-cer” and “-cir” which make a change in the first person singular of the present tense.  In other words, whereas one normally adds the letter “o” to the root, such as “hablo” (I speak) or “vivo” I live, parecer adds an extra letter “z” so that “I seem” is “parezco”.  Other verbs that do the same thing are “conducir” – “conduzco” (I drive); “conocer” – “conozco” (I know, I am familiar with) or “merecer” – “merezco” (I deserve).   This first person present tense form is the basis of the present subjunctive which is, therefore “parezca, parezcas, parezca, parezcamos, parezcáis, parezcan”.

When you want to express an opinion or impression, it is quite common to say “me parece” (it seems to me).  Notice that here we are using the third person “it seems” with the “me” meaning “to me”.  Likewise, we might ask the question “¿Qué te parece?” which is literally “What/How does it seem to you?” or as we would usually say “What do you think?”  A reply could be “me parece estupendo” (It seems wonderful to me) or “me parece fatal” (I think it’s dreadful).

An adjective from “parecer” is “parecido” which means “similar”.  “Parecido” is used far more commonly than “similar” even though English speakers find this word easier to remember.  A set phrase in which the word “parecer” is used as a noun is “a mi parecer” which is another, slightly more formal, way of saying “it seems to me”.

“Parecer” has a reflexive form “parecerse” which means “to look alike” or “to be alike”.  “Me parezco a mi hermana” means “I look like me sister” and “mis hijas se parecen” means “My daughters look like each other”.

We can make a compound verb by adding the prefix “a” to give us “aparecer”.  This means “to appear” is the literal sense, not in the sense of “seem”.  Thus,  if I want to say for example, “the man appeared nervous” I would use “parecer” – “El hombre parecía nervioso”, whereas “the man appeared in the room” is “aparecer” – “El hombre apareció en la habitación”.  The opposite of “aparecer” is unsurprisingly “desaparecer” (to disappear).

There are two words meaning “appearance” is Spanish.  Firstly there is “apariencia”, which generally refers to how someone or something looks.  We can also talk about doing something “por pura apariencia” (solely for the sake of appearances).   The other word for “appearance” is “aparición” which refers to someone or something coming into view, as in an appearance on the stage.  “Aparición” also carries the same meaning as our English equivalent, namely something strange or supernatural.

Finally, there is a small village near Orihuela called “La Aparecida”.  Apparently the name comes from the discovery of a portrait of the Virgin Mary which “appeared” on the land of a farmer two centuries ago.  The image, which became an object of veneration, was destroyed during the civil war.

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