Posted by: janecronin | December 9, 2018


This week’s verb is “encontrar” which means “to find”.  It is a regular root-changing verb which means that the “o” in the root changes to “ue” in some of the present tense and present subjunctive forms.  Other than that, it is a very well behaved verb indeed.

Apart from directly translating “to find” as in “he encontrado mis llaves” (I have found my keys), when it refers to people rather than things it means “to meet” in the sense of “to bump into” or “to meet by change”.  “He encontrado a Miguel en la calle” simply means that you have bumped into Miguel by chance, not that you tripped over him as he was lying in the gutter like a lost wallet.

“Encontrar” has a reflexive form “encontrarse” which we can sometimes directly translate as “to find oneself” but by extension also means “to be situated”.  For example:  “La iglesia se encuentra en el centro de la ciudad” (the church is situated – or can be found – in the centre of the town).  “Encontrarse” can also be used more figuratively meaning to “find oneself” in a particular state of body or mind.  “Me encontré un poco perdido con su discurso” (I found myself a little lost by his or her speech – in other words, I couldn´t understand his or her speech very well).  “¿Cómo te encuentras?” Is another way of saying “How are you?” although it would be a genuine enquiry to someone who has not been well rather than a routine greeting.

One noun from “encontrarse” is “encuentro” which is another word for “meeting” or a “coming together”.  There are quite a few different ways in Spanish to talk about “meetings”, the most common formal one being “reunión”.  However, “encuentro”  is used for a less formal get-together and in a sporting context to mean a game or match.   The negative form of “encuentro” is “desencuentro”.  This does not refer to a meeting that doesn´t happen, but rather to a meeting that goes wrong in some way, perhaps ending in an argument or simply the inability to reach an agreement.

We can add a very useful suffix to the noun “encuentro” as well as change to “ue” root back to an “o” to give us the word “econtronazo”.  This means a crash or collision, both in the literal sense but more often in the context of a strong disagreement or a meeting with a hostile atmosphere.  The suffix “-azo” often expresses something violent or strong and is added to lots of different words.  For example “portazo” means the slam of a door (puerta) and a “puñetazo” is a punch delivered by a fist (puño).   Sometimes the Spanish are quite imaginative with their use of this suffix.  Years ago I used to teach English to Spanish children and gave them each a folder (carpeta) for their work.  It was quite common for one of them to complain to me that they had received a “carpetazo” from another child.



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