Posted by: janecronin | December 16, 2018


“Vestir” means “to dress”.  This should make some sense to us, because the word “vest” in English clearly comes from the same Latin root.  Those of you who have studied Spanish will quite possibly have come across the reflexive form “vestirse” (to get dressed) first, but it does also exist in its simple, non-reflexive form.

First of all though, we need to look at the verb’s formation.  Along with a number of other “-ir” verbs, “vestir” is a root changing “e – i” verb in the present tense.  This simply means that, for example “I dress” is “visto” and not “vesto”.   The present tense conjugation, therefore, goes “visto, vistes, viste, vestimos, vestís, visten”.  Remember as well that when you are saying these words, the initial ‘v’ has the sound quality of a lightly pronounced ‘b’.  As is the case with several other similar verbs, this root change also occurs in the gerund form “vistiendo” (dressing) and in the third persons singular and plural of the preterite (past simple) tense – “vistió” (he or she dressed) “vistieron” (they dressed) and by further extension to the imperfect subjunctive “vistiera”.

The contexts in which someone might dress another person, or perhaps object, are of course a little limited.  We may dress our children or an adult who is unable to do so him or herself.  A designer might dress a model and religious observers might dress a statue.  Other than that, we mostly take control of dressing ourselves, and this is where the reflexive form of this verb comes in.  In the first-person form “visto” (I dress) we put the word “me” in front, giving us “me visto” we are now saying “I dress me” or “I dress myself”.  This form is called reflexive and the word “me” here is acting as a “reflexive pronoun”.   If we write this short sentence out more completely it is “yo me visto”.  “Yo” is the subject of the sentence, that is the person who initiates or controls the action of the verb and “me” acts as the “object” that is, the person or thing that received the action of the verb.  When the subject and the object are the same person, we would translate “me” as “myself” in English.  However, in English we rarely use the form “I dress myself” and far more often say “I get dressed”. The present tense of this reflexive form therefore is: “Me visto” (I get dressed); “te vistes” (you get dressed); “se viste” (he or she gets dressed.  Also formal “usted” – you get dressed);  “nos vestimos” (we get dressed); “os vistís” (plural “you” get dressed); “se visten” (they get dressed).   Reflexive verbs work in this way throughout all the tenses.  As already mentioned the infinitive form is “vestirse”.

A noun form of “vestir” is “vestido” meaning dress, while “vestimento” means clothing or vestments in general.  The opposite of “vestir” is “desvestir” (to undress) which we can definitely connect to the English word “to divest”.


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